Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: Defense vs Interior ministries

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    Tuesday, August 21, 2007

    Defense vs Interior ministries

    There have also been complaints about
    checkpoint officers asking for bribes.
    Parliamentarian Abusi recalled being
    stopped at a control in Karkh, where
    the security forces asked her and her
    guards for some ammunition.

    "My guards were harassed five times
    at checkpoints even though they
    carry [ID] badges," she said.

    Widad Mohammed, a 50-year-old housewife,
    was travelling in to Amman when her
    car was stopped at a checkpoint close
    to Ghazaliya, west of Baghdad. The
    security officer asked the driver to
    give him a teapot he noticed in the
    car, but the driver refused, stating
    that he needed it for his passengers.

    The security officer yelled at the
    driver and beat him over the head.

    "He threatened to confiscate the car
    as a suspect vehicle, so the driver
    paid him off so as to put an end to
    it," recalled Widad.

    At nightfall when the city goes under
    curfew, the number of officers manning
    security posts decreases because the
    risk of attack is higher.

    "I was shot when our checkpoint west
    of Baghdad was attacked at night,"
    said Khalil Mohammed, an 18-year-old
    national guardsman. "The
    insurgents usually attack us when it
    gets dark."

    The shortage of men at night makes it
    easier for insurgents to plant
    roadside explosive devices and car

    The success of the security strategy
    is challenged by the barely-concealed
    mistrust and rivalry between the
    defence and interior ministries.
    Often it seems they are in conflict
    rather than cooperating with one

    A source close to the defence ministry
    told IWPR that the two institutions
    compete to deploy more troops than
    each other. This, he said, "has
    a negative effect on their performance
    and weakens coordination".

    The source blamed the rivalry on
    sectarian feuding.

    Both ministries refused to comment on
    how decisions are made regarding the
    location and staffing of their
    checkpoints. In some instances, the
    presence of forces from both ministries
    at one location has created problems,
    and on occasion this has led to armed

    An employee of the defence ministry
    anonymously said that last January,
    fighting erupted between the National
    Guard and a police unit at a checkpoint
    when the latter refused to follow
    directions given by the military.

    Hussein Jasim, a resident of Ur
    neighbourhood in eastern Baghdad,
    recalled an incident in January -
    before the security plan came into
    operation - that suggested a degree
    of complicity between security forces
    and paramilitary groups.

    The incident began with a convoy of
    11 cars full of militants arriving
    in the neighbourhood, and firing mortars
    at other areas.

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