Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Iraqi government tightens security in Baghdad

On the Iraqi front, security is being stepped up as a new security plan, including the US troop "surge" (which the US Congress is debating), is being implemented.

The Iraqi government announced late Tuesday that its security forces in the capital would forcibly remove tens of thousands of people from homes that they are occupying illegally as part of an aggressive effort, tantamount to martial law, to reverse the tide of sectarian cleansing that has left Baghdad bloodied and balkanized.

Lt. Gen. Aboud Qanbar, who was named by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to head the new security crackdown in Baghdad, announced the new campaign, which he said would have the force of law, during a nationally televised speech in which he claimed sweeping emergency powers.

The scope of the announcement appeared to catch the American military command by surprise. Enforcement of the housing provision alone would face considerable obstacles.

Under General Qanbar’s decree, the border crossings to Iran and Syria will be temporarily closed effective immediately, as the Iraqi security forces try to reassert control in this lawless capital city.

Is this a Giuliani-like city cleanup or is it just a move that will spill more blood, increasing violence? Will these 'emergency powers' mean even more control by a military that may just worsen conditions in Baghdad? This is serious considering much of the Iraqi Army is corrupt and fights according to their religion/ethnicity (many Sunnis protect or fight with Sunni sectarian militiamen, etc.). I also wonder what this plan will make homelessness an even more pressing humanitarian debacle.

Update: Added link to post on US House of Representatives debate on Iraq policy.

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