Tuesday, December 06, 2005

We all know that those who downplay our many successes in Iraq are just terrorist-loving traitors who hate freedom and don't want democracy and stability to come to the Iraqi people. Well, apparently that group includes an Iraqi vice president, one who's seeking a seat in Parliament on the same ticket as Iyad Allawi, our former handpicked prime minister -- or so I would have to conclude from this AP story, which was flagged by Juan Cole:

The training of Iraqi security forces has suffered a big "setback" in the last six months, with the army and other forces being increasingly used to settle scores and make other political gains, Iraqi Vice President Ghazi al-Yawer said Monday.

Al-Yawer disputed contentions by U.S. officials, including President Bush, that the training of security forces was gathering speed, resulting in more professional troops.

... al-Yawer said recent allegations that Interior Ministry security forces -- dominated by Shiites -- have tortured Sunni detainees were evidence that many forces are increasingly politicized and sectarian. Some of the recently trained Iraqi forces focus on settling scores and other political goals rather than maintaining security, he said.

...He said the army -- also dominated by Shiites -- is conducting raids against villages and towns in Sunni and mixed areas of Iraq, rather than targeting specific insurgents -- a tactic he said reminded many Sunnis of Saddam Hussein-era raids.

"Saddam used to raid villages," using security forces, he said. "This is not the way to do it."...

Meanwhile, in terms of actual war-fighting, a story in yesterday's New York Times suggests that there's still a Keystone Kops element to the performance of Iraqi soldiers:

Last month's operation near the Syrian border was a crucial test for the fledgling Iraqi Army in Anbar....

To this reporter embedded with the assault force, the Iraqis often seemed disorganized, complacent and undisciplined. On the north side of the river, where the Iraqis had a chance to take the lead because they outnumbered the Americans, house-to-house clearing operations were sloppy. The troops moved unsystematically from house to house, sometimes giving buildings nothing more than a glance or, worse, bypassing them altogether.

Some soldiers demonstrated unorthodox uses for their weapons, including two soldiers who used their Kalashnikov assault rifles to swat a ball around as if they were playing field hockey, according to American soldiers who witnessed the scene, and several who used their rifles to pry metal security doors off their hinges.

Field hockey.

Guess we won't be "standing down" anytime soon.

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