- ISIL creates all-female brigade to terrorize women into following Sharia law
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Obama to Latin leaders: Help with border
- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
Citizen forces seen key to driving out violence
Question of the Day
BAGHDAD — Ordinary Iraqis helping take responsibility for neighborhood security and earning money while doing so are contributing to hopes for a continued downturn in violence in Baghdad in the new year.
Nevertheless, the year got off to a bloody start yesterday, when a suicide attacker killed at least 32 men gathered in eastern Baghdad to mourn the death of a retired Iraqi army officer, a Shi’ite who was slain last week in a car bombing blamed on al Qaeda in Iraq.
The attack was a reminder of the dangers that persist despite the recent decline of violence in Baghdad and of the peril for any mass gathering in a country where the bereaved often find themselves targets.
Still, the rapid growth of Sunni Muslim forces opposed to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden marked a dramatic turnaround from the abysmal first four years after the U.S. invasion.
In the volatile Adhamiya District of eastern Baghdad, for example, Iraqi Security Volunteers, or ISVs, last month found a large cache of explosives as well as several car bombs and reported them to U.S. and Iraqi army forces. It was the fifth such find for them in just a few weeks.
West of Baghdad, another group of volunteers discovered a large cache of artillery shells through a tip from a local resident.
In the East Rashid area of southeast Baghdad, Sunni volunteers establishing a neighborhood headquarters in a rented house last week found two artillery shells that could have been used to blow up U.S. and Iraqi security forces.
“The ISVs are doing a good and important job,” said U.S. Army Capt. Alfred Boone, who is in charge of the ISV project in East Rashid.
“This is a temporary security solution that could lead to these groups going into the Iraqi army or the national police,” Capt. Boone said.
The ISVs fall under the general, overall nomenclature of Concerned Local Citizens, a force distrusted in its present state by the Shi’ite-dominated government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which fears the predominately Sunni volunteers could become a military force outside the control of the government.
The Sunni opposition to al Qaeda began with the so-called “Awakening” movement by Sunni tribal leaders cooperating with U.S. forces in Anbar province west of Baghdad.
President Bush and Gen. David H. Petraeus, architect of the counterinsurgency strategy now being followed in Iraq, credit the movement with being a major factor in the drop in violence nationwide and in pushing al Qaeda out of its strongholds.
A cornerstone of the strategy, which includes the surge of U.S. forces into Baghdad, is securing neighborhoods from a return of terrorists once the terrorists are driven out.
That means boots on the ground in the communities, or in this case, shoes and sandals.
“The fact is concerned local citizens are helping provide security,” Air Force Col. Donald Bacon, chief of strategy and plans and strategic communications for U.S.-led forces, told reporters recently.
By Steve King
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- Rahm Emanuel: Send illegal immigrant shelter kids to Chicago
- U.S. evacuates embassy in Libya amid violent clashes between militias
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Obama: U.S. should 'embrace an economic patriotism that says we rise or fall together'
- Ted Nugent loses second casino gig for 'racist remarks'
- EDITORIAL: Obama's 'economic patriotism' means higher taxes
- Ohio university quiz implies atheists are naturally smarter than Christians
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq