Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Securing Baghdad

Alaa the Mesopotamian has made a few suggestions on how to improve the security situation in Baghdad. Alaa has long argued that the US military should focus its efforts on securing Baghdad, and the goal should have been from the beginning to make Baghdad one big Green Zone. It's too bad that US military strategists were not reading Alaa the Mesopotamian two years ago and taking him seriously. Here are a few of Alaa's key recommendations:

'4- Lock down of the city of Baghdad at carefully studied points. The question as to where Baghdad boundaries actually are, is a crucial matter and requires very careful strategic consideration. For instance, should Abu Graib, be within or outside the protected periphery? This hotbed area is one of the havens of terrorism and the source of much of the action that afflicts central Baghdad. Likewise are the areas nearer to the center in West Baghdad. The objective is to work towards the goal of “Green Zone Baghdad” that I have proposed long time ago.

5- Recognition of the main threat and avoidance of engaging in secondary efforts that can only distract from the main objectives and open up unnecessary fronts that only serve to increase the risk to the troops and divert their attention. This point, I mention specifically concerning Shiite areas and the so-called Sadrists. These are not the main threat, and could be dealt with politically. Of course they must be controlled, but I believe the task is more political and social than military there.

6- Respect of the lives [Alaa's cousin was recently killed by US troops - apparently they thought he was a suicide bomber] and property of ordinary citizen, and adoption of the principle of courteous and respectful approach to searches and information gathering. Avoid breaking of furniture and the various acts of vandalism, not to mention downright theft, that have been so common.

7- To distinguish community and tribal leaders in each area and convoke them before embarking on action in any neighborhood. Saddam was very effective using this method, holding these leaders responsible for what happens in their communities, recompensing them generously when cooperative otherwise punishing them severely when things go wrong.

8- Recognition that there are virtually closed neighborhoods completely under “insurgent” control (the Sods) where they can rig their car bombs, suicide men, I.E.D’s etc. etc. with complete impunity, especially after the thorough ethnic and sectarian cleansing that is almost completed by now. These areas comprise many parts of West Baghdad, Adhamiya, and in the entirety of the farmland belt around Baghdad etc. Unless there is preparedness and determination to go into these areas clean them and hold them, there is little chance of success.

These are just a few points purely on the military technical side, which does not mean that we underestimate the other more important political, sociological and economic factors, but these require volumes of research which is not within my capability at the present. But still the points above are of urgency in the immediate short term.' --Alaa

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