BAGHDAD - In a country with no security and no jobs, just about anyone can
work as a policeman.
"To survive in Iraq under US occupation, there are only two jobs; police
and garbage collection," Baghdad journalist Mohammad al-Dulaymi told IPS.
"Unemployment is leading many Iraqis to join the security forces despite
the risk involved."
According to the Iraqi government, unemployment was between 60-70 percent over
the year. But not even senior army and police leaders know how many have got
jobs as security men.
"We do not really have reliable statistics for the number of security
personnel in Iraq," a general in the ministry of interior in Baghdad, speaking
on condition of anonymity, told IPS. "There are at least one million policemen
who receive salaries from the ministry of interior as official policemen with
salaries of 300 dollars and up. But we believe that half of them exist on paper
The general said there is massive corruption in the ministry, and that most
of the senior staff colludes in faking lists of personnel who do not exist.
"Why does everybody blame the bad security on the police," Col. Fadhi
al-Rubai of the Russafa Police in Baghdad asked IPS. "The whole country
is being robbed. A look at any ministry would reveal the catastrophe Iraq is
going through. We, the police, are only one part of huge corruption."
"There are 1.4 million policemen in Iraq," Abbas al-Bayaty, member
of the security committee in the Iraqi parliament, and senior member of the
major Shi'ite bloc the Iraqi Coalition, told IPS. "That brings the percentage
of policemen to people to one policeman for 27 residents, while the usual standard
should be one to 300. This militarization of Iraq is a big mistake."
Even if large numbers exist only on paper, they are at the least a massive
drain on the budget.
Moreover, there are security forces other than the police, though the ministry
of defense refused to give IPS any idea of the numbers of Iraqi army personnel.
"Only the minister is authorized to talk about it," a general in
the ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS. "And anyway,
no one has a good estimate given the tremendous chaos in the ministry."
On the ministry of national security too, information is scarce. "The
ministry of national security is an arm of the Iranian intelligence," Col.
Jassim Alwan of the former Iraqi army told IPS in Baghdad. "It is completely
run by Iranian intelligence and the al-Quds Regiment under a secret agreement
between Iran and America since before the invasion and occupation."
An Iraqi Intelligence Office was set up by L. Paul Bremer, head of the US
Coalition Provisional Authority which controlled Iraq during the first year
of occupation. This office was meant to be independent of government. The office
led by Gen. Mohammad Abdullah al-Shahwany has maintained a low profile through
the years of occupation.
Shahwany, a Sunni Muslim, came to Iraq with the US army in April 2003. He
was one of the strongest supporters of US presence in Iraq, and his office
was keen on bringing former intelligence officers back to the service. But again,
there is no information available on the number of personnel and what they do.
There are still other security forces in Iraq. "There are special army
units that work together with the US army without any authority of the Iraqi
government," Yassen Fadhi of the ministry of defense told IPS. "These
forces are used by the US army to conduct sensitive missions like arresting
militia leaders or raiding mosques."
The recent Awakening Forces formed by the US forces from Arab tribes is believed
now to be at least 76,000 strong, with plans to add another 10,000.
These men are also referred to by the US military as "concerned citizens".
Most of them are said to be former resistance fighters who used to attack occupation
forces, but have now switched support to the US. Men said to be among these
forces are paid 300 dollars a month.
Many local community representatives now want their own "Awakening"
"We contributed a lot to the security of Iraq, and we achieved in six
months what the huge armies of the Americans and Iraqis failed to achieve in
four years," Sheikh Hammed Hayis of the Anbar Awakening Force in Ramadi,
10 km west of Baghdad, told IPS. "We are the leaders of the Awakening all
over Iraq, and the government must accept us as official forces."
The Shi'ite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been at odds
with the US-military over the formation of these local US-backed Sunni militias.
According to the US military, 82 percent of the "concerned citizens"
Many fear further deterioration of security under current policies.
"Power in Iraq will soon be turned to tribal leaders," Sheikh Ahmed
Shakir of the Sunni religious group The Association of Muslim Scholars Association
told IPS in Baghdad. "They (the US military) are buying time with the tribes
after they failed with the army and militias."
(Inter Press Service)