Saturday, April 09, 2005

Case study in the aftermath of the war in Iraq

Two blog posts from yesterday illustrate how differently the same events can be seen and interpreted, depending on one's point of view.

Captain's Quarters blog notes this report from the Washington Post about the expanding role of Iraqi national forces taking over security responsibilities from American forces.

This is Area of Operations Iraq, slightly more than two square miles in the heart of Iraq's third-largest city. It is also at the center of the U.S. military's strategy to hand off counterinsurgency operations to Iraqi security forces and ultimately draw down the number of American troops.

Since Iraq's Jan. 30 parliamentary elections, that process has accelerated much more rapidly than U.S. commanders have previously acknowledged. Although AO Iraq is one of just two sectors currently under Iraqi control (the other is the area around Baghdad's Haifa Street), two senior U.S. officers said the Iraqis' zone of responsibility would soon expand and eventually include all of Nineveh province, including Mosul and Tall Afar, another volatile city, possibly within a year.

The officers cautioned that the rough timetable for the northern province's handover could be affected by several factors, including the potency of the insurgency and the preparedness of specific units, and U.S. commanders have declined to provide a schedule for shifting responsibility to Iraqi forces throughout the country. But the process in Mosul, where in November insurgents overpowered an 8,000-man Iraqi police force and several National Guard units, demonstrates how fast the transition is happening.
The Iraqi forces are still poorly equipped, U.S. advisers and Iraqi soldiers agreed. Most ride into battle in "Road Warrior"-like white Nissan pickup trucks with machine guns welded into the bed and makeshift armor supported by plywood and even cardboard. Iraqi units lack medics, adequate communications equipment, computers and other battlefield necessities.
Some residents appeared to greet the Iraqi soldiers warmly during their patrol through downtown Mosul. Others glared. Although the daily patrols are designed to show the Iraqi military's presence and allow the soldiers to interact with the population, the soldiers took great precautions to keep potential threats at bay, pointing their weapons at any car or pedestrian they judged to be too close.

Near the end of the patrol, one Iraqi soldier fired a warning shot over a vehicle with his AK-47 assault rifle, the gunshot ringing through the neighborhood as soldiers hurried down the street.

Contrast this report from Najma, the teenager who who lives in Mosul and has been blogging from there since last year.

On our way back, I felt so peaceful.. Mosul looked at its best.. And because of the headphone, I couldn't hear the shooting, the bombing or the police cars.. It was just wonderful.

But, when we reached home, it was not nice at all.. We reached the traffic light, it looked smoky there.. Then, LOOK, there was a burned car with parts of it everywhere.. The windows of the bakery were all broken, and the policemen didn't let us go in the street because the Americans were coming to pass through it..

I turned off my MP3 and started feeling this sudden depression... Here we are, back to war!

Fortunately, our windows were not broken.. I have opened my room's window yesterday.We went in and found our mobiles (Which we've left home because they take them at the borders sometimes) beeping with SMS, friends have send me messages to ask if we are alright.. Relatives have called.. Mom is still making calls and asking about the neighbors.

The baker's son has lost his eye.. I think 2 others were injured. There were no police nor American soldiers at the time of the explosion, just the citizens...

The fight is not over.. And life isn't p-e-r-f-e-c-t, and I am still depressed.

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