Sophia's Peace Work

Monday, May 17, 2004

The "Transition"

People keep asking me what I think the transition will be like on June 30th when the U.S. hands over power to the Interim Iraqi Government. Well, expect alot of fireworks ... Fallujah times 4. But then I thought the fighting in Najaf and Karbala would be bad ... but in terms of the feel on the street it doesn't seem quite as intense. Regardless I really don't think it will be much of a transition.

I recently found out (though it appears to be common knowledge around here) that the U.S. intends to keep the Presidential Palace as it's embassy in Iraq. It is one of the largest and grandest buildings in the City. I can't imagine that Iraqis would view this as anything but a slap in the face. In the U.S. it would be as if an foreign power had decided that it would just turn the White House into their embassy. It is hard to believe that the people running the show here could be that short-sighted.

Last night I spoke with of foreign diplomat from a European embassy here in Baghdad. He told me that publically he could not speak freely about the performance of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq. But privately he was amazed at their stupidity.

"Take their constant patrols through the city," he said, "What real purpose do they serve other than to humiliate Iraqis on a daily basis? They snarl the traffic and they have absolutely no effect on the rising crime in the city. If I were them, I'd stay on the base and only come out when there is some specific reason or problem."

The CPA here often bemoans the terrible security situation in Iraq. But I would put forward the following notion to consider ... Is it possible that one of the main reasons for the poor security situation in Iraq is the behavior of the Coalition forces in their daily dealings with Iraqis? Could it be that their very presence, when they sit behind their fortified walls and razor wire in the Presidential Palace, decreases the security in Iraq?


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