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Kidnapped Minister Freed, Baghdad Security Plan Flaws Eyed

Gunmen freed Iraqi Deputy Electricity Minister Raad al-Harith within hours of his abduction, but the fact that he and 19 bodyguards were kidnapped in the first place underlines the security problem in Baghdad. Yet even before Harith’s abduction, the capital city’s security plan, put into action just two weeks ago, was under revision by Iraqi and American officials.

As reported in Al-Hayat (“Admitting Flaws ‘Brought About More Casualties’… Security Officials Review Baghdad Security Plan”), Mahdi Sabih, commander of Iraqi security in Baghdad, stated that armed groups “set down centers of operations in some areas and neighborhoods of Baghdad and they were successful in isolating them from government control,” pointing to “large gaps in the security plan.” Sabih went on to say that the security plan “was based around the reconciliation plan and did not include raid and search operations, something which granted to the terrorist elements the ability to move around.” Sabih was further quoted as saying that “the security plan succeed in improving the situation in certain limited areas in Baghdad like Biya’, al-Sayidiya and others,” but “failed to take control in other areas like Yarmuk, Ghazala, Amairiya and Dawra.” He added: “…especially Dawra.”

Aside from expanding areas of tighter security, Al-Rafidayn (“The Government Undertakes a Complete Review of Baghdad’s Security Plan to Steer Clear of Errors”), quoted Interior Minister Jawad Bulani as saying that the government intended to review and annul the firearms licenses which had been granted to “citizens, political parties and civil society groups,” saying that this would take place at the end of August. The article quotes him as saying that Saturday’s bombing, the worst under the new government, was perpetrated by Tawhid and Jihad, an al-Qaeda-affiliated organization.
Sowell is an Arabic linguist, attorney and the author of The Arab World: An Illustrated History. You can read more about his book at his website, Arab World Analysis.