CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG? WaPo reports looting and other “lawlessness” taking place in southern Iraq as government forces are driven out and Coalition forces continue their march towards Baghdad.

Villagers in Mushirij gathered today outside the command post of the Fusiliers’ Zulu Company, complaining loudly that while the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, dubbed “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” promised them a better life, after just one week they have seen only heightened insecurity.

The main problem, many complained, is that while the British troops patrolling here confiscate weapons from ordinary villagers, the thieves — many of them deserters from President Saddam Hussein’s 51st Mechanized Division that was based here — roam outside the control of any authority, preying on villagers.

“The Americans occupied us. They said they would protect us,” said a 47-year-old Iraqi man, an engineer in bluejeans and black sandals with a moustache streaked with gray. “But the thieves come and steal from our companies. How can we restart our companies?”

“We are afraid from both sides,” said the man, who asked that his name not be published. “We are afraid of the thieves, and we are afraid of them,” he said, pointing at the British troops garrisoned in what was the headquarters of the ruling Baath Party. “The thieves have guns, but we have no guns.”

He added, ominously, “If this continues, in seven days or more, we will fight them,” he said, referring to the British soldiers. “We have no guns, but we can get guns. If this place is still without water, still without electricity, we will fight them. Even this child,” he said, patting the head of an 8-year-old who was listening intently in the crowd.

“He can fight,” the engineer said of the child. “He is an Iraqi.”

Apparently, gun control works has the same effect in Iraq as in the United States.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.