Security Cordon to Ring Baghdad
Iraq’s government has announced that a massive new security cordon, consisting of 675 checkpoints and 40,000 soldiers and police, would ring Baghdad starting next week.
The government announced Thursday that a security cordon of 40,000 Iraqi soldiers and police will ring Baghdad starting next week to try to halt a spree of insurgent violence that has killed more than 620 people this month.
The security cordon next week would be followed by similar anti-terrorism moves across the country, part of an effort to shift the government stance toward the insurgency from a defensive to an offensive position, said Interior Minister Bayan Jabr and Defense Minister Saadoun al-Duleimi. “Next week, we will have a strong and safe cordon around Baghdad like a bracelet that surrounds the hand. We will not allow anyone to cross this cordon,” al-Duleimi said. Jabr said there would be 675 checkpoints plus mobile checkpoints to try to deter assailants in areas where attacks are frequent and cars are often booby-trapped.
“You will witness unprecedented security measures and none familiar to you,” he said. “We have to work together, government and people, because security is for all the citizens, not just the government.” The ministers said Baghdad would be divided into two sectors and 15 districts where police and emergency personnel would operate 24 hours a day. “We will stand against anyone who tries to kill Iraqis and we will impose the law by adopting all tough measures,” Jabr said. “We do believe that we are going to give Iraqis what they have lacked,” al-Duleimi said, an apparent reference to the poor security available throughout Iraq since the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime.
I’m not sure what this signals, exactly. One hopes it is a sign that the government now has sufficient confidence in the training and steadfastness of their security forces to stage an operation of this magnitude. It could, though, simply be a sign that what they’re doing now isn’t working and that they’re willing to try something new.
The ability to muster 40,000 Iraqi troops for a persistent offensive speaks volumes on the progress of the Iraqi security forces, as well as the security situation in other provinces in Iraq. Either the Iraqi government has accumulated a significant excess of available forces, or these forces are being pulled from other areas of Iraq deemed to be secure, or a combination of the two.
He also notes that this thing is being dubbed “Operation Thunder.”