Iraqi police to take over security responsibility in Baghdad

Reaching a major milestone, the Iraqi interior ministry announced yesterday that the Iraqi Army would turn over responsibility for security in the capital of Baghdad to the Iraqi police in July. Iraqi Army units within Baghdad will then redeploy to positions outside of Baghdad.

Traditionally, a police force is tasked with providing for a country’s internal security, and its army is tasked with providing security against external threats. In Iraq, however, the Iraqi Army has had responsibility for internal security throughout the country alongside the Iraqi police. This was necessary because the police were insufficiently trained and equipped to handle the level of insurgent violence. But after the surge of US forces in 2007, the violence level diminished significantly. And it has remained low despite the departure of US forces at the end of 2011.

The transfer of security responsibility to the police is particularly notable given that Baghdad is home to a large portion of Iraq’s population. The capital city has also seen some of the worst violence of the insurgency.

The transfer in Baghdad constitutes the first step in the transition process. The Iraqi interior ministry expects to turn over additional cities to the police during the summer. Eventually the police will have to take responsibility for internal security for the entire country in order to allow the Army to transition to the normal role of providing for the country’s external security.

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  • Villiger says:

    CJ: “And it has remained low despite the departure of US forces at the end of 2011.”
    CJ, how low is low? It would be helpful to have some basic statistics to provide context. Also, one helpful comparison would be the current situation as compared with prior to the US invasion.

  • cjr says:

    A good point.
    Iraqi deaths from January 2005 to today, compiled by are here
    Current Iraqi deaths are down about 90% from its peak in 2006-2007.
    For Iraqi deaths prior to the US invasion, a New York Times report in 2003 estimated that 200,000 Iraqis died in political prison camps during Saddam Husein’s 23 year reign. (This does not including Iraqi’s killed due to war: Iran-Iraq war or Gulf War 1). So current Iraqi deaths are about 75% less than during the Saddam era.

  • Neo says:

    I do wonder what effect recent trouble in Syria is having on Iraq. Could the Sunni vs. Shiite battle in the area have shifted away from Iraq at least temporarily? Until fairly recently Sunni extremists ran a considerable number of insurgent supply lines directly through Syria. I would imagine much of that has been shut down. Qods force members and other Shiite irregulars are getting drawn into the Syrian fight as well. For the moment this may benefit Iraq’s stability. Long term though, any current low level cooperation between Iraq and Iran could lead to further entanglements and prove to be troublesome.


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