Thursday, December 24, 2015

Can governor Nasrawi restore security in Basra?

Security and rule of law have been deteriorating across central and southern provinces as militias and criminal gangs exploit the vacuum left by security forces deployed north and west to fight ISIS. Things have been particularly nasty in Basra, where there's more power and resources for which various actors can compete. People of Basra have been protesting the lack of security as assassinations, kidnappings and other forms of organized and petty crime arguably reached or even exceeded pre-charge of the knights levels.

Governor Nasrawi now claims he's determined to get things under control again. Yesterday he said security forces arrested 731 people connected to criminal activity in "the past days." It's somewhat interesting that he mentioned the Suqor intelligence cell was involved in carrying out the arrests. I used to think the Suqor cell was focused on hunting down ISIS leaders and operated on a national level.

Nasrawi, in his comments on the arrests, was not shy to point out the source of Basra's problems: "Among those arrested are elements affiliated with political parties...we will not allow interference by any political party of politician to mediate" the release of the suspects.

Could the Suqor involvement, along with large number of arrests suggest that a serious effort with significant support from Abadi is underway? But of course there's also the possibility that the governor is exaggerating his efforts to placate the frustrated public. Tracking security dynamics in Iraq for a long time can make you a bit cynical.

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