Friday, January 19, 2007

The Bombing at Al-Mustansiriyah University

This statement was issued by the NCF yesterday

The Next Century Foundation views yesterday's events at AL-MUSTANSIRIYAH University as a low point in depravity during the current civil war. As some members will know the NCF has close links with AL-MUSTANSIRIYAH. The killing of seventy or more students, mostly young women, and the gruesome maiming of countless others was a true act of barbarity.

Most of those who volunteer, and indeed risk their lives, working with the NCF in Iraq are young female Iraqis. They work, whether on election monitoring or on hostage issues, as with all our volunteers, for no remuneration.

AL-MUSTANSIRIYAH was the first university the NCF team led by Ambassador Hambley and William Morris visited after the liberation of Iraq. Our deepest condolences to the families of the bereaved.

The NCF wishes to add that we are concerned with regard to the current build up of troops for a push on Baghdad. In principal, the NCF recognises the merit in such an idea. However we do not believe the West can deal with the Baghdad crisis without addressing the widespread criminality of the police force. Because of our work with local people on the ground on hostage issues and electoral monitoring we are aware that all hostages taken in Baghdad are kidnapped by the Iraq police force and that virtually all members of that force are either insurgents or criminals from one militia faction or another. We are saddened to see continual reports in the Western press claiming violence has been perpetrated by men dressed as policemen — rather than acknowledging that invariably they are policemen. Were the police force dismissed there might be merit in a major push to conquer Baghdad. In the present climate when what is done is too little too late, the Baghdad push may become a terrible further waste of human life.

William Morris
Secretary General
The Next Century Foundation

Ambassador Mark G Hambley
The Next Century Foundation


nextcenturyfoundation said...

Serena says:

Thank you very much William for this insightful and provocative piece of writing.

Do you think there would be popular acceptance of a sweeping American military presence in Baghdad to restore peace (?) and security, were the police force to be dismissed? Would that sudden ‘gap’ in the civil infrastructure not provoke even greater disobedience by the criminal factions within society, especially if they saw this move as a denial of their ‘civic’ rights to have their role in society being acknowledged and respected?

William said...

Thanks for your comment. It's hard to know what the best thing to do would be. I used to think that expanding the Green Zone city block by city block might be an answer, cleansing each block of weapons as they went. But, I discussed this with some Iraqis working in the Green Zone and they said that they were already having enormous trouble keeping the Green Zone safe and if it were to be made any bigger it would fall to the insurgents.

The Iraqi Police are a major problem, some very violent men have been recruited. I think that the initial idea was that by doing this, i.e. recruiting militia men to the police force, they would somehow become good people. Anyway, it didn't work.

So, what to do? All I know is that there is absolutely no possibility of pacifying Baghdad while the current police force remains in place. They fund themselves through kidnapping, they terrorise the local population and they are extremely violent.

nextcenturyfoundation said...

Ali Muhsen Hamid says:

It is barbarity in its full sense .Nobody could imagine that senseless criminals could do what we had seen in al Mustanseriah university.It is deplorable and savage.But please think again of condoning the American invasion and occupation by saying that it was a liberation. The Occupation was not at all liberation as you said in your statement. Occupation is occupation whether it is Israeli or American .The facts on the ground and the widespread disapproval of the American policy even in the United States may infeluence another judgement by NCF.