Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sir, would you please fill out this form?

Now and after a week since operation forward together was launched in Baghdad let's try to evaluate this operation through the people's reactions and through the authorities' announcements.

First we will see that the operation brought high hopes and was found largely promising by the people of Baghdad as it reflected the level of the government's determination to provide Baghdadis with their number one need, which is security.

What happened in the first two days made people feel that there was a good chance for the government bring calm to the capital but two days later the insurgents we again able to find a way to disrupt peace and renew their attacks against Iraqi civilians and ISF.

Yesterday the Iraqi minister of national security admitted that insurgents are a step ahead of the government when it comes to intelligence. As bleak as this confession may sound I think it's admirable of the government to admit such a fact because the first step in solving a problem is through recognizing it and never through denying it or speaking big empty words.

In fact the minister's statement was pretty close to what we wrote in our earlier post, both accounts define the weakness point of this particular operation and that of the government's efforts to fight the insurgency in general which is intelligence.

To discuss this point we should go back few years in time to know the intelligence system worked in Iraq and why we still be behind the insurgents in this regard if we did not take the right measures.

As we all know, the bulk of the insurgency is made up mostly of the security corps of the past regime, mainly the secret service, special republican guards, military intelligence and former ba'athists and these corps collectively were the ones in charge of collecting and analyzing intelligence for the regime and over years, these corps were able to build a massive database that contained lots of information about every single citizen in Iraq.

I recall those years when everyone had to fill countless inquiries (general information forms) every now and then; for example if I moved from one city to another, applied for a job, moved from one school to another, rented a house or a shop, started a new business or even signed up for a phone line I would be asked to fill many of these forms to many entities. Not to mention the inquiries every citizen had to routinely fill and these inquiries would come from the police station, local ba'ath HQ, the district council and every other authority you can think of.

these inquiries in addition to asking regular questions like number of family members, their jobs, working places etc, etc, they also went as far as asking detailed questions about relatives as far as of the 6th degree, like "do you have any relatives that had been executed?" or "do you have any relatives living abroad? And why?".

The data collected in this manner were used to keep track of citizens and determine how this or that one should be treated (given or denied a job, admitted to college or not, promoted or not).

You can imagine now how much information the past regime had about the people of Iraq, and where did that huge database go?
It was kept by the same people who were in charge of it before, hard disks and box files were all taken home and the rest was burned and soon many of those personnel became the core of the local insurgency so it's somewhat correct to say that those intelligence collectors did not lose power because they retained one of the most powerful weapons in the kind of warfare we're fighting here.

The regime was toppled and places were switched; the jobless former officers became in control of a huge information treasure while the new administration was left with office drawers void of files!

So this imbalanced possession of information needs to change, and to change soon and a plan to build a new database should go simultaneously with the plan to collect weapons. We need to do this because the insurgents are hiding amongst us, they look and dress like normal civilians, they drive civilian vehicles, not tanks and they operate from normal houses, not military bases.
Building a new database can be done through reasonably simple procedures and from the base up by a simple campaign coordinated the authorities, the district councils (Mukhtars) and food ration distribution points.

Of course this should not be done in the same totalitarian demeaning manner that Saddam adopted; just decently detailed records of who lives where and who works where will be enough and can be of great help to our counterterrorism efforts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am genuinely happy to glance at this blog posts which includes
tons of valuable data, thanks for providing these statistics.
Here is my blog post :: diets that work for women