The police force charged with maintaining law and order in Basra are no match for the militia groups which now, essentially, are in control of the city. Lt. Gen. Jaleel al-Shuwaili claimed militia forces controlled the main ports and terminals in the province and which Basra is the capital, and his forces were incapable of challenging their power. The British military which until recently “controlled” Basra never really interfered with the militia groups and allowed them to run wild and lawless. the police are powerless to even investigate the rise crime and move away from even taking action against militia faction which kill women for “improper un-Islamic dress.” Provincial Council leader, Mohammad Saadoun, supported this view of reality noting that militia groups have carved out “fiefdoms” in which they impose law and order according to their own interpretations. He believes Basra is facing a “security crisis” with an ineffectual police and no ability on the part of the Iraqi army to impose its will on the militia groups.
General Petraeus and President Bush are boasting about the surge’s success in reducing violence in Baghdad. They are correct on that point, but, in the meantime lawlessness is increasing all over Iraq and the southern region which is centered around Basra has lost all semblance of control by the national government. Perhaps, surge troops will be sent south.