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\"Al-Maliki promised to send the full Iraqi army to Basra, if necessary\"

Ali Faruq
Major-General Jalil Khalaf Shawil, chief of the Basra police force, considers his work to be "extremely difficult", particularly in a city like Basra, where the political interests of certain politicians in the…
12.11.2007  |  Basra

Shawil has frequently announced heavy security operations mounted by the police force to support women, and protect them from murder and persecution by armed militias. During the meeting he told Niqash that "there are 44 women's homicide cases hat are registered against unknown perpetrators, in addition to those women killed in honor crimes. The problem is that some families cover up the murders of their women, even if they do not stand to be accused of any wrongdoings. We found a woman murdered along with her infant child. The security situation in Basra is very complicated."

Recently, the Basra police force presented the prime minister's office with a 150-page document accusing party leaders in Basra of exacerbating the security situation for personal gains.

In the context of the militias' continuing defiance of Basra's police, a group of armed militants raised banners on the walls of the city and on the wall of the police station in 'Ashar (right in the heart of Basra). Written in red ink, the banners proclaimed that wanton women would be killed, and that anyone who tried to remove the banner from the wall would be executed.

Commenting on such actions, the police chief affirms that 2008 will be a year of security for Basra, saying that "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has notified me that the government will mobilize the entire army if it has to, in order to apply the rule of law in this city."

On the subject of the corruption rampant in Basra's administrative offices, which a number of local journalists brought up, Shawil told the gathering of writers that "millions of dollars are wasted", accusing political parties (which he refused to name) of "gathering millions in government money for the security forces and other organizations and using it to buy weapons and fancy cars, and acquire power, which they now refuse to relinquish," adding that, "they will really be an obstacle to the application of the law."

The police chief stressed that "these political groups and alliances do not want the police to do the right thing by the people and the state. They want the police to become an executor of their evil desires," and indicated that, "there are many policemen who work as private bodyguards for political leaders."

When asked about corruption within the police force, Shawil stated that he had made an enormous effort to purge the force of undesirable elements but, as he said, "there are four years of administrative and fiscal corruption caused by the local governments and neighboring countries' interventions that have eaten away at the core of the security corps. I have only been in this post for four months, and this is an insufficient amount of time to rebuild what was broken."

The police chief pointed out that he was responsible for a city "that is the only Iraqi city to be surrounded by three countries (Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia)," adding that these countries all hold the false belief that they can control Basra. Thus, he said, "there have been thefts of petroleum, animals and archeological artefacts, and they have snuck explosives and weapons into our city, and even snipers."

Shawil admitted that his information network is incomplete, and has been infiltrated by people working for armed groups or militias; some militants have gone as far as following his convoy with bags of explosives, trying to set them in his path. "They want to eliminate me at any cost, but I will outwit them."

Shawil also pointed out that the Basra police force only has 1,335 of the 4,000 cars bequeathed by the British army to the city's security forces. He claims that he does not know what happened to the rest of the cars, hinting that most of them were appropriated by political groups and party leaders.

Shawil revealed to Niqash a plan currently being prepared by the police force to protect and support writers, intellectuals, scientists and university professors, saying "Here in Basra, we have religious, cultural and intellectual terror going on, and it is our duty as policemen to protect those intellectuals whose hands have never tried to grab tainted money and who have never involved themselves in politics, but still dream of a city where all co-exist peacefully under the rule of law".

The police chief pledged to work towards the return of the "elite" of Basra's population, who left the city due to terrorism and poverty, saying that, "the fact that this class of intellectuals and businessmen has left the city has harmed Basra's society, and left it in the clutches of a class of thieves, murderers and lousy politicians with criminal projects. We insist upon their return, since in Basra there are those who only know the language of murder, and there are attempts to stump life. The fact that we are constantly threatened by near-daily assassination attempts proves to me that we are on the right track."

It is important to mention that Police Chief Major-General Jalil Khalaf Shawil has been the victim of 7 failed assassination attempts since he came to his post four months ago, which have caused the deaths and injuries of many of his security guards.

He announced at his meeting with intellectuals and writers, in an attempt to reach out to them, that he would be accepting the applications of those of their children with degrees to the post of officers in order to "improve their living standards since they cannot find work in other sectors due to high unemployment and the unavailability of job opportunities."

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