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Anbar Police Chief Faces Council Hostility

Special Correspondent
Members of Anbar’s provincial council are actively trying to dismiss Major General Tareq Youssef al-Osayli, the province’s head of police, saying that he is not up to the task of maintaining provincial security.
14.07.2009  |  Anbar

Mizher Hasan, a member of the provincial council, told Niqash that “most of the council’s members want to dismiss the police chief because of the security infiltration witnessed by Anbar during the period he was head of police, his neglect of provincial council members, and the many complaints received from the Anbar public about his performance.”

However, al-Osayli has rejected these charges, praising the work of the province’s police forces and telling Niqash that his accusers are “panic-stricken, non-patriotic, do not love their country and do not want Iraq to be self-dependent.”

Over the last two months there has been a number of security violations carried out by vehicle-born explosive devices and targeting civilians. Dr. Khamis Matar, a leading member of the Islamic Party and the husband of a provincial councillor, was killed on June 29.

The provincial council says that the performance of police forces has become more exposed since Iraqi police and army forces took over responsibility for security from U.S troops in September 2008. "The police apparatus is still not qualified to take over the responsibility; there is still no respect of the rule of law and there is widespread corruption among police members,” said Ifan Sa’doun, a member of the provincial council and the president of the security committee.

According to security sources, the province’s police force now numbers 28,000. Additionally, there are four military brigades based in the province. Yet according to Sa’doun the large size of the police force means very little as “the police is still not qualified to carry the security responsibility.”

Sa’doun blames the quick recruitment of police forces, which took place without the necessary selection criteria, for the force’s poor performance, and is calling for a restructuring of the police force “from top to the bottom.”

However, al-Osayli, the police head, says that the claims are baseless. “There are terrorist acts in all other provinces and this does not imply that we are not taking our responsibility seriously,” he said.

The police chief described the successes of the past two years such as the rebuilding of police centres, the deploying of checkpoints and making safe main roads including those connecting Iraq with Syria and Jordan, as well as the fight against al-Qaeda remnants.

Moreover, al-Osayli accused provincial council members and leaders of political parties of involvement in terrorist attacks. “They say that security forces are inefficient but I tell those who accuse us are themselves responsible for the violations committed,” he declared.

Observers also note that Anbar’s geographical location make it one of the hardest provinces to secure. It is the country’s largest province, with deserts, rivers, waterways and three lakes. It has borders with three countries and is surrounded by six other provinces.

Some observers say that dismissing the police chief will not solve the province’s security problems and that a better solution would be cleaning the security apparatus of al-Qaeda sympathizers.

Sheikh Marwan al-Dulaimi, a leading tribal figure in Ramadi city told Niqash that “we all know that many of the security forces’ members were previously al-Qaeda members. When the Anbar awakening council was formed and the door was wide open for volunteering, many joined the security forces given the generous salaries paid.”

Sa'doun, the head of the security committee, admits that solving the security issue is complicated and requires more than simply the removal of the police chief. The council is now introducing “internal rules for the security forces to ensure that laws and regulations are respected and to combat administrative and financial corruption,” he said.

But, nonetheless, the provincial council remains firm on the need to remove al-Osayli he said.

For his part, al-Osayli said that the local government will not be able to dismiss him stressing that “the council does not have the power to assess our work because this task is assigned to the Ministry of Interior.”