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Saturday, June 09, 2007

One Honest Man

In a very candid, honest article called "A Thin Iraqi Line" from National Journal, there is a specific section of that article called "One Honest Man".

It is refreshing to see the good news mixed with the bad and I assure you, this article details the realities on the ground in Iraq, once again, let me repeat, the good AND the bad.

Every approach to the massive Iraq Interior Ministry building on Baghdad's east side tells of human drama with a violent end. Suicide car bombers have attacked all three of the building's major entrances. A pair of suicide bombers with explosive vests killed 36 police officers and cadets in December 2005 at a nearby police academy, one of the worst attacks on Iraqi police. A few months ago a group was caught trying to smuggle explosives into the building.

A U.S. liaison team stationed at the ministry believes the attacks are evidence of the unwanted attention that one honest man in power can attract in Iraq. Maj. Gen. Ahmed Taha Hashim Mohammed Abu-Ragheef is the ministry's head of Internal Affairs. Ahmed, 39, is the man responsible for policing the Iraqi police. In a ministry and police force that was notoriously infiltrated and co-opted by Shiite militias and officials blind to rampant corruption, Ahmed's honesty, U.S. officials say, has made him the proverbial one-eyed king.

Ahmed, supported by Interior Minister Jawad al Bolani, is cleaning house. In one four-month period, 2,000 ministry personnel were arrested, fired, or forced into retirement, including 30 brigadier generals. Ahmed's investigations led to the firing of Ramadi's inspector general for chasing his wife through the streets firing his AK-47, and to the arrest of a brigadier general for selling passports. Ahmed sacked seven major generals for not reporting to work. He fired at least 1,450 employees for having criminal records and 40 for cowardice. He suspended an entire police brigade suspected of taking part in death squads.

U.S. officials in Iraq point to this cleaning up at the Interior Ministry, led by Gen. Ahmed and Minister Bolani, as the basis for much of their faith that the Iraqis can eventually purge their ministries and security forces of the worst sectarian influences. No one kids themselves, however, that the job is complete -- or risk-free.

Though Ahmed is rumored to be a distant descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, his aggressive efforts to bring legitimacy to Iraqi police forces have made him a marked man. He has survived 13 assassination attempts that killed six of his personal security guards and wounded three others. Insurgents have killed one cousin and wounded another cousin and his brother. Ahmed's deputy director was assassinated, and the father of his personal driver murdered. After an unexploded bomb was removed from his house, Ahmed moved his family to an undisclosed location. Since 2005, 34 of the ministry's Internal Affairs officers have been killed, and another 45 wounded.

In his 11th-floor ministry office, Ahmed was asked by a reporter why in the world anyone would want such a job. For a moment he broke into a broad grin that softened the stern face set off by short-cropped black hair and a goatee already flecked with gray. The overall impression was of a man of substance and great self-confidence.

"If I listened to my family I would never even leave the house! I would just stay home," Ahmed told National Journal. "When I took this job I told the minister that there were some bad actors in the department, and I asked whether he would support me. Because there is no doubt that political influence is everywhere, and this work is a fertile field for political interference. And Minister Bolani said that he would stand up against political interference, and that we would work together for all Iraqis, and for all of Iraq."

Whenever he talks privately to friends and family about the terrorism and rampant criminality that grip Iraq, Ahmed says the conversation inevitably turns to the need for good Iraqis to unite to overcome the threats. "God willing, that is the example I'm trying to set," he said. "I hope American leaders will continue to support Iraqis who are trying to help unite the country. Not the sectarians or the nationalists, but the Iraqi patriots. That's who I would ask America to back."

An example is what he is setting himself up to be as well as a target by taking his very solid stand against corruption in Iraq, but it is men like this that are needed to weed through the bad to find the good and to take appropriate measures, albeit, unpopular to those that do not wish to see Iraq succeed.

I encourage you to read the whole article, it is long, but worth the read to get a feel of what the challenges are and how to overcome them.

We can succeed in Iraq, but it will not be easy and rarely in life is anything that is worth a damn, easy.

Iraq is worth it. More importantly, the Iraqi people are worth it.

I found this article via Real Clear Politics.