February 7, 2005


Iraqis Cite Shift in Attitudes Since Vote: Mood Seen Moving Against Insurgency (Doug Struck, February 7, 2005, Washington Post)

With a hero who gave his life for the elections, a revived national anthem blaring from car stereos and a greater willingness to help police, the public mood appears to be moving more clearly against the insurgency in Iraq, political and security officials said.

In the week since national elections, police officers and Iraqi National Guardsmen said they have received more tips from the public, resulting in more arrests and greater effectiveness in their efforts to weaken the violent insurgency rocking the country.

None of the officials said they believed the violence was over. An attack Sunday on a police station in Mahawil, 50 miles south of Baghdad, left 22 policemen and National Guardsmen and 14 attackers dead, the Associated Press reported. The incident was a bloody end to a day in which at least nine other Iraqis were reported slain, and a U.S. soldier was killed and two others were wounded north of the capital. Four Egyptian engineers were kidnapped and two insurgent groups issued statements threatening to kill an Italian journalist who was taken hostage on Friday.

But officials in Baghdad said a relative lull in violence in the capital has fueled the sense that something has fundamentally changed since the vote. A change of attitudes in Baghdad could make a crucial difference in the battle against the insurgency, and a buoyed sense of civic pride is already beginning to change the way the public treats the police, authorities say.

"They saw what we did for them in the election by providing safety, and now they understand this is their army and their sons," said Sgt. Haider Abudl Heidi, a National Guardsman wearing a flak jacket at a checkpoint in Baghdad.

Reports from Iraqis reflected a similar shift in attitudes in large areas of the north and south, although authorities acknowledged that in some parts of the country, people remain hostile to the emerging Iraqi authority and supportive, to varying degrees, of the insurgents.

The hard part is that the authorities have to stand their ground and fight. That'll be made easier by our not being there for them to lean on.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 7, 2005 8:15 AM
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