Iraqi Police Replace Army in Key Baghdad Neighborhoods

Shi'ite neighborhoods saw high casualties over the weekend

With the Iraqi government admitting that excessive force has been used against protesters, they seem to be making moves to try to get the casualties down, particularly in politically important Shi’ite neighborhoods in Baghdad.

The Baghdad neighborhoods saw a lot of casualties, particularly over the weekend, and the prime minister has now ordered the Iraqi Army out of those areas, replacing them with national police, who they appear to believe will kill fewer demonstrators.

Promises to hold army officers accountable for the violence around the country appear to be the latest attempt to calm protester unrest, at a time when some analysts, and even US officials, believe Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi’s resignation is only a matter of time.

Getting casualties down would certainly help toward that end, as powerful cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has demanded the government resign and call early elections, and the worst of this violence is happening in his main power base, Baghdad’s Sadr City.

The wild-card in this is the government’s paramilitary forces, who are officially under military control but exercise a lot of autonomy. They remain eager to go after the protesters as “coup” plotters.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.