News of large scale arrests of criminals in Baghdad carried out by Iraqi police are welcome, provided there is due process and it is not simply a trawling operation. It does however demonstrate the differing priorities of an army of occupation versus a police force.
The International Herald Tribune article taken from the New York Times also mentions a drop in ‘spectacular’ terrorist attacks over the past three weeks. Those of us who consider that terrorist groups usually prosper in a climate of lawlessness will ponder the Iraqi situation and reflect on Northern Ireland.
There is little doubt that massive police activity will uncover some terrorist networks and disrupt potential attacks: for example raiding the home of a criminal can turn up equipment intended for terrorist actions.
In Northern Ireland all sorts of crimes, from welfare benefit fraud, fraudulent elections, fire insurance scams, drug dealing, protection rackets, unlicensed gambling and alcohol premises, contract killings and woundings, are tolerated on the grounds that the ‘peace process’ must be kept going.
For the first time in months, I get the sense that Iraq may be going in the right direction. I wish this were the case of Londonderry and Belfast. I have felt for a long time that the violence in Northern Ireland should be considered a law-enforcement problem, separate from politics.