Iraqi troops Wednesday uncovered a kidnapping ring, seized weapons — including three rockets — and defused two roadside bombs after beginning a security clampdown on the often lawless streets of Baghdad.
In the first day of the new government's push to restore order in the capital, Iraqi troops also enforced a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. and issued a weapons ban for civilians.
Iraq's ministries of Defense and Interior would not give specific numbers on how many troops were stationed across the city Wednesday, but it appeared to be fewer than the 70,000 that the Interior Ministry initially said it would deploy.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has promised to deploy Iraqi forces to quell a spike in violence and sectarian strife in recent months.
This is the largest operation carried out in Baghdad since Iraq gained its sovereignty in June 2004, said Maj. Gen. Mahdi al-Gharrawi, commander of the forces deployed by the Interior Ministry.
Authorities will beef up the operation in coming days while making efforts not to disrupt the lives of civilians, said Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani.
Al-Maliki said Wednesday he is open to talking with insurgents who initially opposed the political process, but he refuses to talk to any group responsible for killing Iraqis, according to an official in his office.
Of course the US and coalition troops are also mentioned in the article, but this is the first time I've seen this sort of mention of Iraqis and the government to this extent. Obviously that's because, until last week, key security posts hadn't been filled. What is encouraging, however, is how quickly after filling the posts the appointees have begun to take charge.
The Baghdad operation is a big step toward full Iraqi autonomy. It is a large operation. It is a joint operation. It is a security operation. It is the type of operation the government and security forces must be able to do well. It is part of the "blooding" process I so often speak about. All the training in the world, while good, won't teach as much as doing the job live. Command and control will be tested, tweaked and ajusted. Lessons learned will be gathered and applied. New SOPs will emerge. This sweep in Baghdad provides the sort of experience that provides all of that. And those paragraphs I point too in the CNN story point to a positive change in the Iraqi security situation.