IRAQ: Authorities plan to issue special IDs to Baghdad residents

In a bid to reduce sectarian violence, the Iraqi authorities have decided to issue special IDs to Baghdad residents to make it easy to identify militants, a senior military officer said.

“The aim is to easily differentiate between true residents of Baghdad and strangers and militants who come from other provinces to carry out terrorist attacks,” Brig Qassim al-Mousawi, spokesman of the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi armed forces, said.

“Nine security centres will be opened in Baghdad soon to issue these IDs, five on the western side and four on the eastern side, and these centres will be run by the US army, Iraqi security forces and local officials in each neighbourhood,” al-Mousawi said.

He did not specify when the authorities would issue these new IDs, which would bear a person’s full name and address.

However, a former senior army official criticised the plan.

“The Iraqi government and US army are skirting around the problem instead of getting to the bottom of it,” said retired Brig Fadhil Salman Abdul-Muhaimen, who served nearly 30 years in the former Iraqi army.

“Terrorists, militants, insurgents or whatever they call them not only come from outside Baghdad, they are also residents of Baghdad,” Abdul-Muhaimen said.

There have been reports of Sunnis carrying fake IDs with Shia names and Shias carrying fake IDs with Sunni names in case insurgents or militias stop people to find out their possible sectarian affiliation.

“Sitting ducks”

For Baghdad resident Ghazwan Amin Jaafar, having such an ID will “make us sitting ducks for those who are looking for people to kidnap and kill”.

“With these IDs, we can’t trick the militants any more, as our real names and addresses will be revealed. I hope the government will think carefully before it kicks this off because it will put us in danger all the time,” said 33-year-old Jaafar.

Abdul-Muhaimen urged the government to deal with the essence of the problem. “Why are these militants entering Baghdad and carrying out attacks? It [the government] should do more on reconciliation, and bring back as many former army officers, members of the Saddam-era security services and Baath party members as possible,” he said.

Source: IRIN

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