BAGHDAD, Iraq April 14 —
Iraqi police and U.S. troops began jointly patrolling the
troubled Iraqi capital on Monday, stumbling over language
difficulties but determined to bring order after days of wholesale
Outside the Palestine Hotel, Marine Cpl. Scott Groff stood
uncomfortably with two local policemen.
"Can you help me talk to these guys?" Groff, of Lake Havasu City,
Ariz., asked a passing journalist. "I don't know how to talk to
"Do you speak any Arabic?" asked one of the police.
It was a rough start to the joint security program, but even
halting progress is welcome in Baghdad. A dozen towering columns of
black smoke, from fires likely set by looters, ringed the center of
the city on Monday, a baleful reminder of the anger and desperation
that grip Iraq in the wake of the U.S.-led military drive against
Despite pleas from residents terrified by lootings and robberies,
U.S. forces in Baghdad have held back from exercising police duties
out of concern such a move would send the wrong message.
"It's important that we do this jointly, rather than just us,
because there's fear among the Iraqi people that we've come as an
occupying force," a Marine officer who didn't give his name told
Associated Press Television News.
"Let me stress that we still call on Iraqis themselves to protect
their city and their country and their future," said Navy Capt.
Frank Thorp, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command in Doha,
Only a handful of patrols went out on Monday, but the new spirit
of cooperation between U.S. troops and Iraqi police brought at least
one dividend. Some Marines were standing outside a bank when robbers
ran out with some $50,000. The Marines grabbed them and turned the
money over to the police.
Looters have ransacked and burned parts of Baghdad, stealing even
priceless archaeological treasures from Iraq's national museum. On
Monday, Baghdad's Islamic Library was on fire.
And while the looting appeared to be easing, the shabbiness of
the goods being carted away indicated the decline may have been
because there wasn't much left worth taking.
In the western sector of Baghdad, where the U.S. Army is in
control rather than the Marines, a few Iraqi police were allowed to
go out on patrol on their own, their white cars flashing their
At the Iraqi police academy in Baghdad, several hundred policemen
gathered Monday in response to a call by an Arabic-language radio
station to prepare for joint patrols.
Police Lt. Col. Haitham al-Ani said the U.S. troops and the
Iraqis would patrol in separate cars and that the Iraqi police would
not be allowed to carry guns initially.
In addition, Iraqis have launched neighborhood watch programs
that are reporting to troops if they see suspicious activity, said
American forces were still dealing with resistance in some parts
of Baghdad. The fighters, often Syrians and other foreigners, were
operating individually or in small clusters, Thorp said.
Government offices and most stores remained closed Monday. But
residents were collecting garbage and burning it, and many buses
were running, packed with passengers.
In the first stirrings of Baghdad politics, a small number of
religious and civil opposition leaders met in the capital Monday to
discuss security and restoring electricity and water. The meeting
was led by an official of the opposition Iraqi National Congress,
Mohammed Mohsen Zubaidi.
The small assembly, at the central Palestine Hotel, heard a
report from an electricity board representative who said he expected
power to be restored to east Baghdad in three to four days, and to
west Baghdad within a week.
At a nearby plaza, dozens of demonstrators chanted and waved
signs protesting the lack of basic services.
"I've seen lots of children that are already sick because there's
no clean water," said Hassan Handal, 28, a chemical engineering
student. "People are having to pull dirty water up from wells in
their back yards."
|A Iraqi carries eggs and food
through Baghdad's downtown market Monday April 14 2003. as
shops started reopening in the capital. (AP Photo/Dusan
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