Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Perspective: U.S. trainers confront sectarian divisions

Iraqi army soldiers perform a car chek in Muqdadiyah

MUQDADIYAH, Iraq -- It was supposed to be a reconciliation meeting, a get-together to introduce the Sunni Muslim mayor and police chief of this city north of Baghdad to the mostly Shiite Muslim Iraqi soldiers who had been assigned to protect their town.

But as the mayor and police chief approached the entrance to the Iraqi army base at Muqdadiyah last month, Iraqi troops seized their bodyguards and tossed them to the ground. Then the soldiers put their boots on the bodyguards' backs, a literal reminder that the Sunni officials were under the boot of the Shiite military.

For the Americans assigned to train Iraqi troops, the incident was another in a long string of problems that convinced many of them that it will be years before Iraq's army can stand on its own.

Read the rest at the Bee