Why is Baghdad removing checkpoints during security crisis?

Despite the new security measures, explosions resumed in early December in different neighborhoods of the capital. On Dec. 20, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi warned that there is information that the Karrada district will be targeted again. He said in a press conference, “We warn the enemy against trying to carry out bombings similar to those targeting Karrada district after the liberation of Fallujah.” He called for vigilance and caution and stressed the need for “a collective solidarity in the face of any security breach, and for not portraying it as a general collapse.”

Fears of removing checkpoints and barriers were coupled with calls for maintaining surveillance checkpoints (security checkpoints that do not search vehicles, but monitor them only), according to Majed al-Gharawi, a member of the parliamentary Defense and Security Committee.

Gharawi told Al-Monitor, “Removing checkpoints and cement barriers and opening the streets is an essential public demand. But we call for maintaining the surveillance checkpoints to help the intelligence efforts.” He added, “The checkpoints are burdening citizens and do not offer real benefits. They only cause traffic and create complaints and anger among citizens.”

Security control in Baghdad is almost impossible amid the current political conflict, the multiple security institutions that lack necessary equipment, the availability of weapons to all citizens and their use in tribal and political conflicts, not to mention the easy targeting of innocent people.

Baghdad and some nearby provinces will likely see repeated explosions in the coming stage in response to the losses that the Islamic State (IS) is bearing in the ongoing battle to recapture Mosul. Security expert Hashem al-Hashimi told Al-Monitor, “IS hotbeds in Baghdad and south Iraq will carry out dirty operations that will shake up society to retaliate for their big losses in Mosul.”

Finally, IS sleeper cells in Baghdad will remain a serious threat to the capital's security. As they are well-prepared and well-organized, confronting them is a tough task for the security forces in charge of protecting the city.

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