Makeshift Checkpoint? What Makeshift Checkpoint? - 06.05.2006

I’ll send a free copy of the Alive in Baghdad DVD to anyone who can describe what Iraq’s “makeshift checkpoints,” such as the one mentioned below actually look like:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Gunmen dragged 24 civilians out of their cars at a makeshift checkpoint in a town north of Baghdad on Sunday and shot them “execution style”, a senior police official said.

Post your version of what a makeshift checkpoint is in the comments and I’ll get back to you about the dvd.

Ok, I lied. To be honest, unless there are some veteran Iraq war correspondents, Iraqis, US soldiers, or NGO aidworkers reading this blog regularly, I doubt any of you will win this bet anyhow.

The only way to define a “makeshift checkpoint” is to first define an “actual checkpoint.” Driving around Baghdad, sometimes you can travel much of the city without encountering checkpoints.

As the evening lengthens however, checkpoints seem to sprout up like weeds.

Generally speaking, a checkpoint consists of one or two vehicles parked on the side of the road, and 3 or more Iraqis standing around, usually with at least one rifle handy.

As it gets later, its nearly impossible to see these checkpoints, unless there are cars parked in front of you waiting to proceed. This makes it easy to get shot accidentally running them, and even easier to impersonate them.

US Checkpoints and semi-permanent Iraqi checkpoints-such as the major one in west Baghdad, just beyond the “Mother of All Battles Mosque,” renamed “Um Al Qura,” or Mother of Villages, after the war by the Muslim Scholars Association-are usually better established, but sometimes consist only of a few soldiers and humvees, searching cars and checking ID along the highways.

Militias, Iraqi Police, Resistance fighters, and terrorists alike all have a shockingly easy time setting up their own checkpoints.

Stories such as this one from Reuters fail to provide the nuance and insight necessary to understand the situation Iraqis find themselves in:

Iraqi Gunmen Kill 24 at Checkpoint

The two competing problems causing such a mess in Iraq continue to be the lack of oversight placed on security forces by the international community and the lack of insight provided on Iraq’s crisis by the international media.

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