Baghdad Taxi

A documentary by Paul Moreira, Seddik Chettab & Tal Zana
First broadcast March 24, 2007 on Arte

In Iraq, one in two policemen hide their faces. They don’t want to be recognised by the civilians and some don’t even want to be identified by their own colleagues. A crew from Arte Reportage went to Kirkuk, a large town in Iraq’s northern oilfields that is being torn apart by three factions. The Kurds, who control the region, the Turkmens and the Sunni Arabs who make up the majority of the rebels. The civil war which has torn communities apart is now gaining the police force. Just a few days before we began filming, one policeman drove his booby-trapped car into headquarters and blew himself and others up among his own co-workers.
Police captain Moosab is Kurdish, and says he hates going out on patrols with his Arab colleagues. “We work together every day but we’re never really sure whether they might be terrorists”. Iraq has become a nation without a State. Across the country large numbers of people have been forced to leave their homes. It’s happened to one in six Iraqis. They leave because they no longer trust the police ability to protect them. The Americans try and train the Iraqi police in US law enforcement methods. They’re taught to look at the ID’s of suspect drivers. But during a meeting, which we were allowed to film, Iraqi officers told a stunned audience of American soldiers that that wasn’t their problem. They were, they said, incapable of controlling who was recruited. “Of the 1,000 policemen we hired”, one officer explained, “half had a criminal record and 14 were fired after it was discovered they were on the run from prison sentences for rape and murder”. The US Army will likely withdraw all its forces from Iraq and, according to the Los Angeles Times, leave behind only a few thousand military advisers. Their job would be to prepare Iraqi forces to take control of the country’s security, in the hope they will succeed in bringing the civil war to a peaceful end.