Iraqi government paying locals to fight militants in Anbar province

BAGHDAD --  United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon flew to Baghdad on Monday to discuss the growing  violence in Iraq. On Monday alone, there were four car bombings in the capital. At least 26 people were killed.

West of Baghdad, Iraq's army is in a standoff with militants linked to al Qaeda.

The battleground in Anbar province is less than 40 miles from the capital, so a CBS News team decided to drive out and take a look.

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Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, right, gives a joint press conference with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Baghdad, Iraq, Jan. 13, 2014. The U.N. chief expressed deep concerns Monday over the deteriorating security situation in Iraq as an unprecedented standoff is under way between Iraqi troops and al Qaeda-linked militants in western Anbar province.
Ali Al-Saadi, AP
They made it beyond the the western suburbs of Baghdad on the road to Ramadi and Fallujah, and made it through several checkpoints before being stopped by security forces.

At least 60,000 security forces have sealed off the area. But, under pressure from the United States and its allies, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has decided not to order a full-scale assault against the al Qaeda-linked fighters because, he said, he wants to avoid bloodshed.

Instead, he is offering local tribesmen just over $400 a month to drive the militants out themselves.

It’s much the same strategy the U.S. military used to defeat militants in the same area in 2005.

And it worked, at least for a while. But now those same terrorists are back.

"They are definitely in the provinces around Baghdad, hitting Baghdad every single day without hesitation and without the government being able to get them, apprehend them and get them to justice," said opposition leader Ayad Allawi, a former interim prime minister.

Allawi says bad government has let terrorism sink deep roots.

"What we have is corruption and more corruption and continuous corruption. We don't have an army and police that can protect us from al Qaeda," Allawi said.

Iraqis were reminded of that again Monday, when in spite of police and army checkpoints everywhere, terrorists were able to detonate four bombs in busy streets, killing more than two dozen innocent people.


  • Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."

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