No unity yet

There’s just one major problem with the national unity cabinet presented by Iraq’s new prime minister. On the most important national issue — reforming Iraq’s corrupt, brutal and highly partisan security forces — no unity has yet been achieved.

To some Iraqi politicians, it appears, the prospect of civil war seems less terrifying than the prospect of compromise over who will control the vital security ministries: defence, interior and national security. The core of the problem lies with the Interior Ministry and the police. Early US efforts to train a professional police force were understaffed and under-financed by the Pentagon. Even as Iraq dissolved into chaos and insurgency, US continued to short change these efforts.

Meanwhile, ad hoc Iraqi responses grew increasingly brutal and indiscriminate. The worst abuses occurred under the outgoing interior minister, Bayan Jabr, a former officer from a hardline Shiite militia. It will now take a strong, reform-minded new interior minister, not a politically brokered caretaker, to root out these abuses. A thoroughgoing reform of the security services is needed to assure all Iraqis that they will be protected. And unless security is guaranteed, the endless shuffling and reshuffling of cabinet posts among political party chieftains will be all but irrelevant. — The New York Times