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Last Updated:  Thursday, 10 April, 2003, 21:21 GMT 22:21 UK
Analysis: Calm must come quickly
The BBC's Jonathan Marcus
By Jonathan Marcus
BBC defence correspondent at US Central Command, Qatar

Civilians haul items from the German Embassy during looting
The looting continues in Iraq

Even as the problems of war continue so the problems of establishing peace are looming their ugly heads.

Suicide bombing, looting, disorder, and factional or religious differences threaten to prevent an easy transition to something like normal life.

The problem is that peace is a great deal more than just the absence of war.

Conflict - especially the overthrow of a repressive regime - has frequently been followed by chaos and retribution.

You only have to think of the aftermath of the liberation of France after the World War II, when there was a wave of score-settling and many people died.

But the British and the Americans cannot afford a lengthy period of disorder.

Better life

Part of their claim to the legitimacy of this operation is that they will bring a better life to ordinary Iraqis.

Their forces are still very much in the media spotlight.

And in purely legal terms - as an occupying power (whatever their talk about liberation) - they have a duty to maintain order. That is not easy.

Iraq has been invaded by a relatively small force.

Coalition soldier and Iraqis
Troops will still have to be wary of suicide attackers
To mount full-scale peacekeeping operations in Baghdad, Basra and throughout the towns and cities across the country, would take many more troops than are available.

As in so many things, the military can step into the breach temporarily.

But the US and Britain are unlikely to want to deploy additional soldiers on the ground.

The British in particular badly need to scale down their forces once the war is over.

They may well end up being responsible for security in a much larger area of southern Iraq than they currently occupy.

Manpower problem

All sorts of creative solutions may be needed; for example Britain could provide a military framework into which a number of other countries might provide battalions for peacekeeping duties.

That is part of the answer to more manpower.

But the hope of senior British officers is that they will be able to find pieces of the Iraqi administrative system to assist in doing the job.

For example, it may be possible to try to resurrect elements of the police force to protect property and deal with ordinary crime.

The more existing Iraqi structures can be used, so the process of normalisation will proceed faster.

Iraqi civilians
The fighting is far from over
Maintaining law and order will not be the only problem.

Bombings or attacks by die-hard members of the regime could continue.

There is a danger that groups whom the Americans regard as terrorists could seek to infiltrate elements into Iraq to conduct attacks against US forces.

The Americans also have to deal with the complex ethnic and religious patchwork of the country.

The murder of a prominent Shia cleric in Najaf and the occupation of the northern city of Kirkuk by Kurdish fighters are both emblematic of the sorts of difficulties that may lie ahead.

The problems of post-war Iraq are fast becoming evident and the fighting itself is still far from over.

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