Another Tale of Two Cities*
Neighborhood Watch:  from Ann Arbor to Baghdad

Sandra L. Arlinghaus
Fall, 2007

In Baghdad, according to ElAyoubi, a crime prevention program was set in place, about four years ago, under the direction of an expert in crime prevention from Northern Ireland.  The program began in Baghdad.  Some information is available on the Internet.  Recent press reports claim success for Neighborhood Watch programs in and around Baghdad.  ElAyoubi notes that while one might see large superficial differences between the way that crime prevention is implemented in Ann Arbor and Baghdad, that the conceptual base is similar.  Indeed, she also notes that in rural parts of the south in the USA (particularly in states where a gun is just a natural part of one's wardrobe) that for those US communities the implementation of crime prevention is not all that different from Baghdad.
  1. Climatic and weather systems including the water cycle--rivers are important as both geographical "barriers to" and "carriers of" goods and information.  They are also traditional chokepoints in the movement of military supplies and personnel.  From a crime prevention and neighborhood watch perspective, bridges need to be secured.  The bridges of Baghdad are secured with checkpoints.  Nonetheless, there has been disaster:  link to photo of damaged bridge; link to locational shot of bridge.
  2. Terrain and topographic formation--relate to river issues again, especially as they might offer observational vantage points from the highlands or hiding places behind bluffs.
  3. Changing natural resources distribution and utilization such as movements of plants and animals both domesticated and wild--oil is a key player lurking in the background.
  4. Population settlements and movements such as urbanization and migration--ease of neighborhood watch formation may be reflected in these processes, particularly in Baghdad where recent immigrants may feel ties to tribes stronger than ties to Baghdad, which has recently experienced burgeoning population growth.  Tribal affiliation may suggest a climate in which it is natural to introduce affiliation to other small groups, such as neighborhood watch groups.  Some of the regions outside Baghdad in which there has been ongoing tribal turmoil are precisely the regions in which recent neighborhood watch efforts have been successful. Fallujah, Anbar (.kmz file), and Diyala offer some interesting examples.  Inside Baghdad, some of the most successful applications of neighborhood watch have been in some of most violent sections of the city (Adhamiya).
  5. Family establishment and reproduction.  The role of women is critical, particularly when women are used by one group to infiltrate another.  Such an approach suggests a deep understanding of directing the continuity of a broad system by permeating it locally.  Such orientation may facilitate the implementation of crime prevention using neighborhood watch concepts.
  6. Political institutions' operation.  International cooperation was critical in establishing crime prevention in Baghdad.  The lead was taken by a crime prevention expert from Northern Ireland.
  7. Social institutions' operation.  The strong role of tribal structure may be important in structuring neighborhood watch, not only in terms of respecting existing social boundaries, but also in terms of harnessing existing patterns of allegiance to groups smaller than broad religious or political groupings.
  8. Economic instutions' operation including land use systems' operation.  Locational strategy for checkpoints might well be related to the road network.  Google Earth offers interesting views of traffic patterns in Baghdad.
This GEOMAT includes a number of different formats for displaying evidence:
  1. Maps which show the features of the areas where significant events took place.  A clickable map outlines a neighborhood in Baghdad for the reader and links the reader to a video of neighborhood watch in that region.
  2. Calendrical timelines showing the sequence of different kinds of events at appropriate scales.  The focus in this GEOMAT is on the time period from 2002, when Baghdad suspended oil exports for a month and  U.S. President Bush told the UN General Assembly session to confront the "grave and gathering danger" of Iraq--or stand aside as the U.S. acts.
  3. Identification of specific events, especially landmark events which irrevocably changed the situation being chronicled by the case study.  The landmark event here is the introduction of crime prevention, by the expert from Northern Ireland, in 2004.
  4. Biographies, accounts, and images of human actors.  For these we are reliant on the second-hand account of ElAyoubi (who has direct connection to the expert from Northern Ireland) and on materials found on the Internet.
  5. Reports about and images of other actors such as plants, animals, landscape features, terrain, mineral deposits, productive land use, weather and climate.--Bridges reflect climatic and associated drainage patterns.  They are communications chokepoints and need to be secured early-on, as in Baghdad.  Nonetheless, disaster can strike...bridge picture.
  6. Arrays of archival documents, records of messages exchanged, oral history accounts and contemporary images.  Linked materials are present throughout this GEOMAT.  Google Earth is helpful in providing contemporary images, not only of terrain and buildings, but also for associated photographs and commentary.
  7. Accounts of, documents and images from contemporary settlements such as cities, towns, villages, resorts.  Again, Google Earth is useful and links to materials derived from that source are present throughout this GEOMAT.
  8. Documents and images from archeological sites and records of past settlements.--in the case of Baghdad, tribal structure from the rural area may transplant naturally to the urban setting, particularly on the part of recent immigrants from rural areas.  This derived structure may help to serve as a basis for introducing neighborhood watch.
Adele ElAyoubi, Crime Prevention Specialist, City of Ann Arbor Police Department
Dave Kilcullen "Anatomy of a Tribal Revolt," Small Wars Journal,  Posted on August 29, 2007, 2:52 a.m.