Thursday, January 18, 2007

Interesting Developments in Iraq

Several interesting things have happened in the last couple of days in Iraq. The military has regained some of its honor, Baathists are being invited back into the Iraqi government, and al Maliki seems to be cracking down on Muqtada's army. What's next--"dogs and cats living together?"

Nouri Cracks Down

Pressure from Sunni members of the Iraqi government and from the Bush administration appear to have Nouri al Maliki doing what he wouldn't do before--cracking down on Muqtada al Sadr. This is a far cry from a few months ago when al Maliki required US troops to pack up their Sadr City checkpoints and go home. We'll see how long it lasts...

Meanwhile, Muqtada's henchmen are a bit perplexed by the whole deal:

Mahdi Army fighters said Thursday they were under siege in their Sadr City stronghold as U.S. and Iraqi troops killed or seized key commanders in pinpoint nighttime raids. Two commanders of the Shiite militia said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has stopped protecting the group under pressure from Washington and threats from Sunni Muslim Arab governments.

Ahmad Enlarges the Tent

Ahmad Chalabi chairs a commission to remove former Baath party members from public office, but wait! He's decided to invite over 2,000 of them back in. Actually it's a little bit late to try to make up for one of the worst (and first) decisions of Henry Kissinger's little buddy, L. Paul Bremer III. But hopefully it will have a positive effect.

Chalabi, who heads a commission charged with removing former ranking Baath Party members from public office, told reporters at a Baghdad news conference that the Iraqi government had changed course and was now trying to bring more Baathists back into government.

The draconian de-Baathification laws established by American administrator L. Paul Bremer III after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion rankled Iraq's Sunni Arab minority, which served in Hussein's political party in greater proportion than other Iraqi groups. Reforming those laws has been a key demand of the Bush administration as well as the Sunnis, whose alienation from the political process has fueled violence.

Chalabi said more than 2,300 former high-ranking Baath Party members had been or were being reinstated to their government jobs or were being given pensions.

However, Chalabi gave assurances that the ongoing reinstatements would not allow those who committed crimes against Iraqis under the former regime to go scot-free. "These exclusions are not to be considered an amnesty,"...

US Military Removes a Bit of Tarnish from its Honor

In perhaps the second most despicable (see below) act the US Military has committed on Iraqi soil, one Marine has plead guilty to murder for framing an Iraqi villager as an insurgent and then killing him for it. Others have already plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for their testimony.

Prosecutors say the squad kidnapped 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad in Hamdania, took him to a roadside hole and shot him to death. They placed an AK-47 and shovel by his body to try to make it look like Awad was an insurgent caught in the act of planting a bomb, prosecutors said.

Following the most despicable act committed in Iraq by the US Military, a US soldier has plead guilty to rape of an Iraqi girl and the murder of her and her family. The only unfortunate result of his pleading is that he will no longer face the death penalty, which apparently he richly deserves.

Prosecutors said the five soldiers spotted Abeer Kassem Hamza al-Janabi on the street and plotted to break into her home to rape her.

Once there, they killed her parents, Kassem Hamza Rachid al-Janabi and Fakhriya Taha Mohsine al-Janabi and six year old sister, Hadeel Kassem Hamza al-Janabi.

Then they raped the girl, shot her and set fire to her body.

It's the Economy, Stupid!
more to come...


Rich Warnick said...

Moqtada al-Sadr may not be a very good strategist, because he unwisely confronted the Americans in 2004 and was lucky to survive. But he's smart enough now to know that if the Mahdi Army stashes their weapons and uniforms, we'll never find most of them. By some estimates, he has 40,000 fighters as opposed to 20,000 Sunni insurgents.

Sure, a few high-profile leaders will be arrested for show (not Moqtada, of course). Then, all Maliki has to do is play along while the US Army and Marines help his side in the civil war.

On the subject of Chalabi, why isn't he in jail?

Frank Staheli said...

Along with your statement: "all Maliki has to do is play along while the US Army and Marines help his side in the civil war." -- In one of the stories I read (maybe the one I linked to), the numbers of detainees were so high because they arrested every single adult male who could reasonably use a firearm, or something like that.

Rich Warnick said...

Oops, it appears that al-Maliki's government is distancing itself from the arrest of Sheik Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji.

"There was no coordination with the Iraqi political leadership and this arrest was not part of the new security plan," the adviser, Sadiq al-Rikabi, told Al-Arabiya. "Coordination with the Iraqi political leadership is needed before conducting such operations that draw popular reactions."

Rich Warnick said...

Tonight on the PBS NewsHour, LA Times reporter Borzou Daragahi cast doubt on the Maliki government's report of arresting 400 members of the Mahdi Army. Instead, he said the militiamen seem to be disappearing from Baghdad. One good effect of this is a sharp decline in the daily body count of executed Sunnis.

Rich Warnick said...

There's a telling quote in a McClatchy New Service story I saw on page A4 of this morning's Salt Lake Tribune (apparently not on the SLT website).

Army LTC Scott Bleichwehl, a senior US military spokesman in Baghdad, said: "We're not necessarily going after the militia. If the militia don't come after us, then we won't go after them."

Translation: if you guys are smart, lay low and we'll fight your civil war for you.

Anonymous said...

Sadr isn't stupid. He's announced he's ending his boycott.,8599,1580966,00.html

Frank Staheli said...

I just found this on yahoo that goes into more detail. It appears that al Maliki has become convinced that al Sadr's people are part of the problem, and has stopped declaring them off-limits to Coalition forces. I'm confused by this. I might try and go back and see if al Maliki has really flip-flopped as many times as it seems to me he has.