Maliki’s Basra Security Initiative Fails
25 Bodies Found in Baghdad, Basra
Al-Zaman/ AFP say that a firestorm of protest is building in Iraq over the alleged rape and killing of a 15 year old Iraqi girl in Mahmudiyah, and the murder of her family, by a US GI. MP Safiyah Suhail, a woman representative from the National Iraqi List in parliament, demanded that PM Nuri al-Maliki and Interior Minister Jawad al-Bulani present themselves to parliament for questioning in the matter. She demanded that the Iraqi government be involved in the investigation. She said that this was a matter that touched on the honor of the Iraqi nation and the female MPs had a special role to play in demanding an accounting.
Suhail is former ambassador to Egypt of the new Iraqi government and stood against the imposition of Islamic law on Iraqi women. That a secular person is so stirred up about this suggests to you what the Sunni and Shiite fundamentalists are thinking. For most Iraqis, honor is bound up in the chastity of their women, at least in public, and a foreigner raping an Iraqi girl is a profound humiliation for the entire country. This matter is not going to go away quietly and if the Bush administration thinks it is just a matter of disciplining unruly troops, it has another think coming. Entire colonial empires have been shaken by such incidents in the past.
Al-Zaman reports that 21 bodies were discovered in Baghdad, and another 4 in Basra. Typically these are victims of faith-based ethnic cleansing campaigns.
Al-Zaman also reports 3 other incidents:
1. US troops for the fifth day surrounded the town of Ratba, such that no one could leave or enter without stating his business, and the situation with regard to health and medicine within is deteriorating.
2. US troops invaded the party headquarters of Adnan Dulaimi, a meber of parliament, in Tikrit, arresting guards and confiscating even licensed firearms. Dulaimi leads the Iraqi Accord Front in parliament, with 44 seats out of 275. At the moment, his bloc has suspended membership, to protest the kidnapping of one of their members on Saturday in a Shiite area controlled by Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.
3. Gunmen assassinated 4 persons in Karbala, including 2 Baathists.
The deputy minister of electricity, Raad al-Haris, and 19 of his bodyguards were kidnapped in east Baghdad on Tuesday, held for several hours, and then released.
The Iraqi government is studying a request by Sunni Arab guerrilla groups for arms so that they can fight foreign elements on behalf of the government they had been trying to overthrow. I know. I can’t understand it either. Sounds to me like insurgents figuring out a way to have the government pay for their insurgency. There aren’t that many foreign fighters in Iraq, anyway.
With Italy and Japan withdrawing their troops, the British are feeling increasingly isolated in southern Iraq, where they have 8,000 troops to provide security to several million Iraqis. Tony Blair signalled Tuesday that there is a limit even to his patience (and longevity), and that the US can’t count on this level of UK support past late 2007.
The bad news is that many Iraqis themselves in the south believe that the British pull-out from Maysan and Muthanna provinces is premature. Muthanna’s police chief has just resigned, and the province’s governor has tendered his resignation, though he will stay on for a bit.
For some strange reason, the governing council took it into its head to fire 300 policemen in Samawa. This desperate action, exactly the wrong thing to do as the British depart, suggests that even provinces in the oil-rich south are strapped for cash. The fired policemen are not going quietly, and are demonstrating. One of them even broke into the house of a council member and beat him up. The governing council members complain that they have no security. (Then why did they fire 300 policemen?) If this kind of chaos is going to attend the British withdrawal over the next 18 months, it is not a good sign.
And, from what Nancy Youssef of the McClatchy Newspapers group reports about Basra, chaos is not likely to go away any time soon. She concludes that PM Nuri al-Maliki’s security initiative in Basra has simply failed. The 10th Army Division troop presence and checkpoints faded quickly, and militia and tribal violence and in-fighting proceeded apace, as did the ethnic cleansing of Sunni Arabs and assassinations of Sunni intellectuals and a major cleric.
Raheem Salman and Borzou Daragahi of the LA Times confirm this picture, likening the key oil exporting port in the south to gang-ridden Chicago of the 1920s. They say that the violence is driven by turf wars over oil smuggling. If this allegation is correct, that Iraq is again producing 2.5 million barrels a day of oil is irrelevant to the country’s security. The real question is who is capturing these profits (apparently there is no functioning audit that would answer the question). Smuggling apparently amounts to $4 billion a year, not chump change. The major Shiite party-militias in Basra are competing for this money, including the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq/ Badr Corps and Fadhila (the Virtue Party). It appears to be the case that Marsh Arab tribes are also involved in the competition.
Salman and Daragahi write,
‘ “Not only is Basra falling apart, but the means to reverse the trend are disappearing. As conditions deteriorate, the educated middle classes — the people who know how to run the city — are leaving Basra in droves. Nearly 60 university professors have left out of frustration, officials said. “There are no technocrats in the government,” said Shara, whose party is deemed one of the principal players in Basra’s political drama. “If there were such specialists, they could address reconstruction and we would have improved services.” ‘
Progressive groups launched a 24-hour fast on July 4 for US withdrawal from Iraq.
World leaders are making suggestions for resolving the Iraq imbroglio. Indian PM Manmohan Singh says that a full restoration of sovereignty to the Iraqi people is necessary. (He doesn’t seem convinced that the elected Iraq parliament and cabinet is actually sovereign). Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said that ‘his government does not support presence of foreign troops in Iraq and had thus withdrawn the country’s forces from there. “Iraq should be food for thought. It should be a lesson,” he said. . . . He said he would prefer UN forces in Iraq to present multilateralism. ‘
Menzies Campbell, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the UK, is also convinced that we need to bring the United Nations in.
I agree about the UN, providing it is recognized up front that this is a hot war and the blue helmets would need to be authorized to do active peace enforcement, not just passive peace keeping. There isn’t any peace to keep. It will in any case have to wait until January of 2009, since the very clever but very shallow man now in the White House can’t imagine not winning all on his own.
Al-Zaman in English reports that 190 physicians employed by the Iraqi Ministry of Health have been killed since April, 2003, and 400 kidnapped. An Arabic report said that in toto, 590 physicians have been kidnapped, and 1,000 have fled the country in fear (see below)
The USG Open Source Center paraphrases highlights of the Iraqi press for July 4; excerpts:
‘. . . Al-Adalah publishes on page 6 a 1,100-word article by Sadiq al-Rasafi strongly condemning an Iraqi writer for publishing an article in Al-Quds al-Arabi praising Al-Zarqawi.
Al-Ittijah al-Akhar on 1 July carries on page 31 an 800-word article by Mahmud al-Mifraji commenting on Al-Zarqawi’s death. The writer says that terrorism will not be stopped in Iraq as long as United States remains in Iraq. . .
Tariq al-Sha’b publishes on the front page a 1,100-word report entitled ‘Iraqi and Chinese Communist Parties Meet To Discuss Ways To Enhance Relations between Two Countries and People. . .
Al-Bayyinah al-Jadidah carries on the front page a 180-word report citing Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani saying during his meeting with parliament member Jalal-al-Din al-Saghir that the conspiracy targeting Iraqis is being planned outside Iraq. . .
Al-Bayyinah publishes on page 1 a 300-word report citing an unidentified security source saying that the Ba’th Party is planning to kindle sectarian strife by assassinating Muqtada al-Sadr and Jalal-al-Din al-Saghir and dominating Baghdad’s Al-Karkh neighborhood. . .
Al-Bayyinah runs on page 4 a 250-word report on the comments of workers in the Bayji Oil Refinery on quitting their work because of terrorist threats.
Al-Muwatin carries on the front page a 140-word report citing a spokesperson for British forces in Basra confirming the discovery of weapons and cars in a raid by joint Iraqi-British forces in Safwan District yesterday, 3 July. . .
Tariq al-Sha’b runs on the front page a 120-word report citing a security source confirming that five people, including two police officers, were injured in clashes with demonstrators demanding the resignation of Al-Shamiyah administrator and Municipality Council. . .
Al-Bayyinah al-Jadidah carries on the front page a 200-word report citing Husayn al-Bahrayni, secretary general of Oil Derivatives Distribution Company as saying that employees at the ministry are involved in smuggling fuel in collaboration with the National Guards. . .
Al-Bayyinah al-Jadidah carries on page 5 a 1,000-word report citing tribal shaykhs and citizens in Babil commenting on the security deterioration in the governorate and calling for the dismissal of Babil Police Director Qays al-Ma’muri.
Al-Da’wah carries on the front page a 90-word report citing tribal shaykhs in Diyala Governorate calling for the dismissal of Mujahidin-e-Khalq Organization members from the governorate for its role in Iraq’s instability. . .
Al-Mada runs on page 2 a 120-word report that the governor of Diyala has escaped an assassination attempt. . .
Al-Zaman runs on page 4 a 300-word report on a commemoration ceremony by the Health Ministry for physicians killed by terrorists. The report cites officials in the ministry saying that 590 physicians have been killed and kidnapped and 1,000 migrated . . .
Al-Sabah carries on page 9 a 2,000-word report on the spread of heart diseases and the shortage of medical care and medicines in Iraq.
Al-Sabah runs on page 15 a 1,000-word report citing Red Cross Organization Spokesman Nada Dumani commenting on the organization’s efforts to provide humanitarian aid in Iraq.
Al-Bayyinah publishes on page 5 a 3,000-word report on the suffering of Iraqi children and mothers due to security disorder and economic conditions. . .
Al-Adalah publishes on page 3 a 600-word report citing an official source at Labor and Social Affairs Ministry confirming that the ministry has provided jobs to 207,587 unemployed workers out of the 839,092 unemployed workers registered at the ministry. . .
Al-Sabah al-Jadid carries on page 4 a 530-word report on the demonstration staged by unemployed workers in Al-Kut demanding jobs. . .
Al-Ittijah al-Akhar on 1 July carries on page 2 a 600-word exclusive report on a statement by an Iraqi humanitarian organization that 3,685 Iraqi women are the victims of political, sectarian, and moral violence in the last three years.
Al-Ittijah al-Akhar on 1 July carries on page 5 a 130-word exclusive report on a statement by the UN Mission in Iraq that 5 percent of Iraqi people are homeless. . .
Al-Da’wah carries on page 2 a 60-word report citing Oil Minister Husayn al-Shahristani saying that a group of laws that will organize foreign investment and private investment will be issued soon. . .
Al-Zaman runs on page 20 a 400-word article by Fatih Abd-al-Salam criticizing the US soldiers for raping a 16-year old Iraqi girl. . .