Sadrists: Iraqi Military Breaking Ceasefire

The USG Open Source Center translates a transcript of al-Sharqiya Television interview with Sadr Movement official Salah al-Obeidi in which he charges that the Iraqi and US militairies have violated the recent ceasefire agreement.

May 19, 2008 Monday

AL-SADR TREND OFFICIAL SAYS IRAQI ARMY, OTHER FORCES VIOLATED AGREEMENT

Text of report by Dubai-based Iraqi private Al-Sharqiyah TV on 18 May

[Telephone interview with Salah al-Ubaydi, spokesman of the Al-Sadr Trend, in Baghdad by anchorperson Khama’il al-Amili in Dubai – live]

[Al-Amili] An Iraqi security source has reported violations by armed elements, saying that these elements attacked joint Iraqi forces in Al-Sadr City and Al-Ma’amil area east of Baghdad last night, resulting in the killing of four and the injury of 38 others. The source, which did not want its identity revealed, said that armed men detonated a bomb while a patrol was passing in Al-Ma’amil area, and that an exchange of fire followed the explosion. Armed elements opened fire at Iraqi soldiers in the southern neighbourhood of Al-Sadr City, killing four and injuring 38, including a number of children. The source said that the attacks began Saturday evening and continued until midnight.

With me on the telephone is Mr Salah al-Ubaydi, spokesman of the Al-Sadr Trend. Mr al-Ubaydi, given the current violations of the agreement, I ask you if this agreement between you and the Iraqi Coalition is still valid.

[Al-Ubaydi] In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate. The 16-point agreement continues to be valid. Both sides agree that violations here or there do not mean that the agreement is cancelled, because implementing these 16 points requires extensive monitoring and efforts because of lack trust especially between the two sides, the people in the Al-Sadr City in general and the security forces. There is fear of major and arbitrary campaigns and attacks such as the attacks that took place in Karbala, Al-Diwaniyah, and Basra. These apprehensions created lack of trust.

Therefore, we need to follow up the implementation of these points in the field for a long period of time in order to implement the agreement properly.

[Al-Amili] You said that the agreement’s implementation requires extensive monitoring and there have been violations. Do you attribute these violations to weakness related to assurances between the two sides?

[Al-Ubaydi] No, in fact the basic problem was that in previous phases and campaigns, the government did not draw up a mechanism to bring the violators to account or to punish the Army and police personnel who abuse the powers given to them and violate people’s safety, security, and interests. The government must draw up mechanisms for punishing wrongdoers, such as dismissal or other forms of punishment. The golden rule is that lack of punishment engenders wrongdoing. Therefore, during the first phase, implementing such a mechanism to correct the performance of the security services personnel would not be easy.

The agreement stipulates that the government must use a special penal code to punish the security services in case they encroach on citizens rights. We are demanding normal rights of citizenship in Al-Sadr City, and this is what many Iraqis want in other governorates as well.

[Al-Amili] Have you reported these points and these ideas to the Coalition, and hence to the government, so they can tackle the violations in order to avoid any collapse of this agreement?

[Al-Ubaydi] Certainly, we have reaffirmed that. This is the basic point, and there has been a transformation in the thinking of the government. The government has started to admit this. Certain sides from those who speak in the name of the government or those who speak on its behalf, have recently admitted, especially after the recent meeting and the dialogue that resulted in the agreement, that there are violations, that these violations are expanding beyond expectations. They admit that the wrongdoers must be punished. Therefore, they started to defend themselves, saying that the security campaigns are not politicized. The proof that their campaigns are not politicized –

[Al-Amili, interrupting] Excuse me, Mr Al-Ubaydi, but they held you responsible for these violations.

[Al-Ubaydi] These are claims. This is one of the points that we would want to reaffirm. Some of the spokesmen of the security services make statements that are not only incorrect but are obviously (?fabricated) as well. Let us take, for instance, the latest violations in Al-Sadr City. The main violation was by the personnel of the 11th Division, who have been directing insults at the citizens over loudspeakers mounted on their vehicles. This is a way of provoking the citizen. Now there is supposed to be an agreement. The soldiers are supposed to be familiar with this agreement. What happened was that during one of their patrols in one of the crowded markets in the Al-Ula area of Al-Sadr City one afternoon, these soldiers began to direct insults at the citizens. There were verbal exchanges with a number of citizens, who included women, and they responded to them and rejected their violations. Therefore, they opened fire to silence the voices that rejected their encroachments. That was what happened.

As for the official spokesman who says that they opened fire and they tried to respond to the fire, I ask: Who opened fire? Was a one-year-old child, a three-year-old child or a woman capable of doing that? This is impossible. If they opened fire, then what losses did the patrol incur? They incurred no losses at all. How is it possible to raise such claims? If the patrol was passing through an area, which, according to their military calculations, is insecure, then would it be possible for them to use arms the moment they hear the sound of a shot and direct their weapons at ordinary citizen in a crowded market?

All these are facts, refuting the statement by the law enforcement spokesman. From this place, I ask the brother spokesmen to be objective and look at events realistically and try to mete out justice to the citizen because the citizen is being oppressed by many services, especially the government security services, as well as non-security services that deal with thefts and financial and administrative corruption. We want justice to the citizens and measures against encroachment on them, whether by the government or others.

[Al-Amili] Mr Salah al-Ubaydi, spokesman of the Al-Sadr Trend, thank you.

Source: Al-Sharqiyah TV, Dubai, in Arabic 1936 gmt 18 May 08

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