The USG Open Source Center translates a recent interview with Baghdad mayor Sabir al-Isawi in a Czech newspaper. The mayor 1) denies that the US troop ‘surge’ is the major reason for the reduced violence in Iraq; 2) complains bitterly that US armored corps drivers continually run their tanks over lampposts, gardens and other things in Baghdad streets instead of going around them; and 3) says that that the US military too often goes in with guns blazing unnecessarily and arbitrarily detains too many Iraqis, treating them in ways that contravene human rights standards.
He also says plainly that there will never be a street in Baghdad named after George W. Bush!
Mayor al-Isawi seems to be more cordial toward Iran than toward the US. The Shiite Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq headed by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim won the January 2005 provincial elections in Baghdad, so I presume al-Isawi is a member of ISCI, which was formed in exile in Iran in 1982 under the guidance of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Interview with Baghdad Mayor Sabir al-Isawi by Teodor Marjanovic in Prague; date not given: “‘I Have Survived Four Assassination Attempts:’ Baghdad Mayor Says Americans Are Often Hard To Deal With and Explains What Has Calmed Down Sectarian Killing in His Country”
Saturday, September 20, 2008
OSC Translated Excerpt
. . . (Marjanovic) What has caused the improvement of the situation in Iraq?
(Al-Isawi) There are two reasons. The uprising of the Sunnite tribes against Al-Qa’ida as a result of its unending bomb attacks. Initially, Al-Qa’ida had enjoyed those tribes’ support. The other cause is Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s resolve with which he crushed the Shiite militias in Basra and Baghdad’s Sadr City. Even without the help and, at the beginning, knowledge of the United States.
(Marjanovic) They used to say that Al-Maliki was in cahoots with these militias.
(Al-Isawi) Yes, and he proved that it was not true. The political parties, then, finally began to approach the government. It became evident that the prime minister did not want to have anything in common with these Iran-supported armed groups.
(Marjanovic) Here in the West, the reports go that the crucial role was played by the increase of American soldiers last spring.
(Al-Isawi) This was a partial reason for the calming down. Another such partial reason was that the Iraqi armed forces are now working much better. But the two things I mentioned are certainly the most important.
(Marjanovic) When you look back, do you think that the Iraqis should be grateful to the Americans for something?
(Al-Isawi) Yes and no. As Iraqis, we should feel gratitude that the Americans brought down the hated Saddam regime for us. But — and I wish to say it very strongly — so long as the Americans continue to be stuck in their ruts, the last remainder of gratitude will evaporate. They ought to be able to be liberators and not act as occupiers.
(Marjanovic) Be concrete.
(Al-Isawi) During detentions, they do not heed human rights. They carry out raids without reason. They shoot more than necessary. They shrink from quickly determining the exact relations between the two states so that the situation no longer is that one occupies while the other obeys.
(Marjanovic) And how do they complicate the life for you,as the City Hall?
(Al-Isawi) They are driving their heavy vehicles and tanks insensitively, through people’s gardens. They crush sidewalks. They demolish lampposts. They are driving, there is a post, but they will not go around it.
(Marjanovic) Can you complain?
(Al-Isawi) Yes, we call them and sometimes they pay for repairs. But this is not just the question of money. One example: it took us six months to build an orchard. Then arrived a tank, and the six months’ efforts were destroyed within a moment.
(Marjanovic) But you are aware of the thousands of Americans who perished in Iraq.
(Al-Isawi) Of course, they must not be forgotten.
(Marjanovic) Can you imagine a street or a square in Baghdad being named after George W Bush one day?
(Al-Isawi) No. (passage omitted on Baghdad citizens’ daily troubles)
(Description of Source: Prague iDnes.cz in Czech — Website of best-selling, independent, center-right daily; most popular print source among decisionmakers; URL: http://idnes.cz)