Controversies about New Security Agency in Iraq
In the 1980s, Saddam employed tens of thousands of persons in the Ministry of the Interior (analogous to the US FBI) and related organs, for the purpose of domestic spying on Iraqis. Some have asserted that the number of snitches was greater than the number of all the blue collar workers in all the modern industries in Iraq. Spying was Iraq’s number one industry.
The Iraqi public is therefore understandably anxious about all this talk of the creation of a new domestic spying agency, analogous to the UK’s MI-5. There is also much skittishness about the creation of a a new security organ, the personnel of which will be drawn from existing party militias. Iyad al-Samarra’i, the secretary general of the Iraqi Islamic Party, calls this plan a “recipe for Lebanonizing Iraq.” Although the new force of about 850 men, which will concentrate on anti-terrorist activities, will have mixed squads, it will draw for personnel on the Kurdish militias, that of the Iraqi National Accord and the Iraqi National Congress, and on the Badr Corps of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
Why do it this way? If you needed about 1000 men to fight terrorism, why not just train some to do it? This move is clearly intended to give permanent military power to the expatriate parties, many of which (except for the Kurds and SCIRI) have limited local support and will have difficulty winning elections. But Iyad Alawi (an ex-Baathist who leads a party of ex-Baathist officers) and Ahmad Chalabi will have key men in the new unit, who could easily engage in sabotage if their political ambitions are thwarted. That is, this new anti-terrorism unit may well end up holding Iraq hostage to the interests of a few expatriate allies of the US Pentagon.
Shiite cleric Shaikh Muhammad Mahdi al-Khalisi, leader of the Islamic Movement in Iraq, told az-Zaman that bringing such militias together in a new unit was dangerous because militiamen inevitably have a sectarian point of view and sectional allegiances, whereas an Iraqi military must have the interests of the whole of Iraq at heart.
A move is afoot to create a new unit to engage in domestic spying and surveillance, as well. It is no doubt being backed by Iyad Alawi, the old Baathist operator, who got his man appointed to the Ministry of the Interior and who is intent on bringing back the secret police.