Jaafari Iraqis Must Be In Control

Jaafari: Iraqis Must be in Control

Emergency Laws a Possibility

Interim Vice President of Iraq, Ibrahim Jaafari, said Friday that emergency laws might be implemented if the security situation demanded it. Jaafari is a leader of the extremely powerful but under-reported al-Dawa Party, a covert Shiite organization organized by cells. AP’s Tarek El-Tablawy is to be congratulated for getting an interview with him, because he could well emerge as prime minister in elections in January. Quotes:


‘ “Announcing emergency laws or martial law depends on the nature of the situation. In normal situations, there is clearly no need for that . . . But in cases of excess challenges, emergency laws have their place,” he said, adding that any such laws would fall within a ”democratic framework that respects the rights of Iraqis.” . . . Al-Jaafari expressed optimism that cooperation with multinational forces following the handover could mitigate the need for emergency laws. ”What we need is support for the security operations,” he said. But ”under sovereignty, the relevant Iraqi authorities are the ones who would consider such steps.” . . . Hardline Shiites, who had initially welcomed the toppling of Saddam’s government, are increasingly concerned that the new government will be little more than a lackey of the West . . . Al-Jaafari said the United States, and other countries who continue to maintain a military presence following the handover, must ”respect” Iraq’s sovereignty and limit themselves to support and advisory roles that avoid giving the impression of a reversion to the pre-handover occupational stage. ”Security is a paramount concern,” he said. ”But there must be a balance between achieving sovereignty, on the one hand, and (being aided) by non-Iraqi forces, to back up the security operation, on the other. . . There must be a clear understanding of this by any force that wants to join the Iraqi security forces (in aiding the country). We ask them to respect our sovereignty,” al-Jaafari said. ‘

It worries me that Jaafari is talking about imposition of emergency laws (i.e. something like martial law, but the US has high-handedly told the Iraqi government it can’t use that terminology.) The al-Da`wa, like most US allies in Iraq aside from the Kurds, does not actually have a history of commitment to democracy. Note also that he is underlining that there must be a perceived Iraqi control over the security situation– i.e., the US military can’t unilaterally go about the country staging operations without Allawi’s permission. I predict that there are going to be big clashes between the caretaker Iraqi government and CENTCOM over these issues in coming months.

Radio Sawa in Iraq is reporting that interim Minister of Defense, Hazem al-Shaalan, has drawn up an emergency plan to deal with the “disturbances” (i.e. bombings and guerrilla attacks) in Baghdad. He is looking into the possiblity of imposing a state of emergency there and in other parts of Iraq. (N.B.: governments most often implement extra security in the capital, because government officials are located there). He said that a state of emergency would be declared in any area where there was a sufficient security threat. He emphasized that the authorities had not taken any final decision, and that the state of emergency might cover a limited territory or small stretches of territory. He made the remarks at a joint press conference with Interior Minister Fallah al-Naqib. He said that the measures now being studied enter into the framework of Iraqi law and that any steps taken will involve coordination between the ministries of Justice, Interior and Defense.

I’d say the ongoing guerrilla insurgency in Iraq has made all those nice rights announced in the Transitional Administrative Law late last winter a dead letter. Allawi and his whole crew seem to envisage the caretaker government declaring an emergency, imposing curfews, curbing individual rights of movement, and basically using authoritarian means in hopes of addressing the insurgency. The worst case scenario is that the impose press censorship and deprive people of all kinds of new-found rights, but still fail to stop the ongoing violence.

Hannah Allam on government factions in post-June 30 Iraq and the difficulty the caretaker government of Iyad Allawi will have in dealing with them. Allam covers Sistani (who will play along with Allawi as long as there is clear movement toward elections), Muqtada al-Sadr (who remains a radical wild card), and the Kurds, who want Kirkuk and its oil but face vehement objections from the 2/3s of the city that is Turkmen and Arab.

For a good overview of the Iraqi Shiites, see Janine di Giovanni’s “Reaching for Power” in the National Geographic.

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