Parliament Approves Cabinet Interior

Parliament Approves Cabinet
Interior Ministry goes to Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq

Al-Jazirah is reporting, early Friday morning, several car bombs in the al-Azamiyah and Salikh neighborhoods of Iraq, which killed at least 10 and wounded dozens.

The new Iraqi government was approved by parliament on Thursday, by 180 of 185 MPs in attendance. About a third of parliamentarians did not show up for the vote. These probably included the 39 remaining members of Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya List, which was not awarded any cabinet posts. The Sunni Arabs weren’t happy, either, though they only have 17 seats anyway.

Ghazi al-Yawir, now a vice president, termed the cabinet “disappointing” and complained about its sectarian character. Tariq al-Hashimi of the Iraqi Islamic Party complained that the new cabinet did not represent Iraq and would not bring national reconciliation. (- Ash-Sharq al-Awsat). He said that none of the persons suggested for cabinet posts by the IIP had been chosen, and blasted the current cabinet line-up as “racist.”

It turns out that the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) did get the Interior Ministry (domestic intelligence) in the new government. The new minister is Bayan Sulagh, whose nom de guerre is Bayan Jabr [not Jubur as CNN gave it].

Jabr barely escaped being assassinated on Wednesday. Knight Ridder wrote,

“Another attack on an Iraqi lawmaker was foiled Wednesday, authorities said. Bayan Jabr, said to be al Jaafari’s top choice for interior minister, survived the attack on his home in the Shiite enclave of Kadhemiya. Jabr is a member of the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq – the dominant member of the Shiite alliance. A car tried to overrun the heavy security outside Jabr’s home after sunset Wednesday, but guards shot at the driver and stopped the attack, said Hadi al Ameri, the commander of the Badr Brigade. Jabr was unharmed and the suspect was detained and turned over to police, he added. “

Jabr is originally Turkmen. He headed the Syrian and Lebanese offices of SCIRI in exile and served as its Political and Arab Affairs chief. It is possibly significant that Interior went to a political operative of SCIRI rather than to the paramilitary Badr Corps, which had been angling for the ministry itself. The Badr Corps fighters were trained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

Jabr’s earlier activities can be seen in this Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty report from May, 2000:

‘ SCIRI TARGETS BAGHDAD PRESIDENTIAL PALACE. The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) fired as many as nine Katyusha rockets at a presidential palace in the Al-Karkh district of Baghdad, killing a number of officials, according to Al-Jazirah Satellite Television on 13 May . . . “Al-Jazira” on 13 May interviewed Bayan Jabr, a member of the Central Committee of SCIRI in Beirut. He confirmed that the attack was a SCIRI operation and that the group which had undertaken it operates from the Al-Ahwar region. He also stressed that, despite Iraqi claims, civilians were not targeted in the attack, but instead targeted the Republican Guard and Special Forces, which recently “destroyed the Salin village in southern Iraq, where they killed more than 120 Iraqi citizens over three days.” Bayan Jabr pointed out that the attack fell on the 20th anniversary “of the martyrdom of the nationalist and Islamic Iraqi figure Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr.” And he explained that the operation itself was part of operations carried out over the last three years targeting key regime figures, “starting with Udayy, Izzat Al-Duri, Muhammad Hamza Al-Zubaydi, and, finally, the presidential palace today.” ‘

Bayan Jabr is clearly an old-time revolutionary deeply committed to SCIRI’s paramilitary actions. I’d say there is likely to be some trepidation among Iraqi moderates about his now taking over Interior, which is a mixture of what in the US would be the FBI, Secret Service, and Homeland Security.

US troops searched Ramadi hospital Wednesday on hearing rumors that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been there.

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