2 GIs, 1 British Soldier Killed
113 Bodies Found
Debaathification Targets Interior
10 American and British troops were killed or announced dead in Iraq over the weekend, an unusually high number over three days.
There is an enormous discrepancy between the casualty figures reported by al-Zaman [The Times of Baghdad] (Ar.) and those of
the Western wire services. The Iraqi newspaper reports that Iraqi security forces found 113 bodies in the streets on Monday, including 50 in Baghdad, 50 in Kut, and 31 elsewhere. I believe that al-Zaman’s numbers are the right ones, and that the Western press has
been vastly under-reporting deaths in Iraq, perhaps by a factor of 1 to 4. There were no casualty figures on Monday from hot spots such as Ramadi or Baquba, or from Basra in the South (except the British soldier), but it is a fairly sure bet that people died in those areas. In a gruesome turn of events, a fisherman’s net in the Tigris caught the corpse of a woman on Monday.
The High Commission on Debaathification and the relevant committees in parliament charged on Monday that Minister of the Interior Jawad al-Bulani is “Baathifiying” the ministry, appointing high-level employees with a Baath Party background and refusing to dismiss them even though the High Commission had identified them as such. They charged that he has reinstated two dozen ex-Baathist government servants who had earlier been purged, and that he has put Baathists into the administration of Kut in the Shiite south. They believe an attempt is being made to re-introduce Baathist thought into the Iraqi government.
Bulani was brought in by the national unity government of PM Nuri al-Maliki to purge the ministry of rogue Badr Corps radical Shiite militiamen, who had infiltrated it. It seems logical enough that he would turn instead to secular bureaucrats, and you can’t find any of those in Iraq who don’t have a Baath Party background.
One of the problems in Iraq is that there are few “moderates” or neutral big political forces. Most important Shiite politicians belong to parties like the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq or the Sadr Movement. Most Sunni Arab politicians are neo-Baathists or Salafi revivalists. The Shiite parties are not acceptable to the Sunnis, the Sunni parties are not acceptable to the Shiites. The Debaathification commission has since April 2003 essentially functioned as an arm of the Shiite politicians and has been responsible for alienating the Sunni Arabs so radically and pushing them into waging a guerrilla war against the new order.
Reuters reports on another mass kidnapping by guerrillas of civilians, this time from internet cafes:
‘ The appearance of gunmen in camouflage uniform and driving what looked like government-issue off-road vehicles outside a row of computer stores near Baghdad’s Technology University on Monday did nothing to dispel fears the U.S.-trained security forces remain deeply infiltrated by criminals and militiamen.
They seized 14 people, mostly shopworkers, and drove off in seven trucks without licence plates, witnesses and police said.’
The same report says that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki unveiled another new peace initiative, this one involving mixed-ethnicity neighborhood committees. The proof will be in the pudding.
Nearly 80 persons were killed in political violence in Iraq on Monday according to Reuters. They include 2 US GIs and a British soldier in Basra. This early filing gives 13 as the number of bodies that appeared in the streets of Baghdad, but a later report puts the number at 30. (As we saw above, al-Zaman said that the totals were higher, and were matched by those in Kut). In addition, the Iraqi Accord front claimed that 26 corpses had been found that belonged to persons who had been kidnapped from a meat packing plant on Sunday (Sunni). Iraqi police said 4 had escaped and the fate of some others was unknown. However it turns out, a lot of people died in Iraqi civil war violence on Monday.