Sadrists Reject Abandoning De-Baathification;
US Walls off Adhamiya
One of the four benchmarks that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates pressed on Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on his recent trip to Baghdad was the end of “de-Baathification” or the exclusion of former Baathists from government jobs and high positions. Most of those disadvantaged by this process have been powerful Sunni Arabs, and it has fed the guerrilla movement. Muqtada al-Sadr’s movement on Friday rejected any alteration in the laws and procedures of de-Baathification, according to MP Falah Hasan Shinshal. He is a member of the Iraqi parliament’s de-Baathification Committee, and said that any change in the law on this issue would be unconstitutional, since Iraq’s charter forbids former Baathists from holding high officer or entering into politics. Those who support the end of de-Baathification argue that it would allow thousands of ex-Baathists to regain their government jobs and enter public life, while those Baathists actually indicted for committing crimes would be tried. The fundamentalist Shiites and the Kurds will have difficulty making the changes that Gates demanded.
Meanwhile, Muqtada al-Sadr’s party reinstated two members of parliament who had earlier been reported to have been expelled from the party for meeting with American officials. This move suggests that Muqtada has ambitions for his bloc in parliament, and wants it at full strength. Thus, all is forgiven.
The US military is building a wall around the Adhamiya neighborhood, a Sunni Arab Baath stronghold that is surrounded on 3 sides by Shiite districts. I can remember when they built a berm around Tal Afar, as if that was supposed to resolve the problems there. No such luck. See below.
The northern Turkmen city of Tal Afar was put under curfew after Sunni Arab guerrillas called on other Sunnis to leave the city because they were going to attack it with chemical weapons. Last month guerrillas killed 152 persons with a truck bomb, the single deadliest attack in the past 4 years.
The convoy of Ammar al-Hakim, the son of Shiite leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, was ambushed on Friday as it moved between Najaf and Baghdad. His guards were wounded but Ammar was unharmed.
Sawt al-Iraq writing in Arabic reported a large demonstration after Friday prayers in Baghdad by supporters of the Islamic Virtue Party (Fadhila) in Basra. This was a counter-demonstration to the rally held last Monday in Basra that demanded the resignation of the (Virtue Party) governor.
Nancy Youssef of McClatchy reports that the US military is no longer investing a lot in training or retraining Iraqi troops. They want to see the existing Iraqi troops demonstrate competence and fighting spirit instead.
Iraqi physician who estimated a high death toll in his country is denied a visa. Hmmm.