Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that the Sadr movement is complaining bitterly about the ongoing detention of its leaders. A spokesman for the Sadr office of Muqtada al-Sadr in Diwaniya threatened a campaign of civil disobedience if the arrests do not stop and if those arrested are not let go. Someone should tell Sheikh Abu Zaynab, the Diwaniya spokesman, that after everything Iraq has been through, the threat of mere civil disobedience is perhaps not very daunting.
Paul Bremer, the former US viceroy of Iraq, shot back Tuesday when Bush alleged that he had not known that he intended to disband the Iraqi army. Bremer shared a letter he sent to then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announcing his intention to disband the army, along with Bush’s reply praising his leadership. Bush’s reply, however, does not prove that he read Bremer’s letter, only that Rumsfeld passed it on to him. You have a sense that Bush gets a lot of memos he doesn’t read, in response to which he pats people on the head and names them Turtle Poo. The real question, on which Bremer has never come clean, is who ordered him to disband the Iraqi army. It wasn’t Bush. Was it Cheney? I guess they don’t bother to tell George everything.
The LAT reports on the reconvening of the Iraqi parliament with only 151 MPs in attendance. They don’t appear ready to do any real business. Some Sadrists called for an investigation of the attack they alleged was launched on the Mahdi Army at Karbala last week. (In all likelihood, it was the other way around). They said Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki himself should be investigated.
The LAT says that leader of the Islamic Call (Da’wa) Party – Iraq Organization, Abdul Karim al-`Anizi– an ally of al-Maliki’s Islamic Call Party– expressed his disgust at Bush’s visit to an army base on Monday, by-passing the politicians in Baghdad:
‘ I want to mention my reservation and abhorrence as the meeting was held in an American base in a country having sovereignty . . .”
The Islamic Call Party – Iraq Organization stayed in Iraq during the Saddam years, unlike the Tehran, London and Damascus branches, which have generally dominated politics on their return after 2003.
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Sattar Abu Rishah, the chairman of the Council for the Salvation of al-Anbar, said that Bush promised to release innocent Sunni Arab detainees and to provide compensation for damages caused by military operations. He called Abu Rishah a “hero” and urged him to spread the tribal council model to other provinces (i.e. to fight Sunni radicals with tribal militias).
Al-Hayat says that the US military is arming tribal militias in the ‘triangle of death’ south of Baghdad, with the cooperation of Sunni guerrilla groups such as the Army of Islam, the 1920 Revolution Brigades, and the Army of Holy Warriors (i.e. the very guerrilla groups that had earlier fought the US and Iraqi troops).
The al-Maliki government takes a dim view of the new US policy of promoting Sunni Arab militias, for fear that eventually they will turn on the Baghdad government. Among Abu Rishah’s demands, which Bush said he would study, were complaints about Shiite militias and about Iranian interference in Iraq. Al-Maliki depends on both things.
David Walker of the Government Accountability Office is a clear-sighted and brave man. His congressional testimony, that Iraqi security forces are unlikely to be able to hold the neighborhoods being cleared of guerrillas by US troops, has drawn howls of outrage from US officers in Iraq. The GAO sees little progress toward the accomplishment of Congressional benchmarks, including ridding government security forces of militiamen.
Among GAO findings was that the troop escalation the Bushies call ‘the surge’ has not cut down on Iraqi civilian deaths this year.