Babil Police Force Faces Uncertain Future After Chief’s Murder

The USG Open Source center does a report on the security situation in Babil Province, just south of Baghdad.

‘OSC Report: Iraq — Babil Police Force Faces Uncertain Future After Chief’s Murder . . .
Iraq — OSC Report
Friday, December 21, 2007

Iraq –Government Handling of Security in Babil Raises Questions About Independence of Police, Parties’ Influence Measures taken by the central government in the wake of the 9 December assassination of Qays al Ma’muri, the popular police commander of the southern governorate of Babil (Al-Hillah), suggest that Baghdad is moving to ensure that Al-Mamuri’s successor has less independence than he enjoyed. There had been reports prior to Al-Ma’muri’s death that Baghdad was seeking to remove him from office, and officials from the Al-Sadr Trend have hinted that the leading Shiite parties played a role in his assassination.

In the wake of the Al-Ma’muri assassination, the central government appears to be taking steps to enhance the role of the army in Babil at the expense of the local police force, which under Al-Ma’muri reportedly had enjoyed considerable independence.

A “high-level source” in the interior ministry reported that the prime minister had ordered that Babil’s “security leadership” be unified under a single command (Al-Sabah, 11 December).
Brigadier General Abd al-Amir al-Shammari, Babil chief of operations, reported that the army had acquired a “prominent role” in Babil’s security, contrasting this with the central position that the police had occupied during Al-Ma’muri’s tenure (Iraqi Press Agency, 13 December).

Officials from the Al-Sadr Trend — which has taken the lead in praising the late police commander for his professionalism and impartiality — and elsewhere have raised concerns about the role of the leading parties in the assassination and the impact of the government’s plans for replacing Al-Ma’muri. Crowds turned out in AlHillah, Karbala’, and Al-Najaf to pay their respects to Al-Ma’muri’s remains as they made their way to interment (Buratha News, 10 December).

Babil MP Ahmad al-Mas’udi, who represents the Al-Sadr Trend, urged the Interior Ministry to choose a “professional, independent person” to avoid “ruining all that the Babil police leadership built while Qays al-Ma’muri headed it” by appointing party-affiliated commanders like those in Karbala’ and Al-Diwaniyah (www.al3marh.net, 12 December).

Ghalib al-Da’mi, a Sadrist assemblyman from Karbala’, speculated that Al-Ma’muri had uncovered crimes that “might cause great embarrassment to officials in the Al-Maliki government” when Babil police discovered a gang allegedly affiliated with the Prime Minister’s Islamic Da’wah Party (IDP) that was responsible for killing “many innocent people, Sunni and Shiite, opposed to the Iranian program” (Al-Hayah, 14 December).

A local politician promoting the arming of tribal groups in support of the government tied the assassination to al-Ma’muri’s decision to close local offices of the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council, the IDP, and the Badr Organization on the grounds they were storing “explosives and heavy weapons” (Nahrain, 10 December).

At the time of Al-Ma’muri’s assassination Baghdad had reportedly been seeking to remove him from office.

“I cannot point the fingers of suspicion at any faction,” Sadrist MP Al-Mas’udi said of the assassination. “However, I can state that, according to my information, there was an administrative order issued, perhaps by the cabinet, to remove Major General Al-Ma’muri or relieve him of his post” (www.al3marh.net, 12 December).

An internet report cited “informed sources” as saying that Al-Maliki had recently acceded to demands from “some parties and trends” and ordered the transfer of the police commander to Baghdad “without the knowledge of the Interior Ministry.” The order was reportedly rescinded after local officials, police, and tribes objected that the transfer served only the interests of “certain (political) parties wishing to control the police” (Iraqi Press Agency, 9 December). ‘

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