Al-Maliki: Militias must Disarm; 25,000 Tribesmen Join Iraqi Army in Basra; Seek to Fight Sadrist Tribes

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that the Iraqi National Security Council met on Saturday. The heads of the major blocks in parliament attended, including Nassar al-Rubaie, leader of the Sadr bloc.

Ali al-Adib of the Da`wa Party, which is part of the United Iraqi Alliance, said that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki “laid out the technical capabilities of the lawless gangs that have taken on government forces with modern, advanced weaponry, also explaining the origins of these weapons.” He complained that the militias dominated some government institutions, such that they are equal to the government, a matter of some concern.

Aljazeera showed al-Maliki and president Jalal Talabani urging all the major parties to pledge to disarm their militias. This plea will fall on deaf ears, in part because it is so hypocritical. Al-Maliki increasingly depends on the Badr Corps militia of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, and Talabani’s power comes in large part from the Kurdish Peshmerga militia, which he got recognized in the constitution as Kurdistan’s national guard. So some militias are more equal than other militias.

The official spokesman of the Sadr bloc, Salih al-`Ukaili, told al-Hayat that al-Maliki’s statement was an attempt to throw dust in people’s eyes, since he had pledged to stop arresting militia commanders, but he had not in fact stopped. He complained that “American troops are still spreading fear among the people of Sadr City, where they have positioned large forces at the entrances to the district’s quarters, engaging in nighttime incursions and arresting hundreds of youth without warrants.”

Al-Hayat received a report from Basra on Saturday that the number of volunteers from among young men of tribal background rose to 25,000, most of them from the districts of Qurna, Medina, Huwayr, and al-Haritha.

The idea was apparently to establish tribal levies in Basra on the model of what has been done in al-Anbar province with the Sunni Arab guerrillas. The new additions from among the tribes have a grudge with those tribes in the south who have announced publicly their allegiance to Muqtada al-Sadr. (My impression is that the Marsh Arab tribes, most of them displaced from their traditional areas by Saddam and drought, have largely become Sadrists. So this feud may be between middle class, well-off tribes, and poor squatters.) How tribal feuds playing out within Iraqi government institutions is an advance, I’ll never know.

Reuters reports political violence in Iraq on Saturday:

‘ MOSUL – Three bodies were found with gunshot wounds in different districts of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

* MOSUL – Gunmen killed a man in a drive-by shooting just outside his house in eastern Mosul, police said.

* NEAR HILLA – Police killed one gunman and arrested two others when they tried to assassinate a local police chief in the town of Hamza al-Gharbi, south of the city of Hilla, police said. One policeman was wounded in the incident. Hilla is 100 km (60 miles) south of Baghdad.

ISKANDARIYA – Two bodies with gunshot wounds were found in Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – Gunmen killed police Brigadier-General Saadi Ruzuqi, spraying his car with bullets on the Mohammed al-Qasim highway in central Baghdad, police said.

DIYALA PROVINCE – Gunmen killed four off-duty oil pipeline guards in their car near Khanaqin, near the Iranian border, police said.

BAGHDAD – Gunmen killed Christian priest Adel Yousif in a drive-by shooting near his house in the Karrada district of central Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb hit a bus on Palestine Street in eastern Baghdad, killing three people and wounding 16 others, police said.

MAHMUDIYA – One policeman was killed by a sniper while on patrol on Friday in Mahmudiya, 30 km (20 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

KIRKUK – A roadside bomb near a police patrol wounded three policemen on Friday in central Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – Two bodies were found in different districts of Baghdad on Friday, police said.

NEAR HILLA – A body of an Interior Ministry special forces soldier was found with gunshot wounds on Friday near Hilla, police said.

NEAR SAMARRA – U.S. forces killed two suspected insurgents on Friday west of Samarra, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad during an operation targeting al Qaeda, the U.S. military said.’

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