Thursday, December 18, 2008

al-Maliki's latest power grab?

In Iraq, puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki has ordered multiple arrests within the Ministry of the Interior. Sudarsan Raghavan and Qais Mizher's "Iraqi Security Officials Detained" (Washington Post) points out:

It was unclear precisely why the officials were arrested. Some said it was because they were involved in corruption involving the issuing of fake documents and car license plates. Others described a more diabolical plot to resurrect al-Awda, or the Return, a party composed of Hussein's loyalists that has been banned by the government. "It's a political group to resist against the government," said an Interior Ministry officer.
Also unknown was whether the officials were trying to plot the overthrow of Maliki, who has been trying to cement his power in recent months, raising tensions with various political parties. At least six additional officials were being sought for arrest, the officials said.

al-Maliki was never concerned about corruption within the Interior Ministry or with the attacks on civilians from that Ministry so his sudden desire to 'clean up' the ministry is puzzling. AP explains, "The 25 people include a brigadier general but are mostly low-level ministry employees who were taken into custody over the last three days, said the official, who has access to the investigative file. [. . .] Those arrested are accused of trying to recruit people to restore the party, the official said. The investigation is continuing and more arrests are possible, he said."

Oliver August's "Iraqi officials arrested in anti-Saddam party swoop" (Times of London) adds:

Contrary to media reports that an elite military unit controlled by the Prime Minister made the arrests, the ministry spokesman said, "The officers were connected to the Baath Party [once run by Saddam Hussein] and they were arrested by our forces inside the ministry."

Campbell Robertson and Tareq Maher (New York Times) broke the story and the most pertinent passage from their reporting follows:

Rumors of coups, conspiracies and new alliances abound in the Iraqi capital a month before provincial elections. Critics of Mr. Maliki say he has been using arrests to consolidate power.
But senior security officials said there was significant evidence tying those arrested to a wide array of political corruption charges, including affiliation with Al Awda, or the Return, a descendant of the Baath Party, which ruled the country as a dictatorship for 35 years, mostly under Mr. Hussein. Tens of thousands of Iraqis died or were persecuted, including Mr. Maliki, a Shiite Muslim, by the Baath Party. It was outlawed after the American invasion in 2003.

[C.I. note, 12-19-08: "Tariq" corrected to Tareq in the NYT credit before the excerpt.]

And in just that brief passage above, you see why we don't open with the Times' report. "It was outlawed after the American invasion in 2003"? What is universally seen as one of the most appalling decisions of the illegal war is rendered that way? Strange considering the paper's efforts to hang 100% of the blame for that around Paul Bremer's neck while letting chatty Collie Powell attack as an undisclosed source. Bremer proposed it, the White House signed off on it. And today the reporters referring to it should be making it clear that this was not an Iraqi decision.

Equally amazing is how much credence the Times gives to the claim of the paranoid al-Maliki. They've not always done that but on this story they rush to back him up. He's offered conspiracy talk before and the paper of record has generally avoided even noting it. But when mass arrests take place in the government, they spend the bulk of the article taking it on faith that al-Maliki's motives are pure? Someone cue up Elvis Costello on the Karaoke machine so Robertson and Maher can sing, "al-Maliki, I know this world is killing you, Oh, al-Maliki, my aim is true."

Raheem Salman and and Ned Parker's "Iraq detains police officials, including Interior Ministry generals" (Los Angeles Times) points out:

Western officials have described Maliki, a religious Shiite, as deeply suspicious of a coup by Iraqi security officers, many of whom are secular and nostalgic for the old Iraqi army. The prime minister has long sought to consolidate his power and control of the army and police. All security forces now report back to his office.

It is much more likely that the arrests were part of a continued power-grab on al-Maliki's part.

FYI, we're not highlighting Hillary Hatred. I don't care who writes it. In this case a visitor wants someone I know very well to be highlighted. Not happening. But you might want to ask him why he thinks it's appropriate that, "American citizen" that he is, he can also vote in France's elections if he chooses? We need a law that states clearly that whether you have dual citizenship or not, you are only allowed to vote in one country's elections. It's not fair to France -- or Ireland in the case of the bad actress we mentioned the last time we brought up this issue (though "actress" might be going a little far) -- or to the United States that some people are voting in two nation's elections. It should have been outlawed a long time ago and not in a "I'll decide this go-round what I'll do." No, you'll make a declaration in writing and be held to it for ever more. There's nothing in the Constitution that indicates the founders would have been supportive of dual citizenship and they certainly wouldn't have approved of "I vote in the US when I feel like it, I vote in France when I don't."

The e-mail address for this site is

the new york times

 ned parker
the los angeles times