The incident, which killed one suspected member of the paramilitary group and wounded two, is the latest sign of the the fraying allegiance between the paramilitary groups and the U.S. military.
The above is breaking news this morning reported by Ernesto Londono in "U.S. Aircraft Targets Sons of Iraq Members" (Washington Post). It breaks at a very bad time, leading into the weekend after a weekend that saw fighting in Baghdad which pitted the "Awakening" Council in Fadhil on one side and the Iraqi and US forces on the other. "Sons of Iraq" and Sahwa are other names for the "Awakenings." The attack also again raises the point then-Senator Joe Biden made in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing he chaired on April 10, 2008, noting that the proposed Status Of Forces Agreement the then-administration was attempting to make with al-Maliki would require the US "to take sides in Iraq's civil war," then-Committee Chair Joe Biden noted, and "there is no Iraqi government that we know of that will be in place a year from now -- half the government has walked out. . . . Just understand my frustration. We want to normalize a government that really doesn't exist."
Last weekend's violence was kicked off by the arrest of Adel Mashhadani and the slowly revealed of arrest of Raad Ali. Though Mashhadani remains imprisoned, Raad Ali has just been released. Ned Parker and Saif Hameed (Los Angeles Times) report:
Raad Ali, head of the Sons of Iraq fighters in part of Baghdad's Ghazaliya district, returned home after a judge dismissed murder charges against him Wednesday. His release came after the arrest of at least two other Sons of Iraq leaders in Baghdad and the jailing of a few dozen other Sunni Arabs associated with the movement.
"They've accused me many times. I went to the court and they listened to me and said I am clean," Ali said. "If anyone wants to talk about me, every time they have a charge against me, I have shown that I am clean."
The dismissal ended a 10-day ordeal that saw Ali swallowed up into the country's security apparatus. It remains unclear who jailed him. The paramilitary leader said he was detained by the Baghdad operations command, which in turn blamed the Iraqi special forces. Both entities report to the prime minister's office.
Ali said that even the U.S. military couldn't track him during his incarceration at a base in east Baghdad. "I expected the Americans would help me, but they didn't know where I was held," he said. "This place was very secret."
The US military being unable to track an "Awakening" held by Shi'ite forces is troubling to Sahwa because, as Leila Fadel explained to the Real News Network, they have been targeted when imprisoned and tortured and it's thought that recently only the US stepping in and saying "don't torture" has protected recently arrested Sahwa members. Fadel reports on Ali's release in "Iraqi government releases Sunni paramilitary leader" (McClatchy Newspapers):
The turmoil is fueling fears that rising tensions between Sunnis and Shiites and between Sunni Arabs and Kurds could trigger a new round of violence and even disrupt the Obama administration's plans to draw down American forces in Iraq.
Ali, the head of the Sons of Iraq in the Ghazaliyah neighborhood in northwest Baghdad, returned home to a rain of celebratory shooting by neighbors and supporters. He told McClatchy that he'd been charged with seven crimes, including kidnapping a man who'd already accused someone else of the crime, planting roadside bombs, displacing Shiite families and killing two police officers, one of whom had been his own follower.
He said that all of the charges were bogus. He was treated well while in prison and was able to plead his case before a judge Wednesday, he said.
"I know what is truth and what is a lie," Ali quoted the judge as telling him. "You are innocent. I need you to return to your area and protect the people again."
Ali speaks to Fadel of what he sees as the Shi'ite dominated government's intention to target Sahwa leaders and break up the movement -- a belief that seems even more plausible after events of the last months. Fadel notes Tuesday saw al-Maliki's forces arrest approximately 50 Sahwa members in Baghdad. Fadel notes Nouri al-Maliki's refusal to absorb the Sahwa and how that has only fueled rumors (and beliefs) further. As Barbara Boxer pointed out in an April Senate hearing, Nouri has no intention to absorb the Sahwa. Their fears are far from unfounded.
Anisa Mehdi's "The Mayors of Iraq and Newark" (New Jersey Star-Ledger) notes a diplomatic mission to the US:
The mayors dressed as mayors do. Newark's Cory Booker and the chief executives of two Iraqi cities were all in suits and ties. Mayor Booker looked directly at the Iraqi men and spoke of cutting violence in his city. They listened through a translator. "We built coalitions," he said. "We had clergy riding patrols with the police. We improved our parks. And so far we've reduced violence in Newark by 40%. "
David Solnit, author with Aimee Allison (Allison co-hosts KPFA's The Morning Show with Philip Maldari), notes this event by Courage to Resist, Bay Area Iraq Veterans Against the War & Unconventional Action in the Bay:
Friend and filmmaker Rick Rowley comes to town with three films just shot on the ground in Iraq-- in typical high energy in-your-face style. Rick is joined by local IVAW organizer Carl "Davey" Davison and cutting-edge movement analyst Antonia Juhasz to do some collective thinking-discussing about how we can take on Obama to make the world a better place. Hope you can join us!
Please Invite your friends:
Bay Area Premiere
from the makers of "Fourth World War" & "This is What Democracy Looks Like"
A Big Noise Film
followed by a Public Discussion:
How Do We End Occupation & Empire Under Obama?
Carl Davison, organizer with Iraq Veterans Against the War, served in the Marines and the Army, and refused deployment to Iraq.
Antonia Juhasz, analyst, activist, author of Tyrany of Oil; The World's Most Powerful Industry--and What We Must Do to Stop It
Rick Rowley, Big Noise film maker recently returned for Iraq.
Friday April 3, 7pm
992 Valencia Street (at 21st), SF
Everyone welcome, $6 donation requested, not required.
Obama's Iraq is an evening of short films never before seen in America. Shot on the other side of the blast shields in Iraq's walled cities, it covers a very different side of the war than is ever seen on American screens. It reports unembedded from war-torn Falluja, from the giant US prison at Umm Qasr, from the Mehdi Army stronghold inside Sadr City -- from the places where mainstream corporate channels can not or will not go. Obama's Iraq asks the questions -- what is occupation under Obama, and how can we end the war in Iraq and the empire behind it? After the film, a public discussion will begin to answer that question. Join us.
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