Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Crackdown in Diyala and al-Jaafari tries comedy

Kitabat reports the central and south Iraq are plagued by dust storms today with predictions that they will continue tomorrow.

As obscured as the physical view is the political view with the crisis continuing.  Alsumaria reports that Nouri has ordered raids and arrests in Diyala Province.  Baquba is the capital and it borders Iran in the north.  It is predominately Sunni with a signficiant number of Shi'ites Kurds and Turkmen.  "Home to every major sect and ethnicity of Iraq," the Institute for the Study of War has noted.  The organization also noted:

Shia and Kurdish power blocs saw the organization of the Sunnis into legitimized security forces in Diyala as a threat to their strategic interests within a critical province. In response to the IIPs growing power, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki created the Diyala Support Council (DSC) in mid-2007 in an attempt to influence Diyala from Baghdad. Further, Maliki employed the ISF to reduce the strength of Sunni power bloc in Diyala by arresting hundreds of Sunni fighters and ejecting Popular Committee leaders from their offices. Lastly, in February of 2008, Prime Minister Maliki won the approval of the Government of Iraq to form Tribal Support Councils (TSC) throughout Iraq. The Diyala TSCs allowed Maliki to check growing Sunni influence within the province and play one Sunni group off another, effectively preventing the Sunnis from creating a single, consolidated political bloc.
With at least 13 arrested in Diyala today and security sources telling Alsumaria that 20 more have been arrested in Diyala already this month, chances are the arrests will be seen as part of Nouri al-Maliki's continued attack on Iraq's Sunni population.

The arrests come as Diyala official (and Iraqiya member) Nahida Daini is calling for the Baghdad government to keep their promise regarding the Sahwa (Awakenings, Sons Of Iraq, Daughters Of Iraq) and integrating them into the central government's forces.  She states that Sahwa's role in allowing Iraq to function was pivotal and that they must be brought into the process.  This was supposed to happen.  It never has.  (Despite Brett McGurk's lies to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month.)  General David Petreaus credited the Sahwa with helping to turn things around.  At the April 8, 2008 Senate Armed Services hearing when Gen David Petraeus, then the top US commander in Iraq, was explaining Sahwa.

In his opening remarks, Petraues explained of the "Awakening" Council (aka "Sons of Iraq," et al) that it was a good thing "there are now over 91,000 Sons of Iraq -- Shia as well as Sunni -- under contract to help Coalition and Iraqi Forces protect their neighborhoods and secure infrastructure and roads.  These volunteers have contributed significantly in various areas, and the savings in vehicles not lost because of reduced violence -- not to mention the priceless lives saved -- have far outweighed the cost of their monthly contracts."  Again, the US must fork over their lunch money, apparently, to avoid being beat up. 
How much lunch money is the US forking over?  Members of the "Awakening" Council are paid, by the US, a minimum of $300 a month (US dollars).  By Petraeus' figures that mean the US is paying $27,300,000 a month.  $27 million a month is going to the "Awakening" Councils who, Petraeus brags, have led to "savings in vehicles not lost".

Alsumaria notes there are 7,800 Sahwa in Diyala including 50 leaders.

Hassan Zaidi remains impisoned.  He's a journalist.  Nouri, of course, denied that any journalists are held in Iraqi prisons.  A communiy member in Anbar asked that we note this and notes there is little press coverage of it.  She states that the government keeps promising that Zaidi will be released shortly.  Again, Nouri al-Maliki flat out lied last Thursday when he denied any journalists were in Iraqi prisons.  Hassan is imprisoned for 'passport falsification.'  Yeah, it sounds like trumped up charges.

 Ibrahim al-Jaafari, meanwhile, turns himself into a laughingstock.  Dar Addustour reports that he's declaring all these grand accomplishments that the Reform Commission will be responsible for including the appointment of a Minister of Defense and a Minister of Interior.  Maybe that will happen, maybe it won't.  Probably not a good idea to be promising it will or to declare that the Reform Commission is a replacement to the no-confidence vote on Nouri.  al-Jaafari was never part of that movement and can't speak for it with any degree of accuracy.

Dar Addustour notes that Nouri's also insisting that the tourism sector must be revitalized in Iraq.  The biggest obstacle to that remains Nouri.  No one wants to travel to the land of Stalin, Pol Pot and Saddam.  But that's Nouri's image.

That Maliki has an authoritarian streak has been amply demonstrated over the past 4 1/2 years, critics say. Maliki, originally selected in 2006 as a compromise candidate assumed to be weak and malleable, has proved to be a tough and ruthless political operator who cannily subverted parliament to cement his authority over many of the new democracy's fledgling institutions.
In his role as commander in chief of the armed forces, he replaced divisional army commanders with his appointees, brought provincial command centers under his control and moved to dominate the intelligence agencies.
The widely feared Baghdad Brigade, which answers directly to Maliki's office, has frequently been used to move against his political opponents. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused him of operating secret prisons in which Sunni suspects have been tortured.

 If you're nodding with that and thinking, "At last someone's captured Nouri's likeness!," wait a minute.  That's Liz Sly's  "Maliki's governing style raises questions about future of Iraq's fragile democracy" from December 2010. 

Nouri was and remains the biggest obstacle to tourism, peace, success, freedom in Iraq.  That was and remains the case.

Kat's "Kat's Korner: Demos, live and what the fans want" went up earlier this morning.  I have one more (I'm doing three and not two like I planned) entry to write and Isaiah's latest comic will follow that.  And, at their sites, Mike and Marcia will be posting tonight.
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