Thursday, January 08, 2015

The Iraqi government still supplies killer gangs with weapons

Josh Rogin and Eli Lake (Bloomberg News) report:

U.S. weapons intended for Iraq’s beleaguered military are winding up in the possession of the country’s Shiite militias, according to U.S. lawmakers and senior officials in the Barack Obama administration. These sources say that the Baghdad government, which was granted $1.2 billion in training and equipment aid in the omnibus spending bill passed last month,  is turning hardware over to Shiite militias that are heavily influenced by Iran and have been guilty of gross human-rights violations. 

An unnamed "senior administration official" frets over the dilemma.

It's not a dilemma.

It's a violation of the Leahy Amendment.

Per US law, no more weapons can be handed over.  These weapons are being used against Iraqi civilians -- primarily Sunnis.  This violation is supposed to mean arming Iraq comes to a halt.

The reporters note:

 “I am concerned by reports that U.S. weapons have ended up in the hands of Shi’a militia forces -- all the more so, given their history of committing atrocities with impunity,” Senator Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Senate state and foreign operations subcommittee told us in a statement. Leahy is the author of the law that requires the U.S. government to cut off training and assistance to military units credibly accused of human-rights violations.

The so-called Leahy law applies only to military forces of a foreign government, not non-state actors. But in Leahy’s view, the prohibition should extend to the Shiite militias in Iraq because they are at least partly funded and under the supervision of the Baghdad government. Last year, the Obama administration determined that the Leahy law legally did not apply to the Iraqi tribal militias or Free Syrian Army. Nonetheless, the administration also determined that, as a matter of policy, it would vet these units for human-rights abusers as if they were foreign militaries.

They actually are foreign military -- check the work of Tim Arango and you'll see they were put on the payroll and armed by Nouri al-Maliki sometime ago.

The law's being broken.  Congress needs to hold hearings on the issue.

And Haider al-Abadi, 'new' prime minister of Iraq needs to be encouraged to get to work on the political solution -- one he promised to deliver as a condition to being named prime minister -- before things get even worse.

In Iraq today much of the focus is on Samarra.

Both Iraqi Spring MC and BBC News count five bombings.  Yang Yi (Xinhua) reports:

Islamic State (IS) militants launched a major attack on Samarra, a city of Iraq's northern central province of Salahudin, a provincial security source said.
The attack occurred at dawn when five suicide bombers blew up their explosive-laden trucks near the security checkpoints on a highway and at the western entrance of Samarra, some 120km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

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