Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Chief of Baghdad

Mohammed at Iraq the Model describes harsh conditions in Baghdad, Maliki's missions to surrounding countries sponsoring factions, internal negotiations with insurgents and the emergence of Sadrists as an Iraqi version of Hamas with "one foot in the cabinet and the other in the insurgents' trench". First, he talks about the war-weariness of the capital.

Even the parliament failed to convene this week because less than 50 MPs showed up. One can also easily notice that traffic on the streets is not as heavy as it used to be and people are getting less interested in talking politics. Well, the harsh conditions and lack of activity could also be seen from the declining number of updates coming from the Iraqi bloggers in general! Living for many of us was reduced to existence long time ago; dreams and desires are shrinking under the heavy shadows of the situation. The government too looks exhausted trying to face all these crises under pressure from a community that is demanding quick solutions and unwilling to listen to the government's excuses.

Next, he describes how Maliki has cross-posted ethnic negotiators to their unnatural opposite numbers to get these countries off Iraq's back. These steps are some indication of the external complexity of the situation in Iraq.

The heads of the authorities have been busy touring the neighboring countries looking for support, the interesting thing about these visits is that the Sunni delegate (speaker of parliament) was sent to Shia Iran, the Shia PM went to the Sunni gulf countries and the Kurdish foreign minister of Iraq went to talk to the Turks! I like this distribution of roles, at least this way we can rest assured that the delegates will be negotiating for Iraq not against it!!

Foreign policy dealt with, Mohammed turns to the internal situation, which is no less complex. Maliki is trying to set up a comprehensive surrender or ceasefire among (Sunni?) insurgent groups, but the biggest faction is holding out.

Inside Baghdad, statements keep coming about the number of militant groups expressing interest in al-Maliki's reconciliation project and maybe the announcement of the National Dialogue minister Akram al-Hakeem when he said that the number was approaching 20 supports the idea that insurgents still want to make use of this amnesty opportunity. But then the minister adds that "all of these groups but one are of little significance on the ground and the only significant group preferred its name to be kept a secret for the time being…".

Moving to the other side of the aisle, Sadr is trying to set his organization up as the Iraqi version of Hamas by creating an independently powerful base which can veto anything the regularly constituted government decides upon.

... there are rumors here that the SCIRI and Sadrists are determined to bring down al-Maliki. The Sadrists in particular are deliberately embarrassing the government in this regard by behaving like government and rebels at the same time and I think I find them pretty close to Hamas who's also lost their way between being government and remaining as "resistance".

In related news, yesterday Sadr announced the shutting down all his offices in Iraq and said this was to protest the government's slow work in rebuilding the golden dome of Samarra, meanwhile there are other news talking about rifts among the ranks of the Sadr militia itself and I suspect inclusion of the names of two "renegades" from the Sadr trend in the most wanted list lately announced by the government supports this news ... I see we're facing an Iraqi version of Hamas here; one foot in the cabinet and the other in the insurgents' trench  ...

We are introduced to a new and possibly competent Shi'ite commander who can complement the inept Sadr's religious appeal.

But the news circulating in Baghdad doesn't speak only of those two but is also focuses around a new rising name in the world of militias; that's Abu Diri'. Abu Diri' (whose first name is believed to be Salim) is a member of the Mehdi Army and gained the nickname which means 'the armor bearer' after he murdered an MNF soldier and seized his body armor during one the Sadrists battles against the MNF. Ever since that day he wears the body armor and never puts it away. People say this man commands hundreds (or thousands in some accounts) of "former" Mehdi army soldiers. The story of Abu Diri' describes him as the killer of Sunnis and suggests that his role is confined to doing a 'Shia body count' after each terror attack on Shia areas and then kidnapping and murdering an equal number of Sunnis.

In summary Mohammed concludes:

The situation isn't nice at all and al-Maliki's cabinet is going to face a very rough summer.


Maliki's central difficulty is that all his tools are simultaneously his biggest problems. He must use the Sunnis (with whom he has difficulties) against the Shi'ite militias and vice versa to produce an outcome conducive to neither. He must extract the blood-sucking tentacles which have snaked in across borders everywhere from the dessicated corpus of Iraqi society -- with the help of other similarly voracious suckers. America was not the only one invading Iraq in the days before, during and after OIF. And Maliki must accomplish all this with only his own wits and the limited help of a gigantic infidel ally with real political limits.

From Maliki's point of view Iraq is a national problem with international complications. Looked at from the outside, however, Iraq can also be viewed as the particular expression of a regional and possibly global conflict. Going by Mohammed's account, Maliki is apparently facing his problems with a clearer strategic vision than the "international community", though perhaps that is more apparent than real.


Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

Politics is just war fought another way. The goal is that the factions gradually move their conflicts into the parliament. Ever faction wants to hang on to the military power as long as possible to use as a bargaining chip. Maliki has the toughest job on earth, I think.

7/06/2006 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

In wanting to put American GI's on trial in Iraq by Iraqi's, the thought occurs that Maliki is attempting to change the subject, to deflect attention. He's poofing up to face down the American "occupiers" to make himself seem more powerful both within Iraq and to his Arab neighbors. Interesting that Karzai in Afghanistan is doing exactly the same thing at the same time.

If Maliki offers amnesty to terrorists who are still shooting at American soldiers and then also wants to start trying our guys on trumped-up charges of rape or murder or whatever, the American people are going to rise up and demand that the whole kit and caboodle be yanked out NOW.

And then Mr. Maliki can find out just exactly how good of a leader he really is.

7/06/2006 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

Suicide bomber hits Iran pilgrims in Iraq, 12 dead

KUFA, Iraq, (Reuters) - A suicide car bomber blasted two coaches carrying Iranian pilgrims outside a Shi'ite Muslim shrine in Iraq at dawn on Thursday, killing 12 people and wounding 41, police and health officials said.

The attack came a day after the U.S. military warned that al Qaeda's new leader in Iraq could order new car bombings after the killing of his predecessor Abu Musab al-Zarqawi a month ago.

The bomber drove his car between the two Iranian coaches as they arrived at the Maithem al-Tamar shrine in Kufa, a religious centre on the outskirts of the main Shi'ite holy city of Najaf, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

The burnt-out wrecks of the vehicles lay in the street. Three women in distinctive Iranian dress lay dead. Smoke rose from the charred remains of the bomber's car.

very interesting.....

7/06/2006 10:41:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

Looks like Sadr is responsible for a lot of the violence in Baghdad.

Iraqi soldiers captured a militant leader and more than 30 insurgents were killed or wounded Friday in a gunbattle in eastern Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

The military said the gunfight erupted after Iraqi forces came under during a raid in the Shiite slum of Sadr City.

An insurgent leader was detained during the operation. The military said he headed "multiple insurgent cells in Baghdad" that had attacked Iraqi and coalition forces with roadside bombs and car bombs.

7/07/2006 02:59:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

Looks like they're rolling up Sadr. I wonder if the Sunni resistance is providing targeting information to the US.

In another operation, Iraqi troops backed by U.S. soldiers arrested a top regional commander of a Shiite militia near Hillah, a U.S. statement said. The moves appeared part of a crackdown on sectarian militias blamed for the escalation in Shiite-Sunni violence that has led to fears of civil war in recent months.

The U.S. military said the raid in Baghdad's Sadr City slum was launched to apprehend "an insurgent leader responsible for numerous deaths of Iraqi citizens." He was arrested after a gunbattle between Iraqi forces and insurgents, the U.S. said...

U.S. officials did not identify the insurgent leader but residents of the Shiite neighborhood said he was Abu Diraa, a commander in the Mahdi militia of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr...

In a statement Thursday, the U.S. said Iraqi and U.S. forces also arrested Adnan al-Unaybi, commander of a Mahdi militia force south of Baghdad. The statement said he was arrested north of Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad.

7/07/2006 03:41:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

Like the communists of my generation and the extreme left in USA currently, Sadr is a parasite and has been given far too much credibility. Maliki, if he wants to assert himself and quell the violence must make high-level arrests in both the Shiite and Sunni camps - including Sadr.

He needs to act quickly and decisively because US support is disintegrating.

7/07/2006 04:46:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

Sadr was useful to the US for a time, and his group respected a cease fire against US troops through the election. Without Shiite death squads, the Sunnis would never have had incentive to join the government, and would have just kept their death squads and "resistance" going since they were the only game in town. Sadr's Mahdi militia does a good job of keeping the peace in Shiite territory.

But now that he's attacking us and the government, it's time to knock Sadr down a couple of notches, and keep rolling him up until he ceases fire.

7/07/2006 05:00:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Grey said...

Actually, the central difficulty is that no "normal" person can be protected, if targeted by the killers. Thus, there is a HUGE incentive to avoid becoming a target -- like, by informing on where the killers are hiding out. Or disobeying any of them, or not following the "no pants on women".

Until the normal folk feel safe enough AFTER they turn in some bad guys, not enough bad guys will be turned in.

This is a "fighting the Mafia" kind of problem, too.

7/07/2006 05:24:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

Looks like the Shiites evened the score for the bombing mentioned above:

Bombs and a mortar round struck Sunni mosques in Baghdad and northeast of the capital Friday, killing at least nine people and wounding seven, authorities said.

The mortar round landed in front of the al-Nidaa Sunni mosque in northern Baghdad about 2 p.m., killing five people, including a policeman, and wounding two worshippers, the army said.

A car bomb also exploded about 10 minutes later as worshippers were leaving a Sunni mosque in western Baghdad, killing three people, a woman and two children, police Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razzaq said.

Northeast of Baghdad, a roadside bomb struck worshippers leaving the Ahmed bin Hanbal Sunni mosque in Baqouba, killing one person and wounding five others, according to police.

7/07/2006 05:34:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

Without the support of the citizens, the terrorists would soon be dead. Anyone can get shot in the back. Everyone is Iraq has access to automatic weapons. Some people can be terrorized and killed by the terrorists, but not everyone.

So the reality is that the Sunni locals support their militants, and the Sadr slum residents support their militia, regardless of what they say to US soldiers and media privately.

7/07/2006 05:40:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

Saddam's entire regime was a civil war, with the Sunnis tyrannizing the rest of Iraq. The Sunni murders and mutilations are the same now, but they're underground instead of being done by the government.

The big difference now is that the Shiites and Kurds can fight back. A stage of back and forth between Sunni & Shiite death squads was inevitable, because the Sunnis would never stop if they were unopposed and didn't pay a price. (The US & UK can't respond with civilian killing and torture in the same way al-Sadr can, an eye for an eye...).

Except for unconditional surrender, the only way a war ends is if all sides have fought to a standoff. So I see this as being progress. I don't think any Shiite or Kurd would go back to the days when Saddam was gassing them.

7/07/2006 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger skipsailing said...

The only thing known to man that is faster than Chuck Schumer's dash to a microphone is the left's alacraty in declaring "failure".

C4's egregious post in the face of a significant arrest in Baghdad is a prime example.

7/07/2006 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

trish: You're irght but....

'round these parts funding is termed a means of support.

Sorry the local vernacular threw you. ;o)

7/08/2006 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

sheesh;;;right? It just isn't that difficult.

Thanks C4 for reminding me why I abandoned the Democratic party all those years ago. Being around all those glass-half-empty types is just too depressing.

7/08/2006 06:40:00 PM  

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