Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Wolves In Attack Dog Clothing

Iraqis trapped between Sunni insurgents and rogue Shi'a "protectors"

There's a cable TV show called The Shield. It's about a corrupt police unit that fights crime while generating a murderous crime wave of its own. Sort of The Sopranos meets NYPD Blue. It seems to me that Iraqis could produce such a TV show of its own called, Liwaa al Deeb, "The Wolf Brigade". Actually they already have had that: a Cops-style TV show featuring the Wolf Brigade called Terrorism in the Grip of Justice.

Today, NPR did a report interviewing American US military adviser , Maj. Charles Miller, who worked with the Wolf Brigade. Miller details coerced confessions, selective targeting of Sunnis for crimes, and even a staged ambushed on Miller's unit:

"We rolled out to the site, with no clue of where it was," he recalls. "About 45 seconds after we stopped, me and two of my captains dismounted and an IED went off by the first truck. And then we started getting hit with mortars from across the river and machine guns and RPGs. The National Police dismounted their vehicles, took cover in ditch and never fired back."

"Whether we were set up or not, we don't know," Miller says. "That was the opinion that we got. Because we were being so rough on them — sticklers for details."

After the incident, Miller says, he had a long talk with the Iraqi battalion commander, who blamed "bad ammunition" for his forces not coming to the Americans' aid.

Reuters has done its own report on the interview.

Although, the Wolf brigade is now associated with Shi'a targeting of Sunnis, it seems to have been originally a mixed-sect organization whose primary connection was that they were drawn from officers in the Saddam regime army.*
*Those who lament the "disbanding" of the Iraqi army should take note.

Interestingly, the AP reported the following story from Tal Afar today:
Shiite militants and police enraged by massive truck bombings in the northwestern town of Tal Afar went on a revenge spree against Sunni residents there Wednesday, killing as many as 60 people, officials said.

Ali al-Talafari, a Sunni member of the local Turkomen Front Party, said the Iraqi army had arrested 18 policemen accused of being involved after they were identified by the Sunni families targeted. But he said the attackers included Shiite militiamen.

The following are every pertinent news story I could gleen about the Wolf Brigade from now to its formation. Note that there is a lacuna between March 2006 until February 2007. I suspect this is due to the fact that there was so much cross-sectarian killing during this period that that activities of a single police brigade simply did not show up in all the noise. However, ironically, this seems to be the period when the U.S. military began to seriously attempt to reform it.

2007, March 3 (Kansas City Star) 10am, Ghazaliya neighborhood NW Baghdad

In the early morning, unknown insurgents shot dead Lt. Col. Fadhil al Rheem,
a battalion commander for the Wolf Brigade.

2007, Feb 9 (USA Today) Iraqi official tied to militia jailed

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces stormed the Health Ministry and arrested the No. 2 official Thursday, accusing him of diverting millions of dollars to the biggest Shiite militia and allowing death squads use of ambulances and government hospitals to carry out kidnappings and killings.

Shiite politicians allied with anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr denounced the arrest of Deputy Health Minister Hakim al-Zamili as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and demanded that the prime minister intervene to win his release.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite who is under strong U.S. pressure to crack down on Shiite militias and has pledged not to interfere in the security operation to rid Baghdad's streets of gunmen from both Islamic sects, remained silent. But an adviser said nobody would be immune from the crackdown.

2007, Feb 7 (Stars & Stripes) Iraqi VP says police help prevent food, medicine from reaching Sunnis

Since November 2006, the Iraqi national police’s “Wolf Brigade” has helped militias block deliveries of medicine, food, fuel, and even commit murder, al-Hashemi says. He lists nine demands, including the “evacuation” of the national police, delivery of aid and a “protective force consisting of the inhabitants of the area.”

U.S. intelligence officials said they are worried the local Sunnis are prepared to form their own militia if they do not believe the Iraqi government — or U.S. forces — are working quickly enough to protect the people.

2006, March 6 (Amnesty International) Beyond Abu Ghraib: Detention and Torture in Iraq
After having been detained by a special police force of the Interior Ministry, the Wolf Brigade, a 46-year-old housewife from Mosul, Khalida Zakiya, was shown in February 2005 on the Iraqi TV channel al-‘Iraqiya alleging that she had supported an armed group. However, she later withdrew this confession and alleged that she had been coerced into making it. She was reportedly whipped with a cable by members of the Wolf Brigade and threatened with sexual abuse.

2005, Dec. 30th (NY Times) G.I.'s To Increase U.S. Supervision of Iraqi Police

"'The commandos sort of grew like Topsy [a character in the
novel 'Uncle Tom's Cabin']," he said, 'very quickly, without much control, and
without much training, but with lots of influences from the Ministry of the
Interior and SCIRI (Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq)-Badr
organisation'..'.this is
not specifically designed to
prevent them from abusing detainees, but that is certainly part of our goal'.

2005, Dec 13 (ABC News) Iraq's Wolf Brigade Said to Be Effective, at Times Brutal

Recruits cannot apply, they must be chosen by fellow members. Most are former Iraqi Special Forces.

"Show me where the enemies are," they chant. "Where are the terrorists?"

Gen. Rasheed Mohammed, the Wolf Brigade's commander, says his unit is effective and, at times, brutal.

"We don't have eavesdropping or electronic monitoring," he said. "And sometimes we have to be aggressive to come up with a confession from a detainee. Of course, you should not torture."

Mohammed calls it an Iraqi approach to Iraqi problems.

2005, Dec. 12 (MSNBC: Blogging Bagdad) WOLF BRIGADE
In a potentially provocative move, American and Iraqi commanders have dispatched Iraq’s most-notorious police commando unit, the Wolf Brigade, to Ramadi ahead of elections, Western officials told me.

The Wolf Brigade, known to be the one of the most aggressive (if not ruthless) in the Iraqi security forces, is deeply mistrusted by the people of Ramadi, who believe it to be virulently anti-Sunni and responsible for human rights abuses.

The move raised eyebrows among U.S. embassy officials, as politically insensitive during such a volatile time.

For the U.S. military’s perspective, however, the Wolf Brigade is effective and was instrumental in driving insurgents out of Mosul a year ago.

2005, Dec 12 (Documentary) Iraq - Wolf Brigade
Hopes for a stable withdrawal from Iraq rest on the success of Iraqi troops like the Wolf Brigade. We exclusively profile the brigade, which is already infamous for allegedly torturing prisoners.
2005, Nov. 18 (UPI) Wolf Brigade raid angers Iraq's Sunnis
On Sunday, a U.S. Army unit commandeered an interior ministry jail after finding nearly 170 prisoners being held, many with signs of malnourishment and physical abuse. The prisoners were nearly all Sunnis.
2005, Aug. 31 (RadioFreeEurope) The Growing Sunni-Shi'a Divide
Part of the problem stems from the Iraqi transitional government's failure to completely disprove allegations that government forces are behind a recent surge of attacks on Sunnis -- particularly in Baghdad, but also in areas north, south, and west of the capital. Sunni leaders opposed to the government use the attacks to fuel the notion that the government is supporting a campaign led by former Shi'ite militiamen from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq's (SCIRI) Badr Corps -- many of whom now work for the Interior Ministry's commando Wolf Brigade -- and other sanctioned security forces.
2005, July 20 ( Iraqi Wolf Brigade finds stolen artifacts
A battalion from the Iraqi Wolf Brigade conducted raids in the Ameriyah
District and Al Dora neighborhood early July 19. The Iraqi Soldiers captured a suspected dealer of stolen artifacts and one terrorist. They recovered three possible artifacts buried under a pile of palm fronds.

The detainee said he was acting as a middle man for a buyer and that the
artifacts were worth $25,000 each. The dealer believed the items to be 2,000 to 5,000 years old and they may have been stolen from a Baghdad museum.
2005, June 27 (Newsweek) Enemy Spies (Wolf Brigade hit by infiltrating human bomb)
No one challenged the bomber as he approached his target. Iraqi sentries waved him through the gate, into a high-security compound that protects some of the most vital government offices in Baghdad. His uniform and badge identified him as a member of the Wolf Brigade, the elite police unit he had joined three months before. His shirt looked strangely baggy—"billowy," an investigator would say later. It covered a vest packed with explosives. The bomber walked unhindered through the gate and past the Interior Ministry. He passed through another checkpoint at the entrance to Wolf Brigade headquarters, 15 minutes by foot from the compound's gate. In the courtyard, members of the brigade were assembling for their 8:30 a.m. roll call. The young recruit had been AWOL for weeks, but no one asked him where he had been. Then he detonated himself. The only identifiable trace that remained of the bomber was his severed head and feet, according to Iraq's Interior minister, Bayan Jabr.The explosion on June 11 killed three brigade members, wounded roughly a dozen others and worsened an already deep sense of gloom among U.S. military advisers in Iraq. The Wolf Brigade is supposed to be the cream of Iraq's counterinsurgency forces. The attack showed once again how vulnerable those forces remain.
2005, June 11 (BBC) Profile: Iraq's Wolf Brigade
"Detractors see it as a Shia Muslim-dominated force set on intimidating the Sunni minority...Speaking to Knight Ridder News, the commander made no secret of his own Shia affiliation but he said that many of the brigade's most senior officers were Sunni.

"Formally, the brigade is a special forces unit of the new interior ministry, led by former officers of Saddam Hussein's army, who were brought back into the new security forces because of their military experience."

2005, June 9 (NY Times) Iraq's Militia's Q&A

What is the Wolf Brigade?

The most feared and effective commando unit in Iraq, experts say. Formed last October by a former three-star Shiite general and SCIRI member who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Walid, the Wolf Brigade is composed of roughly 2,000 fighters, mostly young, poor Shiites from Sadr City. Members of the group reportedly earn as much as 700,000 Iraqi dinars, or $400, per month, a large sum in Iraqi terms. They dress in garb--olive uniform and red beret--redolent of Saddam Hussein's elite guard; their logo is a menacing-looking wolf.

How did the Wolf Brigade earn its reputation?

Last December, the Wolf Brigade--backed up by the Iraqi army and U.S. military--achieved notoriety after launching a series of counterinsurgency operations in Mosul, a Sunni stronghold northwest of Baghdad. Their popularity was further buoyed by the success of Terrorism in the Grip of Justice, a primetime show on U.S.-funded Al Iraqiya television that features live interrogations of Iraqi insurgents by commandos. In one recent show, Abu Walid questioned around 30 shabbily dressed suspects, some clutching photos of their victims, waiting to confess their crimes.

Is the brigade controversial?

Yes. Some Iraqis accuse the Wolf Brigade of targeting Palestinian refugees in Iraq, using torture to extract confessions from prisoners, and slaying six Sunni clerics. Walid denies the charges, which have raised sectarian tensions. Human-rights groups also accuse creators of the counterterrorism television show of violating the Geneva Conventions by publicly humiliating the detainees. Among Shiites, however, there are patriotic songs devoted to the group. The brigade's fierceness has given it a mythical aura: Iraqi parents reportedly warn their children about the "wolves."

2005, May 23 (Iraq the Model) The Wolf Bites Again

According to Al-Iraqia TV, the Wolf brigade's intelligence elements successfully infiltrated the terrorist groups in the Abu Ghraib region and the information gathered this way paved the way for the latest operation which was done in two waves; the 1st raid was accomplished yesterday while the 2nd one started at 5 in the morning today and has just ended as Al-Iraqia reporter at the scene in Abu Ghraib said. The successful raids which represent the largest operation performed by Iraqi forces so far had resulted in arresting 450 suspected terrorists. The brigade depended mainly on its intelligence personnel who recognized the suspects' faces and pointed them out one by one. The Wolf brigade did almost all the job with the multinational forces providing backup when needed.

Among the detainees was an "Amir" i.e. someone who beheaded at least 10 Iraqis. Also it's believed that the terrorist who lead the latest large attack on the prison in Abu Ghraib was also among those detained.

2005, May 22 (San Diego Union Tribune) Elite Iraqi unit gains fans as it takes fight to insurgents
Abul Waleed rifled through a pile of papers, considering the latest accusations against the elite brigade of Iraqi police commandos he leads from a dusty fortress.

The complaints against the Wolf Brigade were the usual: excessive force, renegade patrols, kidnapping, murder. The charges came from Iraq's most powerful Sunni Muslim leaders, and Waleed clearly relished reading them. It's precisely this take-no-prisoners reputation that has made his unit the most feared and revered of all of Iraq's nascent security forces.

"The Muslim Scholars Association? They're infidels," Waleed said, tossing his detractors' complaints into the wastebasket. "The Islamic Party? Humph. More like the Fascist Party." No matter how many complaints about heavy-handedness pile up on Waleed's desk, there's no changing the fact that the Wolf Brigade rules public opinion in a country desperate for Iraqi heroes.
2005, May 19 (FT) Iraq Sunni blame police and Shia for killings

Mr Dhari said Mr Naimi had been taken from his mosque on Monday night in the district of al-Shaab by uniformed troops of the Wolf Brigade, a police commando unit, accompanied by members of the Badr Brigade militia loyal to the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri).

Mr Naimi was "one of the best and most upright men, well known for resisting the occupation", Mr Dhari said.

Other association clerics have said Wolf Brigade commandos gunned down another sheikh, Hamid Mukhlaf al-Dulaimi, on Monday night as he was sleeping on the roof of his home.

Mr Dhari called for the resignation of interior minister Bayan Jaber, a Sciri member who took over the post two weeks ago, and said that the association would pull out of the political process and begin to "defend ourselves" if the killings did not stop.

"We will take revenge on the Brigade of shame," chanted hundreds of dem- onstrators outside the mosque.

An Interior Ministry spokesman could not be reached for comment but the head of the Wolf Brigade denied they had arrested the murdered Sunni. "We don't have these names, we never arrested these people and we have no relation to this case," said the brigade's commander, who goes by the nom de guerre of Abu Walid.

The Wolf Brigade, although it contains a high proportion of Sunni officers, was on the frontlines of the counterinsurgency effort in the northern city of Mosul over the winter, where it tracked down insurgent cells affiliated with the puritan Salafi trend of Sunni Islamism. The police commandos, which recruit from military officers associated with Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party, are said to be among the most effective units under the Iraqi government's control but have been accused of human rights abuses.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Finger-Pointing Over at Treasure of Baghad

Update I & II

Christopher Hitchens vacations in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Iraq that might have been:
We didn't make any investments, though I would say that the hotel and tourism and oil sectors are wide open for enterprise, but we did visit the ancient citadel in Erbil, where Alexander the Great defeated the Persians—my son is a Greek-speaking classicist—and we did sample the lovely mountains and lakes and rivers that used to make this region the resort area for all Iraqis. Air and road travel were easy (you can now fly direct from several airports in Europe to one of two efficient airports in Iraqi Kurdistan), and walking anywhere at night in any Kurdish town is safer than it is in many American cities. The police and soldiers are all friendly locals, there isn't a coalition soldier to be seen, and there hasn't been a suicide attack since May of 2005...there is a memorial of gratitude being built for fallen American soldiers. "We are planning," said the region's prime minister, Nechirvan Barzani, in his smart new office in the Kurdish capital of Erbil, "to invite their relatives to the unveiling." Speaking of unveiling, you see women with headscarfs on the streets and in offices (and on the judicial bench and in Parliament, which reserves a quarter of the seats for women by law), but you never see a face or body enveloped in a burka. The majority of Kurds are Sunni, and the minority are Shiite, with large groups belonging to other sects and confessions, but there is no intercommunal mayhem. Liquor stores and bars are easy to find, sometimes operated by members of the large and unmolested Christian community. On the university campuses, you may easily meet Arab Iraqis who have gladly fled Baghdad and Basra for this safe haven. I know of more than one intrepid Western reporter who has done the same.
24StepsToLiberty says:
On the Kurdistan issue, you have to remember that Kurdistan didn’t start in 2003. It started in 1991. That’s a fact. Masoud Barzani allied with Saddam until he late 1990s to disrupt Jalal Talbani’s territories. They didn’t start in 2003. They were working on their problems for 15 years until they just recently started building their region. Please don’t compare Kurdistan to the rest of Iraq. Please don’t! And if you have to do so, just wait 15 more years!
I agree with this, and as I said to commenter Annie in the exchange recorded below, the primary purpose of the foreign troops in Iraq is to give the country Time to make a soft(er) landing into a stable, free Iraq. I only hope it doesn't take 15 years to get the rest of Iraq solidly on the road to looking like Kurdistan, since I don't think the American public will afford them that much time.

BaghdadTreasure has apparently decided to tolerate my presence in his comment sections again, and I think something I posted there bears repeating here. It is about the tendency of some Iraqi bloggers (BaghdadTreasure, 24StepsToLiberty, Zeyad, etc) to blame the instability of Iraqi on the decisions and actions of US troops or US civil authorities in the year after Saddam was toppled. I dealt with some of these questions last year here.

When no US troops are around, Sunni Arabs will pause to blame Sadr or Maliki, SCIRI, or the Badr Brigade. Shi'a Arabs blame Sunni insurgents, jihadists, and political parties. It's always someone else. It's never the guy who buys CD-ROMs of Coalition soldiers being murdered or relatives and people in their neighborhood who don't report insurgent or militia activity.

But here is a sampling of my conversation at Treasure of Baghdad.

With BaghdadTreasure:
BT: We are blaming the US for its mistakes AFTER the invasion. Starting from disbanding the ALL the former Iraqi army members leaving them to be bites for al-Qaeda who tempted them with thousands of dollars to start the chaos....

CMAR II: Oh, poo! Those in the army who did not disband themselves were those who served in Saddam's army because they were true believers. They weren't tempted away by al-Qaeda's dollars. They were tempted away all too easily by former regime elements who never for a moment stopped fighting since April 9th, 2003...I don't know exactly what the solution for Iraq is...but I'm glad no one followed your advice in 2003 to give heavy armaments to Saddam's most ardent loyalists...the same army that slaughtered 10s of 1000s of Iraqis in 1991.
...and with 24StepsToLiberty:
24STL: when the americans came into iraq, they didn't trust the iraqis. so, they left them waiting in lines outside the green zone and didn't give them jobs. we wrote stories about the thousands of iraqis lining up waiting for ajob in "rebuilding" but nothing happened. when it was too late, they called for iraqis to come back. it was already dangerous to work in rebuilding!

CMAR II: You can't have it both ways. The Americans trusted some Iraqis and not others. There have been endless complaints about the Iraqis IN IRAQ whom the American's trusted (not just Iraqis returning after having been chased out by Saddam). Also, there were a lot of Iraqis the US would have been stupid to trust. There were lots of people lining up to kill Americans and (like it or not) a significant number of Arab Iraqis [of all sects] have always excused or even countenanced murders of Coalition soldiers.

The fact is that the US soldiers were very trusting of Iraqis when they first entered Baghdad. Because of acts by jihadists and insurgents, they stopped trusting. Same on the Iraqi side. That was the goal of the jihadists and Saddamists and narrow-minded imams. I don't know how that goal could be thrwarted....You've said it yourself many times, 24: "The Iraqis did it to themselves." 100K foreign non-Arabic speaking soldiers could never alter a course set collectively by 28 million Iraqis whose worst elements were being encouraged by Iraq's backwards neighbors.
My response to 24StepsToLiberty really got commenter Annie's panties in a bunch...
Annie: don't you think empowering shiites via badr brigades may have supported some iranian influence?

CMAR II: News flash, annie: the Badr Brigades were Iraqi. And they represented a significant anti-Saddam force from the majority demographic of Iraq. You might as well bitch about Kurds being empowered via the Peshmurga [who also had a close relationship with Iran during the Saddam era.].

Annie: [referring to their "backwards neighbors"] i presume you think the heart of the resistance was spurred by AQ

CMAR II: No. The heart of the resistance was spurred by loyalty to Saddam, to Arab Nationalism, and sectarian chauvinism. They did have a working relationship with AQ, however, as is revealed in the writings and testimony of Michael Ware, their most eloquent Western biographer.

Yet, I was referring to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Jordan. As well as more distant regional neighbors like Egypt; the populations and/or governments of which have provided sanctuary, moneys,fighters, and philosophical encouragement to the worst of Iraqis to disrupt their country's stability and modernization. Iraqis are attempting to gentrify an really really bad neighborhood.

Annie: generalizing about who influences 28 million iraq's in 03 is pretty heady of you.

CMAR II: I am saying that Iraq today is what Iraqis have made of it. Kurdistan is relatively stable, liberal, and it's economy is booming despite often lacking dependable electricity and water. It is a place for Iraqi refugees of all heritages. The South of Iraq is relatively stable but is significantly less liberal...dangerously so for some. The West is often a den for insurgents and jihadists. Baghdad has become a war zone as sectarian groups in various districts (where they are tolerated) oppress people there and essay out to blow up people in other districts.

In each area, it is individual decisions (whether to act or not to act) of millions of Iraqis who have made it what it is.

The sole purpose of the foreign troops is not to turn Iraqis into angels. It is only to give Iraq some time...time for the government become founded on a viable contract with the governed whether they be Sunni, Shi'a, Chaldean, Arab, Kurd, Turkoman, or Aardvark.

So it is idiotic, unfair, and counter-productive for 28 million Iraqis to blame 130K foreign soldiers for Iraqis killing Iraqis.
Check it out.


I have no relationship with these guys; certainly no financial relationship. I just really like this design. I think it sums up the Western Left today. Heck, I think it sums up the Middle Eastern media and (generally) the non-extremist observant Muslims. It sums up Raed Jarrar. Anyway click here to go to Cox & Forkum where, if you want to, you can buy a t-shirt.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

VP Taha Yassin Ramadan Hanged

Ramadan calling for a duel between Dubya and Saddam at high noon.

Despite his role in the 1980s as Saddam's enforcer, Ramadan's defense at his trial for the Dujail massacres was that his duties did not include "security issues". When he was sentenced at his trial he said:
"God knows I didn't do anything wrong,"
Anything, Taha?? Not anything??

From Reuters, a "factbox" of the life of the VP (excepting, of course, all those Iraqis who were murdered and tortured under his regime):
Taha Yassin Ramadan, Saddam Hussein's former vice-president, was hanged in Baghdad early on [March 20, 2007] for his role in the killing of 148 Shi'ite Muslim men...
[and boys, and imprisoning/torturing women for years] the town of Dujail in the 1980s.

Here are some facts about him.
  • Born to a peasant family in the northern Mosul region in the late 1930s, Ramadan worked in a bank after completing his secondary education. His political career began in 1956 when he joined the Baath party, then banned by the British-backed monarchy.

  • Apart from Saddam's deputy Izzat Ibrahim, who remains at large, Ramadan was the sole survivor of the plotters of the 1968 coup which returned the Baath party to power. Ramadan joined Iraq's powerful Revolutionary Command Council after the coup.

  • In 1970, he headed a revolutionary court that executed 44 officers for plotting to overthrow the regime.

  • Iraqi exiles accused him of crimes against humanity for his role in crushing a Shi'ite uprising in southern Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War and his alleged involvement in the killing of thousands of Kurds in the north in 1988.

  • Ramadan often went abroad as Saddam's envoy and held many senior posts as his "enforcer". He led the paramilitary Popular Army, whose task was to protect the government. The force was disbanded in 1991 when he became vice-president.

  • Ramadan proposed in 2002, before the start of the war with Iraq in 2003, that Saddam and U.S. President George W. Bush settle their differences...
[aka, Saddam's non-compliance with the 1991 ceasefire agreement and the history of his government harboring terrorists] a duel with weapons of their choice.
[Bush chose the US Army. Saddam chose a spider-hole.]
  • Ramadan was captured in Mosul in August 2003 by Iraqi Kurdish fighters and handed over to U.S. forces. A special Iraqi tribunal convicted him of crimes against humanity. He was hanged early on Tuesday.
Update I

RhusLancia was featured at Treasure of Baghdad to comment on the fourth birthday of an Iraq without Saddam. RL seems to have been laying low about this. Good job! Check it out.

Incidentally, Jeffery and I have been banned over at ToB. Jeffrey, for telling ToB "F... Y...!" (it hurt his feelings) and me for expressing disappointment at ToB's new penchant for carrying the Sunni insurgents' water by reporting their phony propaganda without any attempt at discovering the truth.

Update II

It's the Kurdish New Year in Iraq in a couple hours. Give a Kurd a kiss!
Roj Bash
Roj Bash (forum)
From Holland to Kurdistan
Incoherent Thoughts

Sunday, March 18, 2007

This Is IT!

Sadr Urges Followers to Resist U.S. Forces; Thousands Rally
(Washington Post)

Three times is the charm. The little retarded demon takes on the Great Satan.

All in all, things are not going the way Khamenie or Nejad were dreaming of just a few months ago. Overall the course of events recently in Iraq indicates the beginning of a severe fall for Iran’s stocks in Iraq.
Of course we shouldn’t expect Iran to just sit back and not respond. I think an escalation in attacks by militias loyal to Iran will take place soon, especially outside Baghdad.
Well, that very day, Muqtada Al-Sadr, Tehran's man in Baghdad, declared to his followers in Sadr City:
"Raise your voices, all of you loving your brothers and united against your enemy saying as your leader taught you, 'No America, no Israel, no, no Satan,' by standing and demonstrating that way."
Last week, Sadr asked his supporters to "demand the occupier leaves our dear Iraq so that we could live in independence and stability."
It was unclear whether Sadr, whose Mahdi Army militia has often attacked U.S. and Iraqi forces, was issuing a call to arms. "The statement calls for calming down and self-control and to be careful and cautious of the occupation forces and their agents, because we have become surrounded by them from all sides."
Now, granted, Sadr did not declare war on pro-Iraqi forces or their allies, but he has already led his army of ignorancia to open war against US troops twice in 2004.*
* Jeffery closed this blog for 4 months in August 2004 in protest when Sistani marched into the district to rescue Sadr's militia at the last moment.

And on Thursday gunmen attacked the convoy of Rahim al-Darraji, the mayor of Sadr City, who negotiated to allow "American troops to conduct security sweeps and build a garrison in Sadr City". Darraji was seriously wounded and two of his bodyguards were killed.

Personally, I think Mohammed underestimated Sadr's stupidity...or desperation. In 2004, Sadr City was still a dystopian gutter of hopeless neglect. Over the last 2 1/2 years the Coalition Forces have invested heavily in infrastructure and job programs. If there is a fight this time it's going to be a different story than it was in 2004, with different players: namely the Iraqi military and police.

In the last month, Prime Minister Al-Maliki has removed the protection of his office from Sadr's militia presumably because he's not an idiot and can see that the Democrats are looking for any reason to declare his government a failure and withdraw the American troops. And there were reports that Sadr had fled to Iran (or maybe he was just going there to strategize in Qud. But if Sadr's speeches lead to open warfare against the American troops and Iraqi civil servants as it appears has just begun, he will have to make a unequivocal choice.

If Maliki does not separate himself from Muqtada soon, and serious fighting breaks out in Sadr City, Dubya will not likely be able to withstand the American public's resulting sentiment against the Iraqis...Maliki will have no one but Sadr to defend him from Al-Qaeda in Iraq and the other Arab Sunni insurgent groups. If he sides with the Americans and Iraqi law and seeks to be more than the Prime Minister of the extremist Shi'a, he will have to declare Sadr an enemy of the state.

Frankly, the Iraqi Arab Shi'a will need to make the same decision. Will there be an Iraq at all in which Shi'a Arabs are the majority? Or will there be a Shi'a enclave that is part of a Greater Iran in all but name, a home for Sunni radicals in Anbar, and besieged Fortress Kurdistan in the northwest. Will Uncle Sistani bail out little Muqty in the coming battle?
There's trouble all around the world
Well, it looks that way to me
People don't know what to do
They don't know where they should be
But just one question still remains
To which we must respond
Two roads lead from where we are
Which side are you on?
-- 'Which Side' by Arlo Guthrie

Friday, March 16, 2007

Democrats: No Surrender!

I was making the rounds of the news sites today, looking, as I always do, for the headline announcing that peace had broken out in Iraq. I went to and read their daily roundup of news. As I panned over to their IraqTicker sidebar and scanned it, I saw this amazing headline:

US Democrats vow no surrender in Iraq showdown

What? Had someone hacked into the site and made a joke headline? Was it even possible that the Democrats had decided to forego their internal debates on how quickly they wanted to lose the war, and instead decided to win it?

Scepticism compelled me to click it.

Sure enough, the article wasn't about having resolve in Iraq and doing what needs to be done to stabilize the country. Oh no. It was about doing what they need to do politically, in Congress, to win the political fight to withdraw and leave the Iraqis hanging.

The opening paragraph of the article, written by Charlotte Raab of the AFP, actually reads like a satire equating the political wrangling with military action or something:
Democrats in Congress are vowing to wage an escalating battle to thwart President George W. Bush's plan to stay in Iraq, convinced they have a winning strategy, despite fierce White House resistance.
Stay the course, dems! They will fight the good fight, as long as they think the cause is just. Protecting Iraqis? Helping Iraq to become free and stable? Standing up a democracy in the heart of the Middle East? No no no, don't be silly. Domestic politics, of course. Screw the Iraqis.

The article continues, outlining the Dems' defeat in the Senate and their next move in the House:
The focus of the Democrats' political battle will next week switch from the Senate to the House of Representatives, due to debate Bush's 124 billion dollar budget request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Although it's alarming that they would even consider abandoning the current front of the war on terror, it's not like these resolutions have any real chance. Or in other words:
"The Democratic proposals on Iraq are not designed to actually force the White House on a different course," said Steven Clemons, an analyst with the New America Foundation think-tank.

"They are designed to help make the American public think that the Democrats have strong, alternative ideas, but not to have any of them ultimately adopted. "The Democrats do not want to own this war; they want Bush to own this war -- all the way up until the next presidential race."
Politics! Yesterday the House & Senate, tomorrow the White House! Onward, defeatist non-soldiers! If it takes a wrecked Iraq and a Rwanda-esque genocide to do it, well, that's not their problem, is it?

Monday, March 05, 2007

An Eye for an Eye, a Tooth for a Tooth, Thirty-Two Murders...

... for a rape?

On February 20, it was reported that Iraqi security forces had gang-raped a 20 year old Sunni woman that was in their custody. Sabreen al-Janabi's account was shown on al-Jazeera. After a short investigation, Maliki cleared the officers reportedly involved and even "rewarded" them. The US also weighed in, as did the world press, international bloggers, and Iraqi bloggers.

In her post The Rape of Sabrine... , Riverbend gives an emotional commentary on the subject that mixes a translation of the testimony with her own commentary. An example of her opinion is this:
"She might just be the bravest Iraqi woman ever. Everyone knows American forces and Iraqi security forces are raping women (and men), but this is possibly the first woman who publicly comes out and tells about it using her actual name. Hearing her tell her story physically makes my heart ache. Some people will call her a liar. Others (including pro-war Iraqis) will call her a prostitute- shame on you in advance."
She goes on to remind us the ISF are trained by Americans, some of which also are accused of raping a 14 year-old Iraqi girl and murdering her family. Her post ends with a wide and broad condemnation of the invasion and a declaration that it's over:
"Let me clear it up for any moron with lingering doubts: It’s worse. It’s over. You lost."
Her followup post, Maliki's Reaction... continues along the same lines, but adds specific condemnation for Maliki's quick rejection of the charges as well as the sectarian spin on the story:
"I hate the media and I hate the Iraqi government for turning this atrocity into another Sunni-Shia debacle- like it matters whether Sabrine is Sunni or Shia or Arab or Kurd (the Al Janabi tribe is composed of both Sunnis and Shia)."
Iraqi Konfused Kid offered a contrasting take on the case. He was also the source for the translated subtitles on the YouTube video above (which you can also see from his post). Kid's take is that the allegations themselves were fishy, and he is suspicious about several details and nuances of Sabrine's story:
"It is not unlikely for Iraqi soldiers to commit such acts, It is my own personal belief that Iraqi soldiers are usually worse than US soldiers, and it would be a typical and quite in-character act if they broke into a house and found a woman alone to rape her. The woman's story was detailed and it had emotion in it, when I first saw her, I found her convincing. Nothing much to add above that. But as I sat down to translate it, which makes me in direct contact with every sentence and every nuance, all the fishiness came in the way."
The detail Kid provides to support his suspicions is worth looking at on its own. He concludes with this:
"and as usual the Arab nation did the usual uproar, Adnan al-Dulaymi trembled like a teapot, Mish'aan al-Juboori re-broadcast the clip 25/7, and the media war rages on and on."
Speaking of predictability, Truth About Iraqis concluded his first of three posts on the subject, Iraqi girl gang-raped by US-supported Iraqi soldiers with this:
"Let us hope the occupier and his dogs pay for this. We know the will = )"
Well, wouldn't ya know it? The Islamic State of Iraq captured 18 "Iraqi government employees" the other day. After a 24 deadline to turn over the accused ISF and release female detainees elapsed, the ISI announced that they had killed the 18 men and posted video soon after.

About the same time, it was announced that 14 Iraqi police had been kidnapped and found murdered a few hours later. The picture accompanying this article shows 18 men, however, and the text of the article is not clear about whether the 14 murdered IP are the same as the 18 captured "Iraqi governemt employees". Several articles I've seen make me think they are two separate abductions/mass murders. For example, the IraqSlogger article which shows the snuff film concludes with this:
"Also, the Islamic State of Iraq issued a statement today indicating that fourteen other employees of the Ministry of Interior were captured on Thursday, March 1, and “Allah’s Orders” were also executed upon them."
The MNF-I released its own statement about the incident:
"“These Iraqi Police officers were murdered in cold blood, and they had absolutely
nothing to do with any incidents of rape, as alleged by these deceitful terrorists,” said
[Major General Benjamin R. Mixon, commander of Task Force Lightning in Multinational Division-North].

Responsibility for the murders has been claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq,
according to this group’s web site, and cited in numerous open source media reports. Mixon called for public outcry condemning these murders."
Condemn the murders? How 'bout it, Riverbend and TAI? I seem to recall those two were pretty upset that one (later, two more) death sentence was carried out for 148 murders with 300,000 or so more murders that could've been aired in court. Is 32 murders a fair price to pay for one rape? Or would they simply project this one case onto the entire ISF as they do for isolated cases of incidents involving the US troops?

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