Monday, March 05, 2007

Is Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki the new Saddam?

This great post by Spread the Word: Iraq-Nam, a daily blog on Iraq.

Iraq Gets A New Saddam, Part 3

1. Negotiate a deal with Washington. Give them what they want, and you get to stay in power:

Perspective: A Maliki-Sadr Breakup?

Has the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki decided to sever its alliance with Moqtada al-Sadr? It sure sounds like it if you listen to top Maliki adviser Sadiq al-Rikabi criticize Sadr: "You cannot be in the government and working against the government at the same time. You cannot be a part of the government while breaking the law. If you're going to be a part of the government, you should respect the institutions of the government."

2. Declare your new 'security plan', saying it targets 'outlaws'

Maliki Announces New Security Plan

BAGHDAD, Jan. 6 -- Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced a new security plan Saturday to tame Baghdad's growing violence, saying the effort will be led by Iraqis and will combat militants regardless of their religious sect.

Maliki's speech provided few details about the tactical or strategic changes guiding the new plan but stressed that it was not intended to target one side of Iraq's sectarian war over the other.

"The Baghdad security plan will not offer a safe shelter for outlaws regardless of their ethnic and political affiliations, and we will punish anyone who hesitates to implement orders because of his ethnic and political background," Maliki said at a commemoration ceremony for the 86th anniversary of the founding of the Iraqi Army.

3. Every strongman needs a 2nd in command. So appoint your own:

Maliki chooses Qanbar as Baghdad commander over reported U.S. objection

BAGHDAD -- Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has filled the top military job in Baghdad with a virtually unknown Iraqi officer chosen over the objections of top US and Iraqi military commanders, according to officials from both governments.

Iraqi political figures said yesterday that Maliki also had failed to consult the leaders of other political factions before announcing the appointment of Lieutenant General Abud Qanbar.

The appointment is highly significant because it is Maliki's first public move after President Bush's announcement that he is sending more troops to Iraq.

3. Decree martial law (even if you have to call it 'emergency-style powers'):

Maliki decree gives Baghdad commander Qanbar sweeping 'emergency powers' over police, army, populace

Baghdad - The commander of a new security plan for the Iraqi capital Baghdad will have sweeping new emergency-style powers, according to a government decree read out by the general on Tuesday.

Lieutenant-General Abboud Gambar said that, under the authority of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, he would combine command of the police and the armed forces in the war torn capital and enjoy increased responsibility.

The decree authorises him to "impose necessary restrictions in all public places and centres and clubs and organisations and unions and businesses and institutions and offices to protect citizens and people who work".

"Searches will be done on public streets and precautionary measures will be applied on packages, mail, messages and communications and telecommunications equipment," he said, reading the decree on state television.

"Security forces will be authorised to block or search public or private property ... (and) will have the right to impose travel restrictions on individuals or vehicles," he added.

4. Move the opposition out of the way...

Report: Letter from Maliki advised Shiite militia to flee

A Kurdish news agency published a letter Wednesday purporting to be from Iraqi Premier Nuri al-Maliki in which he advised Shiite Muslim militia commanders to leave Iraq to avoid being detained or killed by US troops.Peyamner news agency, a Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) affiliate, published the letter from January 14 which was allegedly sent to the Iranian embassy in Baghdad, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution of Iraq and the office of the al-Sadr Shiite militia.

Source: Baghdad death squad leaders have fled to Iran with Maliki encouragement

DEATH SQUAD leaders have fled Baghdad to evade capture or killing by American and Iraqi forces before the start of the troop "surge" and security crackdown in the capital.

A former senior Iraqi minister said most of the leaders loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical anti-American cleric, had gone into hiding in Iran...

The former minister, who did not want to be named for security reasons, backed Sunni MPs’ claims that Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, had encouraged their flight.

Talabani: Sadr orders militia heads to leave Iraq 'to make the mission of the security forces easier'

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has ordered heads of his Mehdi Army militia to leave Iraq and asked the government to arrest "outlaws" under a U.S.-backed crackdown, Iraq's president said on Thursday.

President Jalal Talabani made the remarks after Iraq closed its borders with Iran and Syria and as U.S. and Iraqi troops tightened their grip on Baghdad, searching neighborhoods and setting up checkpoints that searched even official convoys.

5. Intimidate potential opposition...

Report: Son of Shi'ite leader al-Hakim arrested on return from Iran

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — U.S. troops arrested the son of Iraq's most powerful Shiite politician Friday as he returned to the country from Iran, Shiite officials said.

Amar al-Hakim, son of political leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, was taken into custody at a crossing point and was transferred to a U.S. facility in Kut, according to the elder al-Hakim's secretary, Jamal al-Sagheer.

Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim is leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the country's largest Shiite party with longtime ties to Iran. He met with President Bush at the White House in December, and his party is part of the Shiite alliance that includes Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Uproar before passage of security plan; Sunni says no trust in PM; Maliki threatens leading Sunni with arrest as terrorist

BAGHDAD, Jan. 25 — Iraq’s Shiite prime minister and Sunni lawmakers hurled insults at one another during a raucous session of Parliament on Thursday, with the prime minister threatening a Sunni lawmaker with arrest and the Sunni speaker of Parliament threatening to quit...

In Parliament on Thursday, Mr. Maliki focused his anger on Sunni lawmakers, accusing one of being involved in sectarian kidnappings. The confrontation erupted after Mr. Maliki described the outlines of the new Baghdad security plan and pledged there would be no "safe haven" for militants.

The leader of a powerful Sunni bloc, Abdul Nasir al-Janabi, provoked Mr. Maliki, saying over jeers from Shiite politicians, "We cannot trust the office of the prime minister."

His microphone was quickly shut off, and Mr. Maliki lashed into him, essentially accusing him of being one of the outlaws he had just said would not be granted sanctuary. "I will show you," Mr. Maliki said, waving his finger in the air. "I will turn over the documents we have," implying that the legislator was guilty of crimes.

6. Crush your enemies...

Maliki orders security forces to crush foes

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki told his security forces on Tuesday to show no mercy toward insurgents in a security crackdown in Baghdad.

Iraqiya state television showed Maliki, a Shi'ite Islamist leader, talking to an Iraqi soldier near an armored vehicle in central Baghdad. The soldier pointed to an area from where he said insurgents had been firing at security forces.

"Don't just fire back, crush the place where the fire came from," Maliki replied. "Don't treat them with leniency. This is an armored vehicle here, use it."

Maliki: 400 'militants' killed in crackdown

BAGHDAD - US and Iraqi security forces have killed around 400 suspected militants since the start of a major crackdown to stem violence in Baghdad, Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki said on Saturday.

Maliki visited the command centre for the operation which was launched 10 days ago and urged security forces taking part in it not to be influenced by sectarian loyalties.

He told reporters 426 suspected militants had been detained in the crackdown ‘and around that number have been killed’.

7. Grab total political power...

Report: Maliki 'cabinet reshuffle' to include arrests of up to 100

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraq's prime minister said Saturday he will reshuffle his Cabinet within two weeks and pursue criminal charges against political figures linked to extremists as a sign of his government's resolve to restore stability during the U.S.-led security crackdown in Baghdad...

After the changes are announced, al-Maliki said he would undertake a "change in the ministerial structure," presumably consolidating and streamlining the 39-member Cabinet. The prime minister did not say how many Cabinet members would be replaced. But some officials said about nine would lose their jobs, including all six Cabinet members loyal to radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, an al-Maliki ally...

During the interview, al-Maliki said other top officials would face prosecution for ties to insurgents, sectarian militias and death squads - including members of parliament.

"There has been coordination between us and the Multinational Forces ... starting at the beginning of this year ... to determine who should arrested and the reasons behind arresting them," he said.

Al-Maliki did not elaborate on the U.S.-Iraqi coordination but said Iraqi judicial authorities were reviewing case files to decide which to refer to an Iraqi investigative judge, who must decide whether there is enough evidence to order a trial...

The prime minister did not say how many politicians and officials might be targeted for formal investigation, an Iraqi legal step that corresponds to a grand jury probe...

But five senior Iraqis - two of them generals and three from Shiite and Sunni parties - have told the AP that up to 100 prominent figures could face legal proceedings.

Note that this last step accomplishes the other half of the Hadley memo... 'to reconfigure his parliamentary bloc'. But why, with martial law in place and the crushing of foes underway, is it so important to realign parliament?

Perhaps the reason lies here...

Perspective: Troubles for the Iraq Oil Deal

Barely two days have passed since Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki hailed the country's new petroleum law as a "solid base for unity of all Iraqis" — a rare boast these days. President Bush has also trumpeted it as proof that Iraq has a viable future. But parliamentarians and Iraq's oil unions have already begun mobilizing against the draft legislation, arguing that it is a desperate attempt by al-Maliki's government to satisfy Western demands, which could damage Iraq's economic future and speed the country's ultimate disintegration.

Iraq Gets A New Saddam,

And so we're five years on into the 'liberation'. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead. Thousands more troops slain. One and a half million Iraqi's 'internally displaced'. Millions more living in terror of torture, murder and bombings. And the result of all we've 'accomplished' so far...

One dictator gone with another one ready to fill the breech... and the certainty of more death, savagery and carnage to come.

This diary by Spread the Word: Iraq-Nam, a daily blog on Iraq.

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