Monday, December 04, 2006

Iraq-Militias - A farewell to arms in Iraq?

Voices of Iraq: Iraq-Militias (Feature)A farewell to arms in Iraq?
Posted by: nadioshka on Monday, December 04, 2006 - 12:39 PM
By Ali Hussein

Baghdad, Dec 4, (VOI) – A current obsession of all Iraqis is the issue of the militias, blamed for the wave of sectarian killings, forced displacement and kidnappings that swept the country amidst a security vacuum and recriminations among politicians.

Recent Iraqi intelligence reports revealed that large amounts of weapons and equipment, left by gunmen after escaping their areas, were seized.
U.S. Congress reports also spoke of the loss of tens of thousands of pieces of American weapons that were supposed to be delivered to the Iraqi army, without any word of where they have disappeared.

Military expert Tawfiq al-Yasseri, the Chairman of the Security & Defense Committee in the Iraqi parliament, said there is a complicated map of the key militias on the ground, which may be divided into several divisions including what one that considers itself a defender of faith like Shiite Leader Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. Another groups shifted to an NGO status like Badr Organization, an offshoot of Shiite Leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim's Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).

"Those two armed groups have their equivalents on the Sunni side: the Omar Brigade and Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda, which is one of the most dangerous groups active in Iraq," explained Yasseri.

"After the 2003 fall of Saddam's regime, the Americans let the door wide open for seizure of weapons cached by the former regime, which estimated by some to be 50 million pieces and their spare parts," said Yasseri.

These weapons were light like guns, rifles and hand grenades and medium like machine-guns, anti-aircraft guns, mortars, bazookas, landmines and explosive charges, in addition to missiles, cannons, tanks and airplanes that are defunct within a U.S. air superiority.

Maj. General Ahmed al-Khafaji, Undersecretary of the Interior, said weapons at present are not only those inside Iraq after the regime's fall, but also those that come from beyond the borders for use by the militias.

"Not only security-related ministries that are concerned with the militias and their weapons, but we need a body of measures through which solutions could be reached," said Khafaji.

The interior ministry official pointed out that political action should start with the Iraqi political parties' belief in the importance of laying down arms, respecting the state's role and preventing any interferences by neighboring countries in Iraq's internal affairs.

"We need an awareness-raising campaign, not only among the citizens but also among the politicians that everyone should be convinced that nobody would win and that dialogue, not guns, would be the only way to get out of this whirlpool safely," suggested Khafaji.

He indicated that the state's role has to be strengthened to end all armed aspects on the street and to arrest and deter whoever carry weapons illegally. This, he said, could require enhancing the tribes and civil society organizations' roles and providing jobs for those who carry arms now, whether military men or civilians.

Hassan al-Sayyid, a member of the Iraqi Parliament, said Iraqis, whether they liked it or not, are now affiliated to political parties and consequently carry arms to protect themselves as well as their parties.

"Laying the weapons should start from within the political blocs and by a political decision that brings them together as these political entities can have influence over their members," Sayyid said.

"In my own personal view I believe that the government needs a detailed agenda and up-to-date practical ways to collect weapons from the Iraqi street, like for instance purchasing arms from the citizens, and then enacting strict legislations against arms carriers until the state restores its influence," Sayyid noted.

Abdul-Karim al-Aanzi, a member of parliament and former minister of national security, however, thinks that U.S. officials in Iraq are encumbering the government from practicing its role, wondering whether the Americans have a genuine will to have the militias' arms laid.

"Collecting weapons during the current time would make the terrorists' job easy; the dismantling of those militias can never take place except after strengthening the government," al-Aanzi said.

He added, "we need a political agreement encompassing all the Iraqis and, out of the belief in the government's role, this should be followed by legislations incriminating arms-carrying, even inside homes, as an offence."

Other analysts think that undeclared steps have already been taken to collect arms from the Iraqi street, like the instructions to new police recruits to buy their weapons from the street and have them registered in the state books.
The analysts also referred to an international agreement to prohibit trade in arms, particularly light ones, which had been approved by 139 countries, including Iraq, and the Iraqi cabinet's endorsement of an agreement banning use, storage, making or transferring anti-personnel landmines.

Legislator Sami al-Aaskari of the Unified Iraqi Coalition said: "The militias played a key role in unseating the Saddam regime, but now they are seriously involved in sectarian kidnappings, killings and forced evictions nationwide."

Abdul-Khaliq Zankana, a member of parliament of the Kurdistan Coalition, said, "the militias present now on the Iraqi street are actually carrying out a foreign agenda serving neighboring countries, which is very dangerous."

Legislator Mathal al-Allusi called for "a timetable to disband the militias and to steer clear of the military option in dealing with these forces" which, he said existed due to negligence of their areas.

Those groups "have not been an object of interest by the government," he said, referring to the (Mahdi Army) militia in Sadr City. The Mahdi Army "has suffered a great deal during the dictator's time and now is suffering negligence," Allusi added.

Iraq-Militias (Feature) :: Aswat al Iraq [ english]

الميليشيات-سلاح (تحقيق) :: Aswat al Iraq :: Aswat al Iraq [Arabic version adds details - recommended - mfi ]

What is behind the vying attention paid to Iraq? UPDATED: 16:05, December 04, 2006

The Middle East situation often undergoes abrupt changes with "plays being staged one after another". Shortly after the war flames of Lebanon have ceased, the situation in Iraq is critical with deteriorating sectarian murders between the Sunnis and Shiites, and the word "civil war" has frequentely appeared in media reports of various countries around the world to describe the worsening situation in Iraq. The stake holders of the Iraq issue have been involved themselves in busy and bustling diplomatic activities.

[snip]

What is more tough and thorny in the issue is that once the Americans and Iranians sit together to discuss the major issue concerning Iraq, Iran may demand an exorbitant price, namely, the security of its own nuclear program, which the US side will hardly accept.

So, the U.S.' diplomacy in the Middle East has entered into a period of agony, which demands meticulousness on the part of the United States, without losing any tempers.

People's Daily Online -- What is behind the vying attention paid to Iraq?

see also:

People's Daily Online -- Yearender: Sectarian violence pushes Iraq to brink of civil war

Another Journalist Murdered

بغداد- اغتيال صحفي :: Aswat al Iraq :: Aswat al Iraq
اصوات العراق: بغداد- اغتيال صحفي كتب: adel في يوم الأثنين, 04 ديسمبر, 2006 - 11:58 AM BT مرصد الحريات: مسلحون يغتالون صحفيا عراقيا في بغداد بغداد -( أصوات العراق) قال مرصد الحريات الصحفية في العراق اليوم الإثنين إن مسلحين مجهولين اغتالوا مراسل ( راديو دجلة) نبيل إبراهيم ظاهر أمام منزله في منطقة الوشاش غرب بغداد . وأوضح بيان للمرصد تلقت وكالة أنباء ( أصوات العراق) المستقلة نسخة منه أن "مسلحين مجهولين اطلقوا نيران اسلحتهم على الصحفي نبيل ابراهيم امام منزله في منطقة الوشاش في ساعة مبكرة من صباح اليوم واردوه قتيلا." وأضاف البيان أن "الصحفي ظاهر كان يعمل مديرا للاخبار في ( إذاعة دجلة) المحلية ،ويبلغ من العمر ( 36) عاما.. وهو متزوج ولديه طفلين." وندد المرصد بحادثة اغتيال الصحفي ظاهر ،وقال "إن الغاية من تصفية الصحفيين هي محاولة واضحة لتضليل الرأي العام العالمي ،من خلال إرهاب الصحفيين ومنعهم من كشف ما يجري على أرض الواقع في العراق بكل أبعاده ومدياته." وذكر مرصد الحريات ،وهو منظمة مستقلة مقرها بغداد وتعنى بالدفاع عن الصحفيين والحريات الصحفية ،الحكومة العراقية وكافة المنظمات الدولية "بواجبها و التزاماتها تجاه صحفيي العراق ،الذين باتوا يسقطون الواحد تلو الآخر دون رادع أو رقيب." ع ف- ن
[ The news director of Radio Tigris was shot dead in front of his home today. Nabil Ibrahim, was 36 years old, married and had two children. - mfi] see item immediately below:

Other: In Iraq, an Obligation Coming Due

By Michael Goldfarb
Sunday, December 3, 2006; B07

Every time I read about the United States pulling out while Iraq takes the final step into the abyss of civil war, I find myself thinking of a conversation I had with my translator and my driver in April 2003 as the first phase of the war was reaching its climax.

[snip]

I think of this brave young man traveling all over his country offering seminars on democracy and wonder what will happen to him and those who have attended his training sessions when the United States draws down its force and says to whatever government is in place in Baghdad, "Fellas, it's on you." Provision needs to be made for their safety.

On the drive back to Irbil that hopeful afternoon 3 1/2 years ago, as the metaphorical noose was tied around the neck of Hussein's statue in Baghdad, I reached across into the front seat and put my hand on my driver's shoulder. I looked at my translator. "Tell Sami he has nothing to fear." I paused so he could translate that sentence. "Saddam is finished, but if anything happens, I will make sure he is safe. And his family."

When Ahmad finished translating, I turned to Sami, who spoke some English and said, "Okay?" It was an easy promise to make, since I believed I would never have to honor it. Now I fear I may have to.

Michael Goldfarb, a journalist, is the author of "Ahmad's War, Ahmad's Peace: Surviving Under Saddam, Dying in the New Iraq." Read in full




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