In an article attributed to the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and published in the New York Times on October 30th, al-Maliki urged the American administration to “be patient with him” and his regime. The article was published shortly before American President, Barack Obama, met al-Maliki, who, according to official Iraqi sources, planned to discuss his request to equip Iraqi forces with arms and train the security and military forces to combat terrorism. Well informed sources have noted that the visit was based on the American administration’s call for al-Maliki to determine Iraq’s future long-term role in light of the development of American-Iranian discussions and the Strategic Framework Agreement, allows America to interfere in Iraqi affairs (security, economy, cultural and education).
It is well-known that al-Maliki’s regime blames all terrorist acts (including the continuous car explosions that usually take place in markets, coffee shops and mosques) solely on al-Qaeda, turning a blind eye to the regime’s militias’ role. Most of them are members of parties involved in the political process, such as Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM), the Badr Organisation, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, Hezbollah in Iraq, and the Mukhtar Army, whose leader, Wathiq al-Battat, boasted of taking responsibility for a number of recent attacks in an interview with al Baghdadiya TV.
Al-Maliki and the regime officials are ignoring the problems of the Iraqi Special Forces inherited from the occupation, who were trained by Colonel James Steele under the supervision of John Negroponte. Negroponte was a former American Ambassador to Iraq and was responsible for the fiercest assassination campaign against the rebels in Latin America during the 1980’s. James Steele drowned Iraq in a sea of blood during the occupation. These forces are now directly linked to al-Maliki’s office.
Perhaps more important than that is the turning of a blind eye to the number of CIA agents, private security companies and organised networks of assassins, which many believe are protected by the regime, under the umbrella of the biggest American embassy in the world, in the al-Khadra’ area in Baghdad. There is a belief that the parties capable of executing large and continued terrorist acts are the same parties controlling about one million members of the army and security forces, including members of the Special Forces. It is worth reminding everyone of the Iranian Quds Force’s intervention, based on orders by General Qasem Soleimani, who used Iraq as a battlefield for his actions against the US to create a significant Iranian presence in the current negotiations on Iran’s regional role.
Why do so many of the Iraqis believe that most of the atrocities blamed on al-Qaeda, who are definitely not innocent, are actually executed by the regime’s various agencies? The most obvious reason is that over the last few years, the regime, its constitution and its political process has been a manifestation of the horrible sectarian division caused by the occupation and has, therefore generated a government of criminals, warlords, thieves and religious preachers. This corrupt ruling class is now consuming $100 billion a year of the country’s petrol fortune, leaving everyone else in the country to fend for themselves. This class’s weapon is sectarianism; the monster created by the Anglo-American occupation’s divide and conquer. However, this monster, like all monsters and oppressive rulers, is out of control and has caused the death of thousands of innocent victims as a result of the political parties’ sectarian fighting. During July and September of this year, 3000 people were killed and 3 times as many were injured; several injured victims died due to a lack of medical services. The acts of violence are broadcast daily on Iraqi television, just like the weather broadcast and are destroying the community through incitement and vengefulness. This has led to the division of people who have co-existed for thousands of years and the establishment of the “us” and “them” mentality.
In the Transparency International report on Iraq in 2012, the organisation described the connection between government corruption and violence as consisting of, “serious embezzlement, fraudulent contracts and purchases, money laundering, oil smuggling and widespread bureaucratic bribery, all of which fuel political violence and hinder the establishment of an effective state that provides services to its people.”
About $80 million is illegally transferred out of Iraq every week, while the population suffers from poverty, unemployment and a lack of basic services.
The regime has created a state of fear allowing militias and gangs to control daily life executing unprecedented campaigns of arrests, torture and executions. This drives everyone to think about opposing the regime or leaving the country for their own safety as well as the safety of their families. Protestors in Baghdad, Fallujah, al-Nasiriya and other cities have also been confronted with threats and imprisonment. Meanwhile, 51 protestors were killed and several people were wounded in al Huwaija, north of Baghdad, when security forces and the army raided a protest camp on April 23rd. 3 journalists were killed in October alone, driving the Committee to Protect Journalists to nickname Iraq as “the country where journalist murders go unpunished”.
Reports by the Human Rights Watch provide a picture of the institutional fear and terror; its international report issued this year stated that “the forces associated with the Ministries of Defence, Interior and Justice, as well as the elite forces, report directly to the Prime Minister. There have been continued arbitrary detentions of a broad spectrum of detainees, including imprisonment of some in secret prisons outside the purview of the Interior and Justice ministries.” The Justice Ministry also announced that as of the beginning of November, 42 prisoners had been executed, including one woman, an act condemned by the United Nations Human Rights Council Chair, who described it as “abusive and inhumane”. There are now 48 crimes punishable by death under current Iraqi law.
It’s no wonder that Iraqis see no way out from under the current regime. There has also been an increase in national organisations, such as the Association of Muslim Scholars, calling for international measures to be taken to help Iraq maintain its peace and security and avoid further bloodshed. However, I believe that the Iraqis have never stopped trying to achieve this and fight terrorism in every form, which drives us to ask the American and British people to take the necessary measures of forcing their elected governments to ban supplying repressive regimes, including the al-Maliki regime, with security assistance, especially weapons. Providing al-Maliki’s regime with weapons and advanced technology would add another crime to the list already committed by the United States against Iraq since the invasion in 2003, especially since the weapons have all been used by the regime against the Iraqi people.
The author is an Iraqi novelist. This is a translation of the Arabic text published in Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper on 4 November, 2013.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.