Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Desperate for 'Authentic' Sunni Voices...

This week’s Kazimi Award for Clueless Commentary on the Middle East (KACCME) goes to David Ignatius for his column, In Cairo Clarity on Iraq, published today. Sorry David, but you qualified for this award solely on the basis of citing Mishaan Jabouri as a credible person. Your judgment on the cast of unreliable ‘Iraqi Sunnis in Amman’ whose opinion you take into consideration began spiraling downwards when you cited Talal Gaood (Ignatius, Iraq Can Survive This, July 29, 2005, and How Iran is Winning Iraq, December 17, 2004, Washington Post) as one of the building blocks of a new Iraq. But Mishaan is particularly onerous. This is how Ignatius put it:

“I discussed the outlines of the Cairo package with several Iraqi Sunni leaders while I was in Amman last week. They viewed it as a way to consolidate support among Sunnis for the new Iraqi political process and for the government that will emerge in December. They link any U.S. pullout to development of Iraqi security forces that can co-opt and contain the insurgency.

"We support the insurgency, but we don't support the suicide bombings," Sunni politician Mishan Jabouri told me. He heads a party that's running in December's elections on a platform that opposes U.S. occupation -- but is also quietly working to build up Iraqi security forces so the Americans don't leave a vacuum.”

Some questions Ignatius should have asked Mishaan Rakkadh Dhamin Al-Jabouri, and then corroborated:
-What was the nature of your relationship with Saddam Kamil, son-in-law of Saddam Hussein?
-Under what conditions did you leave Iraq? And how is it that the Syrian authorities allowed you to set up shop in Damascus and open a newspaper, alitijahalakher?
-What is your relationship to Massoud Barzani? Do you receive funding and other forms of support from him?
-How do you answer allegations that Barzani's Kurdish Democratic Party rigged the elections in Sherqat that gave you a National Assembly seat?
-On May 5, 2005, you were detained in Baghdad International Airport, along with your Syrian wife, son and Indonesian maid, for carrying approximately $400,000 in cash out of the country while attempting to board an Iraqi Airways Damascus-bound flight; where did you get this money from?

Jabouri: quote him at your own risk...

Furthermore, a cursory search would have revealed this story in the New York Times (byline, David Rohde) from way back on April 18, 2003, when U.S. Marines killed at least 10 Iraqi men and wounded as many as 16 others in a chaotic clash with thousands of protesters in Mosul:

“Wounded Iraqis in the city's general hospital on Tuesday gave a different version of events. They said an Iraqi opposition leader, Mishaan Jabouri, started speaking to the crowd and hailing the arrival of American forces in Mosul.

”It was unclear how Jabouri, who has been in exile in Syria and has a checkered past that includes allegations of corruption and theft, got into Mosul. But his message angered the crowd, Iraqis said. "After we threw stones at Mishaan Jabouri," said Sadullah Ghanal, "the Americans started to fire on us."

When politicians are cited, it is necessary to provide one’s readers with a brief description of their ‘baggage.’ This is especially true in the Middle East and Iraq. A lot of people in Washington take what Ignatius writes seriously, and whoever gets mentioned in his columns become ‘kosher’ with a large chunk of the foreign policy and intelligence communities. Thus, it is downright irresponsible to ‘whitewash’ Mr. Jabouri.

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