Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Bits & Pieces

So there is some justice in this world after all: The New York Times is reporting for its Sunday edition that Iraqi authorities are going after Iraqi Sunni parliamentarian, Misha’an Al-Jabouri, and his son Yazan, on corruption charges. They are also accused of allegedly funneling funds to the insurgents. This is what Talisman Gate had to say recently on Mr. Jabouri—who has gone into hiding according to the news report (Pssst: try finding Jabouri in Masoud Barzani’s bastion in Salahuddin, or Damascus). Mr. Jabouri’s block had won three seats in December’s parliamentary elections. Oddly enough, when Ziad Qattan wanted to go into hiding, he also initially found refuge with Mr. Barzani. Come to think of it, when Hazim Al-Sha’alan arrived back in Iraq, he was a guest of Barzani’s in Arbil. Barzani involved in corruption? Could it be? I know of two shelves full of files from Saddam’s intelligence archive detailing the shenanigans of the Barzani clan and their close association with Saddam-era corruption. It is probably time for whoever has access to these documents to render a service to the Iraqi people by releasing the information they contain.

...Speaking of Saddam’s Archive: Yonadem Kanna, the head of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, was in Washington over the past week meeting with all sorts of power brokers. His comings-and-goings even included breakfast with President Bush, according to a press release from Kanna’s people. He had just won a seat in the December elections, but the bad folks over at the De-Ba’athification Commission are blocking his admission to the parliament. Why? Well, it seems that Kanna was recruited by Saddam’s Intelligence Service in 1997 while he was an opposition member living in Kurdish-controlled Northern Iraq. I know of two large binders that tell the whole story of how this happened, but I was not allowed to peruse them, or copy any material, unfortunately. The allegation is not unmerited, and the De-Ba’athification people are acting fully within the law. So far, Kanna has not even employed the usual refrain that he was only feeding disinformation to the regime, and has kept mum on the allegation.

Rain on Jabiri’s Parade: Elaph’s Usama Mahdi had a story yesterday about a “vicious campaign” being waged by the UIA against one of its own, Nadim Al-Jabiri. They are accusing him of being a former member of the Ba’ath Party and a Saddam loyalist; they are republishing articles he had written in the past praising the former dictator. Jabiri, who is the Fadhila Party’s candidate for the PM slot, apparently had authored many pieces in Al-Thawra Newspaper, the official organ of the Ba’ath Party, over the years and these may have come back to haunt him and end his run in politics. Furthermore, as a professor of political science at Baghdad University, he had supervised PhD dissertations by leading regime officials such as ‘Abid Hmoud, Saddam’s secretary and kinsman, according to these allegations. One embarrassing article that has been re-published is from the November 17, 1987 issue of Qadissiya Newspaper (a publication associated with Iraq’s armed services) whereby Jabiri hails Saddam as an “inspirational leader” among other sycophantic epithets. Interestingly, Jabiri seems to have published a post-liberation book titled The Appropriate Form of Government for Iraq in which he recommends Khomeini’s model of Vilayet-el-Faqih! However, Jabiri’s reforms the model slightly by stipulating that the Supreme Leader should only reign for a 7 year term that can be renewed only once.

Iraqi-British youth arrested in Spain on terrorism charges: Hayyaj Muhlib Ma’an, 25, the son of an Iraqi businessman residing in Britain, was arrested by Spanish authorities in January along with 20 other suspected activists accused of recruiting fighters to join the insurgency. The story was carried by Asharq Al-Awsat citing information from the Salafist-leaning Maqrizi Center in London. Hayyaj’s father is described as a “Sunni from southern Iraq”—probably from Zubeir given the heavily ‘tribal-sounding’ name. It should be noted that the town of Zubeir to the south-east of Basra is an anomaly in southern Iraq since it was populated some 200 years ago by Nejdi tribesmen from the heart of Arabia, who were strongly influenced by Wahhabi propaganda. In the last 50 years, most of its people had immigrated to Saudi Arabia and taken its citizenship. Today, the desert oasis town is two-thirds Shia. This yet another story that makes you think about what sort of ideology (...and family background) would compel a British-raised kid to go on 'walkabout' and make the rounds for jihad. It must have been those darn cartoons!

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