Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

New Column: 'Abu Omar' vs. the Shias

Check out my new column about the Jaafari impasse and US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad's role in it, 'Abu Omar' vs. the Shias.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe if Solagh wasn't such a nasty minister, then "Abu Omar" would be a little more SCIRI friendsly, plus since when did SCIRI or Da'awa become synonomous with the Shites?

11:45 AM, April 12, 2006

Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...

Hi anonymous,

What are you talking about? Khalilzad is super-friendly to SCIRI, or did it escape your notice that Adel Abdel-Mahdi is one of SCIRI's leaders...?

Plus, there is no equivalency between the atrocities of the Sunni insurgency and the few excesses of the Ministry of Interior--none of which can be tied directly to Mr. Solagh since, if that were possible, the Americans would have arrested him long ago.

And one more thing, at least 80% of Iraq's Shias voted for the Da'awa-SCIRI list, so in a sense, one can make the argument that at this jucture in history, they are synonymous.

12:59 PM, April 12, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Mr. Kazimi,

Nothing about Iraqi politics escapes my notice, but you claim in your column that Khalilzad was rooting for the Fadhilla candidate and in the past Solagh and the SCIRI bosses have been critisized by Khalilzad, there were even reports that Solagh was briefly arrested, or did that escape your notice?

One more thing Nibras, try to hold democratically elected individuals to different standards than you would Zarqawi and co. There is a big difference between bombing a mosque and torturing suspected terrorists in the Jaddirya prison, but the latter was done by my damned purple finger whereas the former was done by an outlawed group of people who have no place in the Iraqi society.

خلي نسميها امبراطورية شيعستان مو احسن؟

2:09 PM, April 12, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

happy birthday, nice column.


2:21 PM, April 12, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im not sure the Shia are behaving all that better than the sunni factions at this point. I mean, there are civilian sunnis being rounded up and shot.

3:20 PM, April 12, 2006

Blogger Tequila said...

Are you sure there is no such equivalency btw the Sunni insurgency and the "few excesses" of the Interior Ministry? There have been an awful lot of executed bodies turning up in Baghdad lately. Not to say that suicide bombings are kosher, but neither are mass executions or torture by electric drill.

At any rate shouldn't your characterization of the UIA as representing 80% of Iraqi Shias expand beyond just Dawa-SCIRI? The Sadrists control almost as many seats as SCIRI, for instance, and 22% of seats are held by independent candidates.

7:05 AM, April 13, 2006

Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...

Dear anonymous,

You can have the moral highground all to yourself, since I've been clear on this blog: I support torture--I put an "I Love Torture" banner at one point for further clarity. But the state has the sole legal right to monopolize violence, or so I've been told. Extracting information from those who want to kill civilians is as compelling a situation to justify torture as ever there is one.

I've also come to the conclusion that there is a group of people in Iraq who will continue to be negative towards the political system in place since April 9, 2003 and there are those who will make excuses for it. It so happens that for the most part, the divide falls along sectarian lines. There are exceptions, of course, but these are in the tiniest minority.

And your comment in Arabic about "Shiistan" is very revealing, but you should know that if the Shias split from the Iraqi union, then they are likely to take Baghdad with them (check out the voting ratios for Baghdad Province) and whoever takes the capital gets to keep the name "Iraq"--so there won't be a need for the name "Shiistan"...

8:30 AM, April 13, 2006

Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...

Dear tequila,

With the US in total control of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (Shahwani's mukhaberat--Gen. Shahwani is a Sunni) as well as several Special Forces Battalions, and with a political willingness to go after Islamist-controlled governmental "death squads", then why haven't we heard about a series of arrests leading up the chain of command all the way from the bad apples to the minister himself?

It is fine and dandy to have all sorts of accusations swirling around, but to this date no interested party has yet to produce evidence of a state-sanctioned "death squad"...

That said, there are plenty of independently-operated death squads that are taking reprisals against Sunnis. Did anyone think, after three years of car bombs and beheadings, that all Shias are just going to sit idly by? There are those on the margins who are fighting back, irrespective of what Sistani tells them, but for the most part, the Shias are biting the bullet and keeping calm, hence their overall and overwhelming "good behavior"...

You are right about the UIA being representative of the Sadrists and others too, but the point was that all in all, the UIA list can be said to be the political vehicle of the vast majority of Iraq's Shias.

Thanks for your input.

8:40 AM, April 13, 2006

Blogger Tequila said...

Thanks for your kind response, Nibras.

I'm afraid I do not share your equanimity with torture. Widespread acceptance of torture and extrajudicial murder quickly leads to a breakdown in discipline in any security unit. Treatment previously reserved for suspected terrorists soon becomes accepted technique for any prisoner, and then an instrument of control and terror rather than a tool for gathering information. Witness how quickly the abusers of Abu Ghraib moved from using MI techniques on suspected insurgents to simply punishing recalcitrant prisoners. Any future Iraqi state is going to face opposition of some type, not all of which will be of the violent or terrorist variety --- a state whose security forces are built on torture will likely respond with more of the same rather than anything we would identify as due process.

As for why the U.S. has not been able to stop the death squads --- that's a good question. Perhaps because Shahwani's IIS is unable to penetrate predominantly Shia/Iranian operations while at the same time battling the insurgency? Are we really that certain about how determined the Americans would be to gut the Interior Ministry and purge it of Badr/Iranian influence if that means angering SCIRI, which as you pointed out is key to Khalilzad's strategy of isolating Muqtada/Jafari?

My main point about the UIA is that it represents many groups beyond SCIRI & Dawa. I agree with you that it does represent the vast majority of Iraqi Shia --- and illustrates just how diffuse and divided the Shia political scene is, IMO.

3:10 PM, April 14, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of fragmentation, have you seen Iraq in Fragments yet? You should review it.

4:23 PM, April 16, 2006

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