Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Alleged 'Plotters' Arrested in Baghdad

The New York Times is reporting that 35 Iraqi officials from the Ministry of Interior had been arrested in a move to thwart a Ba'athist plot. It is also getting top billing on Drudge. The story was first carried by the Iraqi media.

Of course, I'm always happy when Ba'athists get busted.

But one of the lead conspirators is supposed to be Gen. Ahmad Abu Ragheef (spelled "Abu Raqeef" in the story) who serves as the head of internal affairs at the ministry, weeding out the corrupt cops, the militia members and Al-Qaeda infiltrators.

I've met Gen. Abu Ragheef on a number of occasions, he's a nice man, from a prominent family, who is as far from Ba'athist conspiracies from anyone I know. He also seems to be squeaky clean, and performs his job properly, which is why he's made so many enemies. He was arrested by U.S. troops not too long ago on trumped up charges, and I wouldn't be surprised if these latest accusations turn out to be more of the same.

UPDATE:

The Interior Ministry put out a statement denying the arrest of Abu Ragheef, or that he was involved with the group that was arrested. Thanks also to the commentator who pointed out that the Times later corrected its story about Abu Ragheef's arrest.

Not only that, but it seems that Abu Ragheef is a member of the committee investigating these arrested officers, so whoever told the Times that Abu Ragheef was one of the arrested officers must have been actively spreading disinformation. Thus the Times' source may be connected to the conspirators. Ba'athists had developed, and continue to operate, sophisticated disinformation channels that target foreign journalists (...Michael Ware comes to mind...), so it won't be much of a suprise if that is how and why Abu Ragheef's name got into the story.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

George Bush Avenue (Updated)

I think quite a number of Iraqis were embarassed by how their guest got treated today. Personally, I got angry. Very angry.

I will make a public promise: should I ever run into a certain reporter called Muntather al-Zaidi, presently of Al-Baghdadia TV, I will seriously consider beating the crap out of him. If I am successful in bringing him down, then my coup de grace shall be to take one of his shoes, preferably the one on the right, and stuff it in his mouth. I know that will be illegal. I am willing to face all the legal consequences, and the tribal ones too. But as I said, I will give it serious consideration. And should it come to light that someone had put him up to it, paid him or cajoled him into doing it, then they too will get the same treatment. I'm not cut out to be a thug, but I will try anyway.

See, I will forever remain indebted to President George W. Bush. He is my hero. He liberated Iraq, and that's how I will always see it. Had there been no President Bush, then Saddam would still be Saddam.

The usual suspects are ecstatic over what happened, especially the US-based media and Iraq-watchers. I would like to beat them all up too, but I think that would be a tad bit excessive. The best revenge is to make them watch Iraq's democracy strengthen and prosper. Today's images gave them a temporary high; a new Iraq, free and democratic, something they believed would never happen, will gnaw at their insides for the rest of their lives. I'll settle for that.

Give it twenty years or so, but a main thoroughfare in Baghdad will be called George Bush Avenue. Or maybe that's just the name of my driveway. Anyway, there will be a big sign and all.

In the meantime, the progeny and immediate family of Muntather al-Zaidi will have a new tribal classification: the Albu Ni'alaan (ألبو نعلان), of the Bani Qanadir (بنو قنادر).

UPDATE, Thursday, December 18, 2008:

Well now I feel sorry for the guy. It is one thing for me to beat him up and go to jail, and quite another for him to get beaten up in jail. Excessive violence against unarmed civilians who can't fight back in illegal in my book, and immoral if conducted by those in uniform. I'm also sure that al-Zaidi isn't hiding information that could save lives, so coersion isn't warranted in his case. The Iraqi government is in its full right in exercising its prerogative to prosecute him, still I think he should be let go. He's a jerk who's going to be fetted by other jerks for a couple of months (...expect a book contract too) then his life will be reduced to the familiar and tragic pattern of has-been-dom.

This whole incident does not diminish the immensity of what is being accomplished in Iraq, nor does it detract from President Bush's role in bringing these events about. Al-Zaidi belongs in a footnote somewhere, as do his promoters.