Saturday, January 13, 2007

Kurdish-speaking unit to participate, maybe in Sadr City, as Maliki "fills his quota"

It has been reported that at least two brigades from the Kurdish north are expected to participate in the new Baghdad security plan, and Aswat al-Iraq says today that the commander of one of those brigades has received orders to move his unit south to Baghdad, to start training in things like positioning of checkpoints and so on. The brigade commander said the biggest problem for his men is going to be the language barrier, since 95% of them speak only Kurdish and no Arabic. Elaph, for its part, cites what it calls the official newspaper al-Sabah for thinking that their assignment will be in Sadr City. (The Al-Sabah report says there will be a total of five brigades from the north and south, out of the total 18 Iraqi brigades participating in this).

The Elaph report goes on to repeat the official line that US forces will be in an auxiliary position to the Iraqi forces, which will take the lead, as has been explained by Prime Minister Maliki. Then the reporter has this to say about the overall shape of the Baghdad operation:
Leaked news reports about the security plan indicate the joint forces will go into neighborhoods and conduct detailed house-to-house searches, and there will be strict security cordoning around each entire district, so that no armed and wanted person can escape. The operation will permit no political intervention from any party. And the forces will not leave the respective districts until they have been cleared of armed persons.
Elaph describes the politics this way: Maliki is "relying" on the additional brigades from the north and from the south to "fill his political and military quota, following warnings to his government that the patience of the American people is running out..."

On another point, the reporter notes newspapers have been full of leaked reports about warnings by Maliki to Sadrists and other militias to disarm or face confrontation. Someone from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) told the reporter there are either direct or indirect talks between the Sadrists and Maliki which he described as looking for a satisfactory mechanism for disarming the Mahdi Army that would involve as a first step defining (or limiting or constraining: I'm not sure exactly what the meaning is here) the fighters, without exposing them either to the Iraqi or the American forces, which for a week now have been entering Sadr City each night looking for wanted persons or testing the reaction of the Mahdi Army, which, according to persons close to it, is under strict orders not to be exposed to (or to face or to resist) the Iraqi or American forces. This [process of nighttime searches] is something that Maliki is trying to develop in order to constrain (or limit: same problem-verb as above) the Mahdi Army in order to avoid a confrontation with it.


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