Rumors of atrocities by Maliki's people from Karbala
Please recall that there was a recent report by INA news agency about groups (the report actually said "afwaj": battalions, or possibly the meaning is just "detachments") of "special forces" fighters, sent from Karbala to Basra, and that report referred to "martial law" and "the execution of anyone who fell under the hand of these special forces". That report said they were commanded by Dawa party people and in-laws of Maliki, although in a later VOI report, Karbala authorities insisted they are in the Army chain of command. This morning Azzaman reports:
Reports have said that mass executions have occurred in several regions of southern Iraq and Basra in particular, carried out by the battalions that Maliki had invited from Karbala, and these are battalions of guards that are stationed there [in Karbala] and the Sadrist current has accused them of human rights violations in Karbala.In keeping with the fragmentary nature of most of the current reporting on Basra, we don't find out any more about the reports of mass executions, or of the humanitarian situation in Basra. Instead, the reporter talks about the party-politics of the situation (a topic for another post), and then he quotes the Fadhila deputy Muhamadawi on the situation in Sadr City, after first noting that the US authorities have admitted helping the government blockade Sadr City:
[A local parliamentary deputy from the Fadhila party by the name of] Muhamadawi called for humanitarian agencies and the UN and the Red Crescent to aid children and women and old people that are trapped in areas of Basra on account of the fighting. He said there is a need for all kinds of humanitarian goods that have run out in three consecutive days of fighting...
Muhamadawi said the situation in Baghdad is extremely serious and could blow up at any moment. He said the Mahdi Army controls Sadr City, and the government forces, even with the aid of the Americans, are powerless to take it over.
[By contrast], a statement by the United Iraqi Alliance, which is now just the Supreme Council and Dawa, after the withdrawal by the Sadrists and Fadhila, said: "We bless this effort by the government to attempt to extend security and to put an end to the armed gangs in Basra and to the mayhem in all the provinces of Iraq without exception".