Sunday, May 04, 2008

American forces' militia policy in Diyala: Fostering civil war, or merely out of control?

AlHayat prints another article by its journalist Mohamed Al-Tamimi (who wrote the piece that was summarized earlier here) again quoting sources in Diyala province to the effect the Americans are exacerbating, not easing, sectarian and security tensions in and around the capital Baquba. He writes:
Sheikhs and security authorities criticized the proliferation of armed groups supported some by the American forces, and others by the government parties [that would be American allies Badr and Dawa], while meanwhile members of AlQaeda carried out a big military parade in northeastern Diyala.

Sheikh Azzam Mohamed Naji Al-Dulaimi, a leader of the Dulaim tribe in Khan Bani Saad, criticized "the proliferation of armed formations, and the creation of new ones on the argument they are for stabilizing the security situation in Diyala". He thinks "the behavior of the American forces is an affront to the wishes of the people of Diyala and its legal institutions, which [wishes] are for and end to the creation of armed groups".

A security authority who asked to remain anonymous attributed this creation of additional armed groups to "an attempt to keep [control of] the security portfolio, but this policy is leading, in the final analysis, to the cantonization [tajzi'a: partition, splitting] of the region and district of Baquba between militias affiliated with the American forces, and those affiliated with the [government] parties, and with the Awakenings, and with the police, and with the army. This has led to an uncertain security situation, given the fact that most of these groups include members of various different political groups, not to mention the infiltration of AlQaeda agents into their ranks". The security authority warned of "a steep escalation in violence that will include all entities in Diyala without exception, and particularly the Sunni tribes that have declared war on AlQaeda".
So the complaint of the Dulaim tribal leader and the security authority is that the Americans, instead of backing up local authority, have adopted a policy of creating new and additional armed formations, loyal to themselves, in order to try and keep control of the security situation, a policy that is having the effect of splitting the region into militia-based sub-regions, and in particular activates AQ thugs on whom the Sunni tribes have declared war.

The journalist then quotes the preacher of the Imam Ali Husseiniya in Baquba, Husein Musawi.
[He] accused the American forces of "stirring up sectarian differences between Sunni and Shiite residents in the area". He told AlHayat: "The campaign of arrests against members of the Sadrist trend, and the receipt by armed formations [composed of people] that were until recently in the ranks of AlQaeda and responsible for killings and kidnappings of persons innocent of sectarianism--the receipt by these armed formations of the security portfolio in a number of regions and districts--are measures that will work in the direction of aggravating relationships and re-introducing sectarian violence into Diyala.

Musawi warned of the bad outcome that will result from the activities of these forces against various sects and denominations. And he accused the "government parties of taking advantage of the government's decision to go to war against outlaw groups, to liquidate political competitors in the [coming] elections."
To summarize:

(1) AlDulaimi says the formation of new armed groups by the Americans is an affront to the population and the institutions of Diyala, who think the policy is destabilizing.

(2) The security source says (a) the Americans' aim is to keep control of the security portfolio; (b) one result is to cantonize the area depending on geographical reach of the variously-affiliated militias; (c) since the new groups include ex-AlQaeda people, this will result in particular escalation in violence between then and the Sunni tribes that have declared war on them.

(3) The preacher Musawi says the handing over by the Americans of security responsibilities to these new AQ-infiltrated groups is linked to the American campaign of arrests against members of the Sadr trend. And more generally he says the Maliki government's war on "outlaw groups" is creating a free-for-all atmosphere for political violence.

These warnings and accusations are in line with what this reporter wrote earlier, in the piece linked-to above.

They should be taken seriously because at worst they mean the Americans are using AQ people and sectarian policies to re-ignite Sunni-Shia violence; and at best they mean that the American forces' policy of hiring militias is out of control, because as far as the policy people in Washington seem to know, the issue now is whether and when to stop paying the Awakenings so as to force their integration into the government forces and extricate America from this responsibility, not whether it is a good idea to go on creating more American-sponsored militias.

4 Comments:

Blogger Tyler said...

A friend of mine is an active duty soldier in Anbar province. He wrote to me recently that the US is paying the awakenings groups to simply keep violence down temporarily in order to help McCain get elected, after which time they'll simply stop paying the awakenings groups, and let all hell break loose again. Not sure what to make of it, but wondered if anyone else had heard a similar theory.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Siun said...

The Senate Armed Services Comm last week unanimously approved legislation to go with the upcoming Supplemental to require Iraq to pay for reconstruction, security and "the Sons of Iraq" payrolls out of oil revenues. Pelosi said similar language would be included in the House version of the Supplemental. Rahm Emmanuel said that it was time for the Iraqis "to have some skin in the game." Aside from the horror of making Iraqis pay for the bombs we drop on them, this is a very bad move away from recognition of what is going on.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Shirin said...

This is a comment on an item posted 4/30. Sorry, but I am catching up after a month in Syria where Blogspot is blocked, and I gotta say this!

""It was these militants who initiated the engagement by attacking US soldiers."

No, it was the US government who initiated every single "engagement" in Iraq by committing aggression in invading and occupying the country.

A U.S. Army officer once claimed to me that after the initial invasion nearly all the U.S. military actions were defensive. I pointed out to him that when you aggressively invade and occupy a country you give up the right to claim you are defending yourself. Everything you do is part of that aggression, you have no business being there in the first place, and NOTHING you do there is defensive. It is the Iraqis, not the Americans, whose actions are defensive.

8:30 PM  
Blogger badger said...

welcome back.

on the other point, I guess it's possible Tyler's friend is hearing things possibly triggered by the legislation Siun mentioned, maybe with the theory that this will be timed to kick in right after the Nov election. Who's to say they're not right.

8:57 PM  

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