Monday, December 22, 2008

A bit of history

Mashraq Abbas writes in AlHayat about the Interior Ministry affair, where the system continues to throw up contradictory information, and he explains a bit of the history of this system, from the establishment of the sectarian-allocation system in the earliest days of the American occupation, through the resurrection of the Saddam-era concept of citizen-informants by the Americans and their partners in 2006.
Security and political leaks indicate the existence of fighting within the Interior Ministry on the one hand, and between it and other agencies on the other [as background to] the current outbreak of election-related fighting. While releases of Interior Ministry people have been quick and decisive on the intervention of the minister Bolani, there are questions about the scope of this kind of "malicious" charges, which have been made against innocent people over the course of recent years. Security officials themselves say these include charges of belonging to Baathist groups or militias--and these are mostly made against officials and citizens that are Shiites--and also charges of "cooperating with terrorist organizations", and these are mostly made against officials and citizens that are Sunni. In addition to charges of administrative and financial corruption [many of which are justified, but there are also] some that put innocent people behind bars.

And in addition to these struggles that flare up in the highest sanctum of the government and in the various security authorities, even before that the organization of malicious slander was converted into a tool for the liquidation of rivals within the lower administrative institutions, and this spread into commercial competition and the settling of personal accounts.

The Council of Ministers issued a couple of months ago a private law [private members bill?] whose main purpose, according to its proponents was to encourage people to cooperate with the security authorities, and to provide information terrorism and militias...

But "informants" in the Iraqi experience is something connected with the prior regime on the "citizens/security people" concept, and this continued in the 80s and 90s and developed a broad section of citizen spies and informants...

What happened was that this sector of informants, which was targeted after the fall of the old regime and the return of the parties opposed to it [the exile Shiite parties]--this sector was returned to service in a broad area starting in 2006 in the context of the new American strategy in Iraq, and the emergence of a need for them, to compensate for the lack of intelligence which was pointed to early on as a major cause of the collapse of security.

This wager by the government and the Americans on strengthening intelligence by supporting an organization that was lacking in any actual intelligence activity, early on facilitated the interaction with a greater number of informants and protecting them, even from charges of malicious slander that were later shown to be the case. And this system included the intelligence [sections] of the Ministry of National Security, of the Interior, of the Army, of the Baghdad Security Program and other security programs.
Bolani has alleged this kind of malicious slander-mongering, and although he hasn't named names, the journalist says electoral rivalry owing to his formation of the Constitution Party was "one of the immediate motivations" for this.
Iraqi law calls for the independence of the ministries and the military, and bans politicization. But this is in spite of the fact that their whole experience from the beginning has been on the model of sectarian allocation (Defence to the Sunnis; Interior and National Security to the Shiites; Chief of Staff of the Army to the Kurds). But the rivalry continues... and breaks out from time to time [as in this case].


The journalist adds a subsidiary point. He says
High level sources say that within the Interior Ministry, in addition to the active officers that have been appointed by Bolani since his appointment [as Minister of the Interior] in 2006, there are also senior officers that were named during prior ministries. Some of these have been transferred by Bolani to other ministries and agencies, bringing with them their personal enmities. But there are also some that remain [in the Interior Ministry] under the designation "function suspended", having been stripped of their privileges".


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