Post-election sectarian logic causing fear of renewed violence
Zaid Al-Zubaidi writes in AlAkhbar about anxiety on the streets of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities over the security implications of the latest political development: namely Maliki's apparent move to ally with the Sadr trend in substitution for his prior alliance with the Supreme Council. Many have concluded that this means the return on the Mahdi Army, and already the result in some Sunni areas (writes Zubaidi) appears to be that non-takfiiri resistance groups have made alliances with AlQaeda affiliates to join ranks against the threat of sectarian attacks.
The mere possibility of a return at the present time of the officially frozen Mahdi Army, means the return of the specter of AlQaeda, because Sunni Arab areas feel the need for protection against the resurgent danger. And that has in fact led, in the face of the return to the streets of the men in black (death squads) and the opening of their operations in the heart of Baghdad, the night before last, with an attack on the "Ahlan wa Sahlan" hall, the kidnapping of a number of people there, and transporting them to an unknown location--in government vehicles.Al-Zubaidi reviews the arguments about responsibility, and recent announcements by the Interior Ministry about rogue police units (including recent arrests in connection with sectarian killings in 2006), but he adds:
Those announcements [about arrests of small groups of rogue officers] have practically no meaning at all compared with the announcement by the Interior Ministry a few days ago [Monday Feb 16] about the firing of 62,000 of its employees for connections with corruption, abuse of power, and associations with militias. That kind of a number illustrates the extent of the government's involvement in all of the violent sectarian operations in [Iraq] during the time of the occupation.For Al-Zubaidi, the basic point is about how the sectarian system works once it is set up and running. He writes:
Observers think that Maliki, who won the elections on the basis of renouncing sectarianism and the militias, has gotten in the habit of [merely] alternating his alliances with sects that have militia organizations, because he was originally allied with the Sadr trend, then he attacked them in cooperation with the Supreme Council, and now he is back in cooperation with the Sadr trend againsts that same Supreme Council.
For this reason, it is hard to be skeptical of the truth of information circulating on the streets, particularly in "Sunni districts", concerning agreements made with AlQaeda by a number of non-takfiiri resistance groups and by leaders of Awakening Councils, based on the need to join forces against a returning Mahdi Army. Agreements the gist of which is to permit members of AlQaeda to operate in their respective areas and not to report them or fight with them, in exchange for their not targeting local forces or the members of the Awakenings, and [in exchange for AQ agreeing] not to undertake operations against the Shia outside the framework of the militias, and to avoid friction with the foreign forces in the cities.