Friday, September 05, 2008

Mahdi warns of the effects of militarization (in Iraq that is)

Here's what Adel Abedl Mahdi (vice president of Iraq and a senior Supreme Council politician) said on AlArabiya on Thursday, according to the Aswat alIraq summary, about the danger of a military coup:
Giving a major role to the army in the resolution of political questions is a problem in any country. And for that reason we should be on our guard against the occurrence of a military coup in Iraq--on account of [the prevalence of] centralized and military training, for all of my respect for the military.
And he elaborated on the reasons for his concern, as follows:
In Iraq, what we have is a type of askara (literally, military encampment) and particularly so in the light of the fight against terrorism and against the armed militias, which concentrates on the military and intelligence aspects.
And he said:
The role of the Iraqi armed forces and security forces should be limited to the tasks that are placed on their shoulders at the appropriate places [meaning in the appropriate circumstances], and subject to specific controls, given that the political process is conditional on the military being under political leadership--so that Iraq does not return to its prior climate of coups.
He is right, of course, (not to mention the fact that he could be talking about America itself, when it comes to the effects of militarization).

But particularly in Iraq, under the rubric of military solutions of political questions, it is worth remembering the "Diyala incident" where head of the provincial security committee (an ally of the local Awakenings) was kidnapped by some kind of a "special forces" operation whose so-called "chain of command" has never been explained; and similarly the Sadr City incident in which senior American "diplomatic" and military persons were killed while supervising the political takeover of a local council from Sadrists to anti-Sadrists. But more particularly Adel Abdel Mahdi's remarks were made on the eve of the turnover of security responsibilities in al-Anbar province to the Iraqi armed forces, without any political resolution of the question of the Awakenings, the obvious danger being that these political questions would once again be handed over to the military for a military solution. His point being that if this process goes on unchecked, the trend is to military decision-making, military control, and eventually military coup.

The Americans are of course adamantly opposed to this kind of thing, given their devotion to the democratic process, and it is pure coincidence that the victims of these operations are without exception those groups thought to harbor militant opponents of the occupation itself. After all, haven't we been hearing on a daily basis about the concerns the Americans have about Maliki's overconfidence, and so on and so forth? And since all of those reports originate with the American officials themselves, who are persons of unquestioned integrity, and are passed on to us by persons known for their fiercely independent judgment, it is a truth that can hardly be doubted. Pre-2003, it could hardly be doubted that Iraq under Saddam was a threat to world peace, and had to be brought down by America; that following the American invasion it became clear that it was in the nature of Iraqi society that there would inevitably be a protracted civil war, to be mediated by America. Now it is equally clear that Maliki is another threat that the Americans will have to stand up to (and in the process stay in Iraq just a little longer) . These are the kinds of overpowering truths that are formed by the consensus of the American establishment, and it would be foolhardy to question them (except of course in retrospect).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or Mahdi is trying to explain the attempt to disband the Awakening Councils.

11:39 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Right. Or at least "explain" in the sense of pointing out this is part of the dangerous process of militarization. Trying to distance himself, in other words, from the process Maliki is presiding over. That's how I read it.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"should be on our guard against the occurrence of a military coup in Iraq--on account of [the prevalence of] centralized and military training, for all of my respect for the military."

He could be talking about questionable loyalty within the military. Its no secret that US training of the ISF sought to emphasize and inspire such loyalty to occupation trainers and forces that shepherded the institutional structure of the force itself. When people like Steve Biddle start circulating rumors about a military coup, it could very likely be a warning to Maliki that the US might have the upper hand within the ISF and could, if necessary precipitate a military coup against him. Veiled metaphors indeed.

1:09 AM  
Blogger badger said...

I see what you mean. (I notice Sam ended his post today also with a reference to the question of loyalties within the security forces--without however mentioning the Americans in that connection...) See also the following post, where an Iraqi columnist has another take on this.

9:54 AM  

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