Monday, December 6, 2010

Maliki's "de-Baathification" of Iraq's Security and Intelligence services

Among the many nuggets pulled out of the latest Wikileaks dump comes more evidence that Iraq's future is pretty grim.

As McClatchy reports, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki fired dozens of officers from the security and intelligence services early this year and replaced them with inexperienced political officers loyal to his Shiite Dawa party."  Maliki pulled this off under the official policy of "de-Baathification" = the legal elimination of former Baath officials from the new government.  But as US sources indicate, Maliki used this as a ruse to install Shii loyalists whom he can use to ensure his personal control over the State security services.  If that sounds familiar, it should.  Saddam Hussein made very effective use of the same tactic to ensure his control over the Mukhabarat, the much feared and seemingly ubiquitous security force that Saddam packed with his own Sunni - and tribal - loyalists.

And McClatchy also reported more recently on something that's been going on for a long while: the Maliki government's shabby treatment of the Sunni "Awakening" militia that was so instrumental (probably as effective as the much-vaunted Petraeus-Bush "Surge") in at least temporarily weakening "al-Qaeda" in Iraq - and in effect, enabling Maliki to get a better foothold in Baghdad.  Once more firmly ensconced, Maliki took steps to curb the Awakening fighters; the US basically left them hung out to dry; and now most of them, though promised jobs by the regime, are on the outside looking in, feeling abandoned, disrespected, angry.

And that might also make them more likely to turn for support once again to the kind of Sunni jihadist elements that they supported early during the US occupation, and that (according to the AP) are flowing back into Iraq, with an apparent surge in financial aid that, in the view of Iraqi officials, "reflects fears by Arab states over the growing influence of Iran's Shiite-led government over Iraq and its Shiite-dominated government." 
Last year, U.S. counterterrorism officials said the number of foreigners heading to Iraq had trickled from hundreds to "tens" in what they described as a severely weakened al-Qaida in Iraq.

But a Mideast counterterrorism official said an estimated 250 foreign fighters entered Iraq in October alone. He said they came through the Syrian city of Homs, a hub for Syrian Muslim fundamentalists that is run mostly by Tunisians and Algerians. Other fighters have come from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Yemen.

Additionally, the official said tens of millions of foreign dollars annually are funding the Iraqi insurgency, which has received about $5 billion in aid since 2007. The money comes from al-Qaida leaders, Muslims who want the U.S. to leave, and so-called 'Arab nationalists' who are eager for Sunni Muslims to regain power in Shiite-dominated Iraq.
And you can bet that a lot of that money is coming from Saudi Arabia, and not just from "jihadist" groups.  King Abdullah would love nothing more than to see the back of Iraq's current Shia-dominated regime.

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