08/21/2005: Anything Still Hopeful as an Outcome???
This may be the beginning of the end of any Democratic Promises or Hopes for how Iraq is going to function as a society and country.
As I re-posted last week in Teetering?...or Tottering? Which Way Will This Break? and And More Good News…, this rose-colored bAdmin scenario of a stable, democratic, pro-US Iraq is not yet by any means certain or probable (and maybe never was.)
And while some people may think it’s unsupportive to report these observations – as if by stating the obvious realities, that’s tantamount to making these bad things happen, or rooting against the administration policies and goals. But I think it Unpatriotic NOT to examine (and critically) what is going on and the outcome of policy decisions which have resulted in thousands of lives lost and may not meet any of the promised end game strategies.
As reported in the Washington Post: Militias wrest control across Iraq’s north, south: Newly empowered Shiite, Kurdish forces hold mixed allegiances:
"Shiite and Kurdish militias, often operating as part of Iraqi government security forces, have carried out a wave of abductions, assassinations and other acts of intimidation, consolidating their control over territory across northern and southern Iraq and deepening the country's divide along ethnic and sectarian lines, according to political leaders, families of the victims, human rights activists and Iraqi officials.
While Iraqi representatives wrangle over the drafting of a constitution in Baghdad, forces represented by the militias and the Shiite and Kurdish parties that control them are creating their own institutions of authority, unaccountable to elected governments, the activists and officials said. In Basra in the south, dominated by the Shiites, and Mosul in the north, ruled by the Kurds, as well as cities and villages around them, many residents say they are powerless before the growing sway of the militias, which instill a climate of fear that many see as redolent of the era of former president Saddam Hussein.
Militias gain power, but authority unclear
The parties and their armed wings are sometimes operating independently, and other times as part of Iraqi army and police units trained and equipped by the United States and Britain and controlled by the central government. Their growing authority has enabled them to seize territory, confront their perceived enemies and provide patronage to their followers. Their rise has come because of a power vacuum in Baghdad and their own success in the January elections.
Since the formation of a government this spring, Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, has witnessed dozens of assassinations, claiming members of the former ruling Baath Party, Sunni political leaders and officials of competing Shiite parties. Many have been carried out by uniformed men in police vehicles, according to political leaders and families of the victims, with some of the bullet-riddled bodies dumped at night in a trash-strewn parcel known as The Lot. The province's governor said in an interview that Shiite militias have penetrated the police force; an Iraqi official estimated that as many as 90 percent of officers were loyal to religious parties.
‘There is no law, there is no order’
The Badr Organization, one of the most powerful militias in southern Iraq and blamed for many of the assassinations, denied any role in the killings. The head of the group in Basra, Ghanim Mayahi, said his organization was only providing "support and assistance" to the police through lightly armed militiamen. "There is no law, there is no order, and the police are scared of the tribes. Badr is not afraid, and it can face those threats."
In both northern and southern Iraq, the parties and their militias have defended their tactics as a way of ensuring security in an increasingly lawless atmosphere. In part, they have said, their power reflects their success in January's national and local elections, in which the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, along with the Shiite-led Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and other Islamic parties, won overwhelmingly in their respective regions.
But critics have charged that they are wresting control over security forces to claim de facto territory and authority, effectively partitioning Iraq even as representatives in Baghdad struggle to negotiate a permanent constitution. "We have a feeling that our Islamic brothers want power, regardless of the law and regardless of the state," said Rahi Muhajir, who leads the Communist Party in Nasiriyah, 130 miles north of Basra. "They want authority and they want to stay permanently..."
Karen on 08.21.05 @ 01:09 PM CST