Splits Security In Diyala
By Ahmed Ali
09 August, 2007
Inter Press Service
BAQUBA, Aug 7 (IPS)
- Militia from the Shia organisation Badr have taken over the
police force in Diyala province north of Baghdad, residents say.
The government led by Prime
Minister Nouri al-Maliki is believed to have backed such infiltration,
and this has reportedly led to clashes with U.S. military leaders.
The Daily Telegraph in London
has reported that Maliki and General David Petraeus, U.S. commander
of the multi-national force in Iraq, have clashed over moves by the
U.S. general to arm some Sunni groups. Sectarian tensions between Sunni
and Shia Muslims has grown amidst Iraqi government policies seen as
supportive of Shias. Maliki is from the Dawa Party backed by Shia Iran.
In Baquba, 50km northeast
of the capital, and capital of Diyala, residents say the Shia Badr Organisation,
the armed wing of the politically dominant Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council
(SIIC), has been dominant in the province since the early months of
The Badr Organisation managed
to fill leadership positions in city and province, while Sunni Iraqis
remained largely unrepresented.
In this set-up, many sectarian
killings have been carried out by the Badr Organisation, often under
cover of the local police, residents told IPS.
The SIIC and the Dawa Party
of the Prime Minister are politically affiliated. Maliki is secretary-general
of the Dawa Party, and spent time in exile in Iran after leading insurgent
groups against former president Saddam Hussein.
Maliki came to be Prime Minister
after political pressure from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
and former British foreign secretary Jack Straw forced former Iraqi
prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, also from the al-Dawa Party, to resign.
Residents of this violence-plagued
city told IPS that it is common for Iraqi police and army forces, most
of whom are militiamen with the Badr Organisation, to raid homes of
Sunnis during the night, and take away men who are later found dead
in the street.
As a result, groups have
begun to set up blocks to prevent police patrols from entering their
districts at night. There have been several clashes in these districts
between residents and people wearing police uniforms attempting to enter.
"All the attacks on
the Iraqi police and army have been a reaction to the sectarian orientation
of the police and Iraqi army," Ali Juma'a, a retired Iraqi army
officer told IPS. "They (Badr Organisation affiliated Iraqi police)
targeted the officers of the previous Iraq army, military pilots who
took part in the Iraq-Iran war, members of the Ba'ath party (of Saddam
Hussein) and others."
"Police vehicles are
often accompanied by civilian cars," a resident said, declining
to give his name. "These cars are driven by civilians who are new
to the city, we never saw them here in the past." Many residents
say they have seen such cars at the police headquarters in Diyala.
The IPS correspondent saw
one such car near an Iraqi Army checkpoint – the car like others
that residents describe, was a 1993-94 Toyota super saloon. In the back
seat were two blindfolded civilians with their hands tied behind their
Day after day, trust in the
Iraqi government and its security forces diminishes. This is in the
face of increasing popular support for the Iraqi resistance. Local support
for the resistance, particularly in Sunni areas, has risen as resistance
groups began to protect residents from Badr Organisation death squads.
The death squads are notorious
for using checkpoints to look at identity cards of drivers, who are
then disappeared if they are of the 'wrong' sect.
The chief commander of police
is from Khirnabat village whose residents are all Shia. The commander
was nominated by the SIIC.
"Coalition forces received
complaints about the checkpoint at Jamhoriya Bridge (in the centre of
Baquba, 100 metres from the police headquarters), and later they found
a prison in the villages Khirnabat and Huwaider (also a Shia village)
and freed all the Sunni prisoners," local resident Hadi Hassan
IPS spoke with a Sunni man
named Ammar al-Samaraee who had been arrested at the checkpoint and
sent to Huwaider village. His father is a well-known figure in the community
and managed to have Ammar released after paying 15,000 dollars in ransom.
Ammar suffered a broken shoulder and bruises up and down his body.
A Sunni man held prisoner
inside the central prison for Diyala province spoke with IPS on condition
of anonymity. "There were more than 250 prisoners with me in the
prison and all of them were Sunni except one man named Hussein, who
was Shia, and was charged with killing his nephew."
Shia men who were imprisoned
would often be freed by a Shia clerk at the prison, he said.
"The entire Iraqi police
department for Diyala province is run and controlled by the SIIC and
not by the government," the former prisoner added. "And 95
percent of the staff are Shia."
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