If you want war, nourish a doctrine. Doctrines are the most frightful tyrants to which men ever are subject...
William Graham Sumner
Original Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

November 22, 2007

Shi'ite Infighting Increases Instability

by Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail

BAGHDAD - Increasing conflict and finger pointing between leading Shi'ite political blocs are heightening instability in war-torn Iraq.

"It is said in the Arab world that if thieves were not seen while stealing, they would be seen while dividing the loot," Wayil Hikmet, an Iraqi historian in Baghdad told IPS.

"That is what goes for the accelerating collapse of the Iraqi political system that was made in the USA. The thieves of the Green Zone are now giving me and my colleagues good material to write down for the coming generations," Hikmet said, referring to new scandals floating to the surface of the political scene in recent days.

The Supreme Islamic Council in Iraq (SICI) led by Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, and the Sadr Movement led by anti-occupation cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are accusing each other of committing serious crimes against humanity in the southern parts of Iraq.

In early September, clashes between Sadr's Mehdi Army militia and the Badr Organization militia of SIIC erupted in the holy city of Karbala, 100 kilometers southwest of Baghdad.

Karbala, with a population of about half a million, is a holy city, particularly for the Shi'ites, as it is home to the tomb of Hussein ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

The shrine of Imam Hussein is a place of pilgrimage for many Shi'ite Muslims.

The clashes between the two powerful militias left at least 52 people dead and over 200 wounded.

"Hakim and Muqtada were brought to the scene by the Americans who employed the two ambitious clerics in order to fight side by side against any Iraqi resistance," Lukman Jassim, a former Baath Party member, told IPS in Baghdad.

"But it is well known in Iraq that the two groups cannot put up with each other because of the historic disputes between their fathers and grandfathers and the conflict between them over power in Iraq. It was another American mistake," Jassim explained.

Jassim overlooks the fact that there have thus far been two anti-occupation uprisings led by al-Sadr, but his comments nevertheless underscore the rising tensions between the two groups.

Bahaa al-A'raji, an MP with the Sadr movement, told journalists in Baghdad this week that his movement is being targeted by the SICI that dominates the Ministry of Interior. Many Sadr followers have been arrested and tortured by police loyal to the SICI in different parts of Iraq, al-A'raji said.

SICI operates militarily via the Badr Organization militia, which was created in Tehran in 1982 and has been armed, trained and advised by Iranian intelligence since then.

Recently in Baghdad, footage was displayed on many local TV stations showing a woman with cut lips accusing police of having tortured her and her two baby girls in Karbala.

"It is a crime against humanity committed by police for political reasons," Liwa' Smaissim, the spokesman for the Sadr Movement in Karbala, told IPS via telephone.

"The SICI is trying to eliminate our movement so that it controls the scene on its own," Smaissim said.

Accusations regarding the woman and her babies were aimed at a Major Ali of the Iraqi Police third Battalion in Karbala.

"This man and his battalion have committed hundreds of crimes under the flag of maintaining peace in the city," Smaissim told IPS, "our followers and other citizens were exposed to torture and many others were assassinated."

Al-A'raji told IPS that he contacted the Ministers of Interior and Defense to complain, but the two ministers told him that the third Battalion does not take orders from them.

"We are an official unit of the Iraqi police and naturally we take orders from the Minister of Interior," Major Ali, who was accused of the torture and other crimes against civilians, told IPS via telephone.

"The CD distributed of a woman and her babies been tortured is a fake and was made up by a 'certain group' for political reasons. I was off sick during the period of the presumed arrest of that family," Major Ali claimed.

"The third battalion is an official force of the Ministry of the Interior and Major Ali is targeted by a 'certain group' because he risked his life in order to reveal the hundreds of crimes they committed here and else where," an Iraqi police general, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS, stressing that, "This particular group has committed the ugliest crimes in the Iraqi history and we are determined to bring them all to court."

Iraqi police general's references to the Sadr movement show the now deep divisions between those who were allies not long ago.

"I believe what is being said by both sides," a general at the Ministry of Interior in Baghdad, speaking under terms of anonymity, told IPS.

"It is true that the Badr militia and the Mahdi Army have committed thousands of political crimes against civilians as well as looting the economy of the country all along the years of the US occupation to Iraq," he said.

The general added, "Evidence at the ministry show how terrible their behavior was, but it was a political will of all the Iraqi prime ministers, from Iyad Allawi, to Ibrahim Jaafari, to the current Prime Minister [Nouri al-] Maliki to conceal the facts for personal and political reasons. The Americans definitely knew what was going on, but they had their reasons to keep quiet about them too. It is the Iraqis who will pay their blood at the end of the day."

(Inter Press Service)

comments on this article?

  • Police Bombings Raise New Fears

  • Most NGOs in Iraq Losing Face

  • Fallujah Braces for Another Assault

  • Unrest Surfaces in Fallujah Again

  • Iraq: The Love Stories Are Gone

  • 'Special Weapons' Have a Fallout on Babies in Fallujah

  • Corruption Eats Into Iraqis' Food Rations

  • Five Years On, Fallujah in Tatters

  • Iraq: From One Dictator to Another?

  • Iraqis: 'Surge' Is a Catastrophe

  • More Bombing Creates New Enemies

  • Iraqi Police and Army Sidelined by Sunni Fighters

  • Iraqis 'Awake' to a New Danger

  • Iraq Less Violent and Hellish Only in Numbers

  • Killer of US Soldiers Becomes Hero for Iraqis

  • US-Backed 'Awakening' Forces Arouse New Conflicts

  • Looking to Security from Paper Police

  • 'Bad' Women Raped and Killed in Southern Iraq

  • In Iraq, Not Even the Hajj is Free of Corruption

  • Iraqi Widows Become the Silent Tragedy

  • Refugees Caught Between Deportation and Death Threats

  • A Tenuous 'Peace' in Anbar

  • Detentions Escalate in Diwaniyah

  • Executions Not Leading to Iraqi Reconciliation

  • Shi'ite Infighting Increases Instability

  • Fallujah Now Under a Different Kind of Siege

  • Baghdad: A Tale of One City, Now Two

  • Fewer Deaths in Iraq Bring No Reassurance

  • When Blackwater Kills,
    No Questions Asked

  • Assassination of Sheikh Shakes US Claims

  • Back to School, Back to Horror

  • No Refuge Within or Outside the Country

  • Fighting Among Shi'ites Adds to Violence

  • Clerics Begin to Take Over Iraq

  • Samarra Under US Attack

  • With Donkeys for Transport, All Is Well

  • Families of Iraqi Detainees Losing Hope

  • Fallujah Finds a False Peace

  • Another US Military Operation, More Unrest

  • Between the Two Rivers, Lack of Water Kills

  • Iran Ties Weaken Iraqi Government Further

  • A Nail in Maliki Government's Coffin?

  • Iraq a Little Easier to Occupy From the Air

  • In Iraq, Soccer Succeeds Where Politics Fails

  • In Iraq, Partition Fears
    Begin to Rise

  • Operation Arrowhead Becomes Fountainhead of Anger

  • Curfew-Bound Fallujah
    On the Boil Again

  • Iraqis Skeptical After Second Shrine Attack

  • Iraqis Suffer Through Summer Without Electricity

  • US Losing Ground Through Tribal Allies

  • Iraqi Lawmaker Confirms Kurd-Shia Clashes in Baghdad

  • In Iraq, Broken Lives and Broken Hearts

  • Anger Builds in Fallujah Over Security Crackdown

  • Sick of Iraq's Government

  • Kurds and Shia Fight for Power in Baghdad

  • Curfew Begins to Choke Samarra

  • Iraqis Blame US Occupation for Bloody Week

  • Basra Splits Between Warring Shi'ites

  • Now the South Erupts

  • Iraqis Search for Political Leadership
  • Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail write for Inter Press Service.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2017 Antiwar.com