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
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 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
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
"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)