With Ali al-Fadhily
BAQUBA - The little-known city of Baquba is emerging as one of the hotbeds
of resistance in Iraq, with clashes breaking out every day.
The violence in this city 30 mi. northeast of Baghdad is also now spreading
elsewhere around Diyala province.
"The new waves of terror are now forming a variety that we predicted long
ago," a political leader in the city told IPS. "The Iraqi people have
complained to everyone, but naturally no one will do anything about it. We know
who is in charge and who is responsible and eventually who is to be dammed.
It is the government of the United States of America."
The local leader, speaking from his home in Baquba, said the situation in the
area was becoming dire in the face of the recent violence.
"The worst is the direct participation of the national security forces
in criminal acts, and the U.S. Army's sudden disappearance from the scene as
soon as those murderers show up," he said. Many have been killed, and hundreds
arrested in the province, he said.
The al-Tawafuq Sunni party has demanded a full investigation into the violence
in Baquba, and immediate release of the detained civilians. "We are sure
the arrests were made under sectarian flags and those detainees are innocent
farmers captured in their own plantations," the group said in a statement.
An Iraqi army colonel told reporters in Diyala last week that that U.S. troops
had arrested 10 Iraqi soldiers suspected of sectarian killings. There was no
official U.S. comment.
Iraqi MP Muhammad al-Dayni appeared on al-Jazeera television to say that Brig.
Gen. al-Kaabi, leader of the fifth division in charge of Diyala province security,
had led the arrest of 400 civilians. Hundreds of houses had been looted, he
said. Al-Dayni accused the parties in power of supporting such acts, referring
to the Shia parties in parliament.
The fighting has intensified now, but Baquba has long been a city of fierce
resistance to the occupation. Resistance groups have often frustrated the efforts
of the Multi-National Forces (MNF) and Iraqi security forces to bring the city
under their control.
Residents of Baquba told IPS that an Iraqi police brigadier-general had used
loudspeakers to announce dire warnings to residents.
"We were used to hearing our own government calling us terrorists, Saddamists
and Zarqawis before, but this man added new words to the vocabulary like bastards
and expressions of that sort," Abu Omar, a law student at Diyala University
told IPS. "Yet we were not surprised because we know he was just repeating
what his green-zone masters have always said."
Mazin al-Zaidy, a resident of Baquba, told IPS that the situation in Diyala
province could be the worst in Iraq because people of many ethnicities live
in the area. "The MNF and militias concentrate on clearing it of the Arab
Sunnis prior to any federalism plan."
Al-Zaidy said "there are Kurds, Shias, and Sunnis who share the province,
and that has to be altered for the benefit of the first two groups." Al-Zaidy
was referring to the towns Mendily, Jalowlaa, and surrounding areas that are
marked Kurdish on the Kurdistan map.
The influence of each group changes often. "Each day I wake up I don't
know who is in control of my city," said a religious sheik in Baquba who
asked to be referred to as Sheik Ahmed. "One day it is the Americans, the
next day a militia, the next day a resistance group."
Diyala province gets little media attention "because of the journalists'
fear of going in," said al-Zaidy.
The new violence has ripped apart old traditions, he said. "The people
of the province do not understand how these powers could turn it into a sectarian
city from a wonderful 1,400 years of community peace and intermarriages."
The U.S. military has announced meanwhile that bomb attacks in Baghdad have
hit an all-time high. The number of U.S. soldiers killed is now approaching
the 3,000 mark.
The number of Iraqi casualties runs into hundreds of thousands.
(Inter Press Service)