These are todays main security developments in Irak. Translated and summarised from Arabic. In particular you should read about the security situation in Diyala. Below the fold you’ll find a variety of English language reports and analyses from international sources.
The articles from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are particularly worth your while as is the round up report from Xinhua (China). There are also several reports on Britain’s role in looting Iraki oil.
There’s a report on how British wounded soldiers are neglected by Yankee Poodle Tony’s government, no doubt my American readers will be relieved to here that it’s not Just Walter Reed. And a report from the observer headed ‘Smart’ rebels outstrip US. A lot of worthwhile reading fro you today – unfortunately.
Main security developments Iraq on Sunday March 11 2007 reported in Arabic by Aswat Al Iraq (Aswat al Iraq have published an English translation of this report. There are no significant differences between the English and Arabic versions. The text below is from the English version:)
- Falluja- Unknown gunmen waged on Sunday an attack with RPGs and small arms at a U.S. base in central Falluja, while mortar rounds were fired at another U.S. base in al-Saqlawiyah district, 15 km north of Falluja, eyewitnesses said.
- Basra- A man was killed and his son was wounded on Sunday when U.S. soldiers opened fire at their car while driving on the highway in west of the southern Iraqi city of Basra, a police source said.
- Mosul- A gunman was killed and another was arrested when clashes erupted at noon on Sunday with police forces in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, a police source said.
- Hit- An explosive charge went off near a joint U.S. and Iraqi vehicle patrol in Hit city, west of Baghdad, damaging a vehicle, an eyewitness said.
- Basra- Five Shiite pilgrims coming from Karbala were killed on Sunday morning in a road accident near the southern Iraqi city of Basra, a security source said.
- Falluja- An explosive charge detonated on Sunday near an Iraqi army vehicle patrol in west of Falluja, 45 km west of Baghdad, damaging a vehicle, a security source said.
- Kut- An explosive device went off on Sunday near a Shiite party office in north of Kut city, 180 km southeast of Baghdad, with no reports of casualties, a security source said.
- Mosul- A group of thieves who stole four trucks loaded with vegetables and fruits coming from Syria was arrested, according to a security source in Mosul, 402 km north of Baghdad.
- Baghdad- Fifteen people were killed and 20 others wounded in a car bomb that targeted a vehicle carrying pilgrims returning home from Karbala where they had commemorated the arbaeen, or the anniversary of the 40th day after the death of Imam al-Hussein Ibn Ali, an Iraqi police source said on Sunday.
- Baghdad- A gunman was killed and 77 suspected militants were arrested by Iraqi security forces in several areas in Baghdad, during the past 24 hours, under the Baghdad law-imposing plan, the Baghdad operations command said on Sunday.
- Baghdad- Five Iraqi civilians were killed and 15 others wounded on Sunday in a bomb blast on a bus in eastern Baghdad, where another explosive device was also defused, an Iraqi police source said.
- Diala- At least five people were killed and ten others wounded when an explosive charge detonated near a bus carrying construction workers in northern Diala, a security source said.
- Mosul- At least four people were killed and two others wounded in a blast that targeted a Sunni party office in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, a source at the Iraqi Islamic Party said on Sunday.
British forces have handed over their base in the Shatt Al-Arab hotel in Basrah to local forces. A British patrol opened fire on a policeman and his son last night while they were in their car. The killing took place near the Basra International Airport intersection 20 km north-west of Basra. The incident resulted in the killing of the policeman his son is seriously wounded.
In Mosul one green zone government policeman died in a gun fight with fighters resisting the American occupation. A group of hijackers who intercepted a food convoy of 4 trucks coming from Syria were caught within minutes of the hijacking in al-Sinaa. (Sounds like they were beginners – markfromireland) Also in Mosul a bomb exploded targeting a green zone government army patrol nobody hurt.
Four people were killed and two others injured by the bomb that targeted the Islamic Party Mosul branch headquarters according to Dr. Mohamed Shaker Ghanam, three of the dead were guards.
In Anbar a joint Amercian occupation/green zone government patrol was bombed near Hassania 3 kilometers west of Hit there were casualties according to the eyewitness report (The area where this bombing took place is on the old international road going to Syria there are a number of small villages extending longitudinally along the Euphrates River valley. They don’t like their country being occupied by foreign troops and make their displeasure felt by doing their not inconsiderable best to blow, shoot or just plain blo them up at slightest opportunity, markfromireland)
In Amiriyat al-Fallujah a village 20 km south of Fallujah a bomb targeting green zone government troop personnel carriers destroyed one vehicle completely and damaged another. There are known to be casualties. the American base in Fallujah was attacked just before sunset by an armed group using RPGs the American base north of Saqlawiyah was attacked by a mortar barrage. The report points out that it is often difficult to determine the volume of losses from such attacks and that the Americam military announce daily some of the losses that occur during these armed attacks. Also in Falluja American occupation troops have seized a diercrtorate of education building for use as a sniper post and raided the general hospital. They left the hospital after two hours without detaining anyone. (What you have to understand about “hearts and mind” stuff when done the American way is that it leads dierctly to lots more people in Irak deciding that the only good American is a dead one and acting accordingly - markfromireland).
In Wasit the local HQ of the Virtue Party in Suwayrah was bombed today, no loss of life but the building is in bits. The Virtue Party are a component of the United Iraqi Alliance that has 15 seats in the ruling UIA coalition of 128 seats and announced their withdrawal from the coalition last week.
There’s a fairly lenghty report on the security situation in Diyala here. I’ll summarise the main points. Residents of Muqdadiya complain that a combination unemployment and the lack of access to food because of the security situation are causing them severe hardship. Food allocated to them under ration card system has not reached them in five months, and access to cash is difficult because banks are nonfunctional or closed for fear of an armed robbery, staff members members not being paid, and fear of abduction amongst bank employees. and retirees.
The report quotes one resident as saying that they hadn’t received either welfare payments or food and the reforms in the ration card system has increased the prices of foodstuffs and the market priceis were very high. The report quotes a source government source as saying that the reason for the late arrival of materials and food was the fear of many truck owners of being attacked or abducted. And that the areas around:
were particularly affected. More than 15 truck drivers have recently been abducted and or killed in attacks. (Baquba is 56 km north of Baghdad,Muqdadiya district is north-east of Baquba.)
In Diyala today a bomb targeting a bus carrying construction labourers exploded inBaladruz district north of Baquba the blast left ten dead and ten others woundedd.
Karbala a bomb targeting a group of returning pilgrims in a car exploded 100km north of Karbala, the bombing was followed by intensive gunfire, no casualties.
A civilian was injured by a bomb exploded in Al-Huwayjah, several bodies (number not specified) bearing marks of torture have been found South of Kirkuk.
In Baghdad the suicide bomber who detonated his payload as a bus carrying pilgrims returning from Karbala stopped to let passengers off near the al-Aarsat crossroads in the central Baghdad neighborhood of al-Karrada is now known to killed 15 people and wounded 20 others according to this update from Aswat Al Iraq (Later reports are giving the toll as 32 dead, I expect this toll to go higher - markfromireland.) All access to the green zone, and entry and exit by those with business there was blocked by American occupation troops searching the green zone for a bomb believed to have been planted inside the zone. The Iraqi judicial authorties have denied that the judge who presided over the trial of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and six of his aides has sought asylum in Britain.
Green zone government security forces killed one gunman in al-Mansour and arrested 77 suspected militants in various parts of the capital over the past 24 hours according to a statement made by the green zone government three security service personnel were wounded in a combat mission, three bombs were defused in
- Al Mansour
the statement added.
ends Arabic coverage international coverage below
People’s Daily Online — Roundup: Much-anticipated security conference ends with limited results
A one-day security conference aimed at seeking solutions to Iraq’s deteriorating situation ended with limited results in Baghdad on Saturday.
In an emotional opening speech, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki urged neighboring countries and other countries to refrain from interfering in his country’s internal affairs and to support his government to give a success to the ongoing political process and bring security to the war-torn country.
The delegations were mostly represented by ambassadors in Iraq, but the United States sent David Satterfield, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s top adviser on Iraq, along with its Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.
At a news conference after the meeting, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said that the talks were “positive and constructive. ”
He said that the envoys had agreed on the establishment of three technical committees concerning security cooperation, Iraqi refugees and energy.
But the participants failed to agree on the date and venue of a following-up ministerial-level meeting, he said. Iraq hoped to host the meeting, but some proposed that the conference be held in Cairo or Istanbul.
Also on Saturday, several bombings rocked Baghdad, killing at least 12 and wounding dozens, including a mortar attack near the venue of the security conference. The latest violence highlights the deteriorating security situation in the capital, though U.S. and Iraqi authorities have launched a new security plan, widely seen as the last chance to restore peace and stability in the war-torn country. Source: Xinhua
S. Korean troops asked to stay longer in Iraq
IRBIL, Iraq, March 10 (Yonhap) — A senior Iraqi regional government official on Saturday expressed hope that thousands of South Korean troops will continue to stay here. The Zaytun Division may complete its mission here as early as the end of this year and return home. Zaytun means olive in Arabic
Source: YONHAP NEWS
Turkey Reaffirms Stance on PKK
DIYARBAKIR, Turkey, 11 March 2007 — A top Turkish general yesterday reaffirmed Ankara’s right under international law to send troops into northern
Iraq to crush Turkish Kurdish rebels hiding there if it saw fit. The comments by Gen. Ilker Basbug, head of Turkey’s land forces, came as Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki urged all neighboring countries, including Turkey, attending a conference in Baghdad to settle their regional disputes through dialogue.
“Turkey can always take measures against the terrorist organization in northern Iraq if our military needs require it … under international law,” Basbug told reporters in Diyarbakir, largest city in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast.
His hints at military action were not new but their timing reflects Turkish military fears of an upswing in violence by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) as spring arrives.
Basbug said he believed up to 3,800 PKK rebels were hiding in northern Iraq, mostly in the mountainous areas bordering Turkey. When the snows melt, many cross into Turkey every year to stage attacks on both military and civilian targets.
Analysts say a full-blown Turkish invasion of northern Iraq is highly unlikely but do not discount commando raids or airstrikes, especially as politicians feel the need to appear tough on terrorism ahead of this year’s elections. Basbug warned PKK supporters against using the upcoming festival of Newroz, celebrated by Kurds across the region, to whip up violence. Newroz has sometimes led in the past to clashes between security forces and separatist protesters.
Ankara blames the PKK for the deaths of more than 30,000 people since the group launched its armed campaign for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984. Basbug also stressed Turkey’s continued support for Iraq’s territorial and political unity. Ankara fears Iraq’s Kurds want to create their own independent state in northern Iraq, which could in turn fan separatism among its own Kurdish population.
Source: Turkey Reaffirms Stance on PKK
Threat of war looms over Kurdish heartland -DAWN – International; March 11, 2007
By Mohammed A. Salih
QANDIL MOUNTAINS (Iraq-Iran-Turkey): The fragile quiet in this no-man’s-land is broken by a young fighter shooting into the air at a regular morning ceremony to “commemorate martyrs”.
The firing is more than ceremonial. A new threat of war is looming in this mountain range in the north of Iraq, cutting into Turkey and Iran.
All three countries have large Kurdish populations, and the governments of all three are worried about a Kurdish uprising for a separate homeland. Only in Iraq do Kurds have an autonomous region of their own. Over the past few months Turkey and Iran have been threatening to sweep positions held by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party of Turkey (PKK) off these mountains. They accuse the PKK of launching cross-border operations from Iraq’s soil into Turkey and Iran.
The PKK announced unilateral ceasefire on Oct 1 last year, symbolically on world peace day, but it was rejected by the Turkish government.
“We don’t want to be forced to fight, and are still expecting a positive response to our ceasefire message from the relevant parties,” Rostam Joudi, member of PKK’s leadership council said.
“Otherwise, we are quite prepared to counter any (Turkish) military operation. We can raise the level of the conflict…and it may get bigger than Iraq and Arab-Israeli conflicts.”
PKK is on the terror list of Turkey, the United States and the European Union. The group’s fight for a Kurdish homeland in Turkey since the early 1980s has claimed more than 35,000 lives.
The prospect of a conflict between PKK and Turkish troops has worried Iraqi Kurds who fear that a Turkish attack on PKK bases may lead to long-term occupation of their Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.
It was mainly Iraqi Kurds who persuaded PKK to announce the ceasefire, hoping it would open the channel for diplomacy. But the move backfired; Turks argued that it was a sign of Iraqi Kurds’ relations with PKK.
Turkish army chief Gen. Yasar Buyukanit accused Iraqi Kurdish political parties last month of being “the biggest supporter of the PKK at the moment.” Iraq’s Kurdish political parties are now uncertain how to deal with the PKK. Kurdistan regional president Massoud Barzani told the Turkish NTV channel that his forces will not simply stand by should Turkish troops enter northern Iraq. The Kurdistan regional government also rejects military action against the PKK guerillas; a Kurd attack on Kurds will be strongly opposed by the public.
PKK leaders are expecting a Turkish military invasion in spring. They expect the attack to have limited scope in terms of “the time and area of operation.”
Jaw Jaw Is Better Than War War’
Sir Cyril Townsend, Arab News
The Iraq Study Group under the joint chairmenship of James Baker, secretary of state under President Bush Sr., and Lee Hamilton, the former vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission, suggested in their 100-page report that one way to help stabilize Iraq was through political cooperation with countries such as Iran and Syria. British Prime Minister Tony Blair strongly supported them. Challenged over the report’s controversial suggestion, James Baker said last November:
“It is not appeasement to talk to your enemies.”
He reminded his questioner that during the long years of the Cold War America had always been prepared to talk to the Soviet Union. In the end this produced highly favorable results.
The White House has added to America’s problems by backing Israel over the top bombing of Lebanon last summer and ignoring the plight of the Palestinians for years. Iran believes its position is now a very strong one and it is America, not Iran, which needs to offer concessions.
The official Iranian point of view, as expressed by Ali Larijani, the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, is that:
“We believe Iraq’s security is related to all its neighboring countries, and they have to help settle the situation.”
Yes, but…! While I doubt Iran wishes Iraq to collapse altogether, the Iranians have good reasons for making life tough for the Americans in Iraq. First, of course, Iran wants to pursue its nuclear ambitions and I have little doubt what they might be. They know America is trying to put on the brake firmly. Second, it deplores the total support by the United States for Israel and considers Hezbollah and Hamas crucial allies in this regard.
Third, and tied to the previous point, there is a big struggle — so far reasonably peacefully — for the future path of Lebanon, and Tehran and Washington are in the opposite corners.
These regional conferences produce a problem we should be watching. Both the Kurds and the Shiites fear attempts will be made to reduce the significant gains they have made since the ousting of Saddam Hussein.
I think both need to make some concessions in the interests of Iraq as a whole, and that will be difficult for them.
It is at times like this that we should take encouragement from Winston Churchill’s famous saying: “Jaw Jaw is better than War War”. It really is — for Iran and America
Source: ‘Jaw Jaw Is Better Than War War’
Foreign Office helped set up Iraqi oil deals
Ambassador passed ‘roadmap’ report to Baghdad By Tim Webb Published: 11 March 2007
The British Government intervened to help UK and US energy giants in their attempts to secure lucrative contracts to exploit Iraq’s ruined oilfields.
The Foreign Office delivered a report by the International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC) – a Washington-based think-tank backed by a host of multinationals, including oil companies such as Shell and BP – to Iraqi officials in Baghdad, it has emerged.
The British ambassador to Iraq formally sent the “road-map” study on the Iraqi oil industry to the then Iraqi minister of finance, according to documents seen by The Independent on Sunday. The study recommended the Iraqi government sign long-term production-sharing agreements with foreign oil companies.
Emails between civil servants also showed that the Foreign Office helped the ITIC secure an audience with senior officials from the Iraqi Oil Ministry so that it could present its report.
The ITIC hosted a conference in Beirut in January 2005 to give a formal presentation to Iraqi ministers. Executives from BP, Shell, ChevronTexaco, the Italian oil company ENI and its French rival Total attended.
A diplomat from the Foreign Office, who helped the ITIC further its relationship with the Iraqis, was also present.
The story of the envoys’ involvement was revealed on Friday night by the Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera as part of its People and Power documentary series.
Greg Muttitt, the co-director of the campaign group Platform, said: “There is no question that the British Government is exploiting its position as an occupation power to push its own oil interests and those of multinational companies.”
Kim Howells, a Foreign Office minister, told the Al-Jazeera programme that the accusation that the British government was influencing Iraq’s oil industry was “paranoia gone completely loopy”.
Separately, the IoS has learnt that the ITIC is planning another key conference to be attended by oil company executives and senior Iraqi government figures.
They will discuss in greater detail the tax regime that will accompany the long-awaited hydrocarbon law, which should be approved by the Iraqi parliament by the summer. The ITIC chairman, Daniel Witt, stressed that it would be an “educational programme” rather than an opportunity for oil majors to lobby Iraqi ministers.
Asked if the Foreign Office had helped organise the new conference, pencilled in for May, he replied: “Not yet. I do not know if they will.”
He said that the British Government’s support for the ITIC was in line with its policy of supporting an open investment policy. “It’s not unusual for human beings who share common views to work together and help each other. I would not view it as wider co-operation pushing a common agenda.”
But Mr Witt admitted the Foreign Office had helped the ITIC gain access to more senior Iraqi officials.
Production-sharing agreements allow companies to make vast profits once they have recouped their costs. Because of the controversy caused by the inclusion of the term in early drafts of the hydrocarbon law, it has now been dropped. It is not clear what will replace this.
BG spearheads move to tap Iraq’s riches
BG Group, the British oil and gas explorer, could become the first major Western energy company to invest in Iraq.
It is understood that representatives from BG recently visited the northern region of Iraq in a move to assess the opportunities.
Despite the ongoing hostilities, Iraq has long been on the radar of the world’s majors who are under pressure to replenish their oil and gas reserves. Iraq is not only blessed with the world’s largest petroleum reserves after Saudi Arabia but much of it is simple to extract from the ground.
BG is believed to be interested in any opportunities for gas exploration; the Kurdish-controlled north, which has escaped much of the violence of the south, is home to about a fifth of Iraq’s total reserves.
Since 2003, there have been more than 380 attacks on Iraq’s oil assets: pipelines blown up, terminals set on fire and key personnel killed. Although some of oil majors have privately identified areas in the country where they would like to explore, especially in the south, none have so far taken the plunge.
Until now, only minnows, such as Norway’s DNO, and Aim-listed companies Petrel Resources and Sterling Energy, have signed deals. DNO is the first western group drilling for oil after striking a deal with the Kurdistan regional authorities two years ago.
‘Smart’ rebels outstrip US
Top American generals make shock admission as Iraq leader pleads with neighbouring countries to seal off their borders
The US army is lagging behind Iraq’s insurgents tactically in a war that senior officers say is the biggest challenge since Korea 50 years ago.
The gloomy assessment at a conference in America last week came as senior US and Iraqi officials sat down yesterday with officials from Iran, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia in Baghdad to persuade Iraq’s neighbours to help seal its borders against fighters, arms and money flowing in. During the conference the US, Iranian and Syrian delegations were reported to have had a ‘lively exchange’.
In a bleak analysis, senior officers described the fighters they were facing in Iraq and Afghanistan ‘as smart, agile and cunning’.
In Vietnam, the US was eventually defeated by a well-armed, closely directed and highly militarised society that had tanks, armoured vehicles and sources of both military production and outside procurement. What is more devastating now is that the world’s only superpower is in danger of being driven back by a few tens of thousands of lightly armed irregulars, who have developed tactics capable of destroying multimillion-dollar vehicles and aircraft.
By contrast, the US military is said to have been slow to respond to the challenges of fighting an insurgency. The senior officers described the insurgents as being able to adapt rapidly to exploit American rules of engagement and turn them against US forces, and quickly disseminate ways of destroying or disabling armoured vehicles.
The military is also hampered in its attempts to break up insurgent groups because of their ‘flat’ command structure within collaborative networks of small groups, making it difficult to target any hierarchy within the insurgency.
The remarks were made by senior US generals speaking at the Association of the US Army meeting at Fort Lauderdale in Florida and in conversations with The Observer. The generals view the ‘war on terror’ as the most important test of America’s soldiers in 50 years.
‘Iraq and Afghanistan are sucking up resources at a faster rate than we planned for,’ one three-star general said. ‘America’s warriors need the latest technology to defeat an enemy who is smart, agile and cunning – things we did not expect of the Soviets.’
Other officers said coalition rules of engagement were being used against the forces fighting the insurgency. ‘They know when we can and cannot shoot, and use that against us,’ said one officer, reflecting the comments of US soldiers in the field. Another said recent video footage of an ambush on a convoy, posted on the internet, was evidence that insurgents were filming incidents to teach other groups about American counter-measures.
Read full report here: ‘Smart’ rebels outstrip US | World | The Observer
Scandal of treatment for wounded Iraq veterans
A shocking picture of neglect and the appalling treatment of wounded British troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan emerged last night in a remarkable series of letters from soldiers’ families obtained by The Observer.
The sheaf of complaints, passed on by deeply alarmed senior military sources, claims that soldiers have been deprived of adequate pain relief and emotional support, and in some cases are unable to sleep because of night time noise in the NHS facilities caring for them.
The NHS last night said that it had launched an inquiry into the complaints.
One letter sent to the MoD and NHS managers reveals how the youngest British soldier wounded in Iraq, Jamie Cooper, was forced to spend a night lying in his own faeces after staff at Birmingham’s Selly Oak Hospital allowed his colostomy bag to overflow. On another occasion his medical air mattress was allowed to deflate, leaving him in ‘considerable pain’ overnight despite an alarm going off.
Another complaint alleges that one serviceman suffered more than 14 hours in agony without pain relief because no relevant staff were on duty. Others claim that supplies of pain relief have run out on wards where injured troops are being cared for, and that in one instance a geriatric patient tried to climb into an injured soldier’s bed by mistake.
Months after the row over mixed military-civilian wards, the new revelations open potentially more serious allegations concerning the level of treatment being provided to seriously injured troops. The revelations also follow the recent scandal surrounding conditions at the Americans’ flagship domestic military hospital, the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington, which prompted President George Bush to order a review of the nation’s military hospitals.
An MoD spokesman said: ‘The decision to care for military patients within specialist NHS units was driven by medical advice – the severity and complexity of modern military injuries requires immediate access to the highest levels of specialist medial and nursing care, which can only be found in a few large hospital complexes in the UK, such as Birmingham.’
A spokesman for University Hospital Birmingham Trust, which includes Selly Oak, said: ‘While we can not comment on individual cases the type of injuries that soldiers sustain and that we treat are very complex – therefore their pain control is very complex.
‘We investigate all complaints and some of the complaints including the Cooper family’s are being investigated.’
The blogger, the refugee, the exile and the journalist – the lives of ordinary Iraqis (3 pages)
Ahmed Khalid, 21, is from the Baghdad suburb of Al Adamiya, a wealthy neighbourhood on a bend in the Tigris that has been described as Iraq’s answer to Richmond-on-Thames. Before the war, its villas were the grace-and-favour homes of many of the most senior figures in Saddam Hussein’s regime: afterwards, it became the spiritual home of the Sunni-led anti-American insurgency, together with their more hardline cousins led by al-Qaeda chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
In the filthy refugee camp that is now his home, five-year-old Hassan Ali Ibrahim gets insulin injections morning and night to deal with his newly developed diabetic condition. It is not a symptom of his spartan living conditions, his doctor says, but of shock. A year ago, he and his brother Saba, 12, were in their family car as it drove through a Sunni militia checkpoint near their home in the southern Baghdad suburb of Dora. A gunman, realising their father was a Shia, shot him dead on the spot, as his two sons watched in bewilderment from the back seat.
Shadtha al-Suwaidi, 32, used to live in the Ameriya suburb of west Baghdad, on a road known as Embassy Street. Four years ago, it was the heart of the Iraqi capital’s diplomatic quarter, an affluent district of luxury villas, well-kept gardens and broad, palm-tree-lined boulevards where both foreign and Iraqi residents alike enjoyed a standard of living to rival anything in the West
When Santa Essa started her career as a journalist after the fall of Saddam, she knew it would at last be a job worth doing. No longer would Iraq’s media be a propaganda arm of government, and no longer would her country’s many problems be free from the scrutiny and criticism that they so badly needed.
Iraq four years on (3 Pages)
Mohammed Mumtaz al-Duleimi shows me the ring on his third finger, set with a heavy stone in a dark-red colour that is known in Iraq as gazelle’s blood. For the superstitious Shias of the south, it is has long been a talisman to bring good luck; Mohammed, a Sunni from Baghdad, now fervently hopes it will do the same for him. Flashed at the Mehdi Army checkpoints that spring up along his daily route to work, it might just convince any suspicious gunman that he is a fellow Shia, and prevent him being executed on the spot.
Instead, he tells me, his family will seek redress via other means – by pursuing the debt the tribal way, in blood. In the case of the al-Duleimi clan to which he belongs, that is no idle threat. A million-strong and immensely wealthy, they are Iraq’s answer to the Rockefellers and the Sopranos rolled into one, with a reputation for killing anyone who crosses them.