FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

After the Election, a New Wave of Assassinations of State Officials

Baghdad.

As the euphoria over the election dies away, the Iraqi resistance is seeking to eliminate anyone working with the US or the interim government.

And it is easy to get killed in Baghdad. A small mistake is often enough. A convoy of Kurdish officials took a wrong turning into Haifa Street yesterday, a resistance stronghold in the heart of the capital. A gun battle quickly erupted as insurgents opened fire. Soon, black smoke was rising from burning vehicles. The sound of shooting echoed across the centre of the city. By the time the fighting was over, three officials from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, part of the present government, were dead.

The insurgents’ intelligence is often chillingly accurate. At 7.45am yesterday, armed men kidnapped an interior ministry colonel called Riyadh Katei Illawi, dragging him from his car after he left his house in the al-Dora district of south Baghdad to go to work. As a middle-ranking official it is surprising he was still living in Dora, an area partly controlled by the insurgents.

Fifteen minutes later in the port city of Basra, at the other end of Iraq, an Iraqi television correspondent and his six-year-old son were shot dead by gunmen. Abdul Hussein Khazaal worked for al-Hura TV, an American-funded channel set up to compete with al-Jazeera. Muslim clerics had denounced its output as American propaganda. President George Bush claimed it was created to “cut through the hateful propaganda that fills the airwaves in the Muslim world.”

Mr Khazaal had just left his house and was standing by his car. He had two bodyguards. Instead of driving off, he remembered something he had left in his house and his guards went to get it. It was a fatal delay. A car filled with gunmen drove up and opened up on him and his son.

Yesterday evening, police in Baghdad said a director in the ministry of culture and housing had been assassinated by gunmen who attacked his car.

The suicide bombs, the attacks on US troops and the set-piece battles in Najaf and Kerbala are widely publicised abroad. The insurgents appear crude though bloodthirsty. But another war of assassinations and kidnappings is proving that the resistance has a well-informed intelligence service. It can identify the most effective personnel on the interim government side and eliminate them.

General Mudher, a burly middle-aged man, is the creator of the police commandos. Wearing camouflage uniform and black ski-masks, the commandos are a lot more warlike than the ordinary police with their elderly weapons and fragile blue and white police cars.

A veteran soldier famous in Iraq for bringing his tank safely from Kuwait back to Baghdad during the 1991 Gulf war, General Mudher recruited and trained this new force. “He was careful about his own security and was always changing his address,” said a colleague.

It did not do him much good. Somebody in the resistance decided he posed a real threat. Gunmen attacked his car two months ago and he was shot twice in the back, the bullets just missing his heart. He counts himself lucky to be alive – he counted 150 bullet holes in the remains of his vehicle. Largely recovered from his wounds, he still walks awkwardly and seems to wince with pain when he moves his arms.

It is not difficult to work out where the insurgents’ intelligence comes from. The most effective members of the resistance belonged to the old Iraqi army and security services. Many of their former colleagues now serve in the security ministries of the interim government. Information leaks.

The American recipe for making the army and security forces more effective is to embed US training officers in Iraqi units. It is not a welcome move among Iraqi officers. “They keep saying that they don’t need more training but better weapons,” says Sabah Khadim, a senior adviser in the Interior Ministry. The presence of American soldiers makes the Iraqi soldiers feel that they will be viewed as traitors to their own country by other Iraqis.

The lack of equipment and vehicles is still common, almost two years after the invasion. In the Qadassiya district of Baghdad yesterday police commandos were driving at great speed to an emergency. Their vehicles were elderly white pick-ups.

US officers told some Iraqi units that they would receive tanks. When they arrived, the Iraqi crews were angry to find that they were being given outdated, Soviet-made T-55s.

“The one thing the Americans seem determined about is to retain control of the Iraqi army,” said a foreign diplomat in Baghdad. The Americans also fear that one day the weapons they hand over now will be turned against them by Iraqis or will be sold to the resistance.

With the Shia victory in the election, the security ministries could again experience the post-war turmoil largely dealt with by the former Baathist interim Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi. Serving officers fear that the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, formerly based in Iran and controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, will want jobs in the Interior and Defence Ministries. Nobody expects the wave of assassinations to stop soon.

More articles by:

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

April 26, 2018
Robby Sherwin
The Hat
April 25, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Selective Outrage
Dan Kovalik
The Empire Turns Its Sights on Nicaragua – Again!
Joseph Essertier
The Abductees of Japan and Korea
Ramzy Baroud
The Ghost of Herut: Einstein on Israel, 70 Years Ago
W. T. Whitney
Imprisoned FARC Leader Faces Extradition: Still No Peace in Colombia
Manuel E. Yepe
Washington’s Attack on Syria Was a Mockery of the World
John White
My Silent Pain for Toronto and the World
Dean Baker
Bad Projections: the Federal Reserve, the IMF and Unemployment
David Schultz
Why Donald Trump Should Not be Allowed to Pardon Michael Cohen, His Friends, or Family Members
Mel Gurtov
Will Abe Shinzo “Make Japan Great Again”?
Binoy Kampmark
Enoch Powell: Blood Speeches and Anniversaries
Frank Scott
Weapons and Walls
April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Paul Bentley
A Velvet Revolution Turns Bloody? Ten Dead in Toronto
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail