FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Killing with Impunity

by PATRICK COCKBURN

 

The raid on the Finance Ministry in Baghdad by 40 policemen in 19 vehicles who calmly cordoned off the street in front of the building before abducting five Britons shows how little has changed in the Iraqi capital despite US reinforcements and a new security plan.

It has always been absurd to speak of men “dressed in police uniforms travelling in police vehicles” as if they were gunmen in disguise. “Of course they have the uniforms and the vehicles, because they are real policemen,” said an Iraqi minister after a similar operation in which 150 people were abducted from the Ministry of Higher Education in the capital last year.

The unit that carried out this kidnapping is almost certainly Shia and is probably under the control of the Mehdi Army or the Badr Organisation. The Finance Ministry in East Baghdad is in a heavily Shia district not far from the Oil and Interior Ministries. There are many checkpoints here, so it would be difficult for a detachment of Sunni insurgents to pass undetected.

The motive is political: Commercial kidnappers in Baghdad – numerous, violent and well-organised though they are – have never had the need or capacity to operate on this scale. The raid also shows good intelligence and a carefully worked-out plan to enter and leave the ministry.

The most obvious explanation for the abductions is that they werein retaliation for the killing of Abu Qader, also known as Wissam Wiali, the Mehdi Army commander in Basra, by a British-backed operation last week. It may be designed to send a message that any British action will be met with retaliation.

The other militia units capable of conducting a raid like this are police and police commandos under the control of that Badr Organisation, the military wing of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), whose men still largely run the Interior Ministry. Although it is the Mehdi Army that is invariably singled out for criticism by US and British leaders, the Badr Organisation played a central role in carrying out sectarian killings of Sunnis in 2005 and 2006.

The third suspects in mass abductions against US and British personnel in Iraq are the Iranian-run units that certainly exist. Iranian-inspired retaliatory operations in Iraq appear to have increased since five of their officials were abducted in a US helicopter raid on 11 January on the Kurdish capital of Arbil.

The abductions at the Finance Ministry underline another truth about Iraq. In Arab Iraq, the US and Britain have no allies. For four years the Sunni community has been in rebellion. But the Iraqi Shia only supported the US-led occupation as a means to an end, by which they would legally take power through elections. The Shia do not, at the end of the day, intend to share power with foreign occupiers.

One reason why so many foreign security contractors are employed in Iraq, at vast expense, is that the US, Britain and the Iraqi governments recognise they dare not rely on Iraqis to protect them.

PATRICK COCKBURN is the author of ‘The Occupation: War, resistance and daily life in Iraq‘, a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for best non-fiction book of 2006.

 

 

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
January 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Dr. King’s Long Assassination
David Roediger
A House is Not a Hole: (Not) Caring about What Trump Says
George Burchett
How the CIA Tried to Bribe Wilfred Burchett
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Plan B for Syria: Occupation and Intimidation
Michael Hudson – Charles Goodhart
Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?
Marshall Auerback – Franklin C. Spinney
Boss Tweet’s Generals Already Run the Show
Andrew Levine
Remember, Democrats are Awful Too
James Bovard
Why Ruby Ridge Still Matters
Wilfred Burchett
The Bug Offensive
Brian Cloughley
Now Trump Menaces Pakistan
Ron Jacobs
Whiteness and Working Folks
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Keeper of Crazy Beats: Charlie Haden and Music as a Force of Liberation
Robert Fantina
Palestine and Israeli Recognition
Jan Oberg
The New US Syria “Strategy”, a Recipe For Continued Disaster
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Return of the Repressed
Mel Gurtov
Dubious Partnership: The US and Saudi Arabia
Robert Fisk
The Next Kurdish War Looms on the Horizon
Lawrence Davidson
Contextualizing Sexual Harassment
Jeff Berg
Approaching Day Zero
Karl Grossman
Disaster Island
Thomas S. Harrington
What Nerve! In Catalonia They are Once Again Trying to Swear in the Coalition that Won the Most Votes
Pepe Escobar
Rome: A Eulogy
Robert Hunziker
Will Aliens Save Humanity?
Jonah Raskin
“Can’t Put the Pot Genie Back in the Bottle”: An Interview with CAL NORML’s Dale Gieringer
Stepan Hobza
Beckett, Ionesco, and Trump
Joseph Natoli
The ‘Worlding’ of the Party-less
Julia Stein
The Myths of Housing Policy
George Ochenski
Zinke’s Purge at Interior
Christopher Brauchli
How Trump Killed the Asterisk
Rosemary Mason - Colin Todhunter
Corporate Monopolies Will Accelerate the Globalisation of Bad Food, Poor Health and Environmental Catastrophe
Michael J. Sainato
U.S Prisons Are Ending In-Person Visits, Cutting Down On Reading Books
Michael Barker
Blame Game: Carillion or Capitalism?
Binoy Kampmark
The War on Plastic
Cindy Sheehan – Rick Sterling
Peace Should Be Integral to the Women’s March
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
No Foreign Bases!
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Across the Boer Heartland to Pretoria
Joe Emersberger
What’s Going On in Ecuador? An Interview With Wladimir Iza
Clark T. Scott
1918, 1968, 2018: From Debs to Trump
Cesar Chelala
Women Pay a Grievous Price in Congo’s Conflict
Michael Welton
Secondly
Robert Koehler
The Wisdom of Mass Salvation
Seth Sandronsky
Misreading Edu-Reform 
Ann Garrison
Full-Spectrum Arrogance: US Bases Span the Globe
Louis Proyect
Morality Tales on the American Malaise: the Films of Rick Alverson
David Yearsley
Winston and Paddington: Marianelli’s Musical Bears
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail