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Daily Column
Iraq Papers Mon: Maliki vs Integrity Commission
Alercation between US Officer and Provincial Governor Ends a Security Meeting
By AMER MOHSEN 10/28/2007 5:42 PM ET
Az-Zaman reported that a high-level security meeting between US Army commanders and Iraqi officials in Diwaniya ended when the Iraqi delegation, headed by Diwaniya’s governor, left the meeting. The governor, Hamid al-Khudari, said that he withdrew because of “unacceptable behavior on the part of the International Coalition forces.”

Az-Zaman however, presented an insider’s account of the meeting, and said that a high-level US officer used “inappropriate words” in addressing al-Khudari. The “source” told the paper that the US official called al-Khudari “a militia leader” and accused him of “carrying out political assassinations in the province, whose price is paid by the US soldiers and the security forces.”

Al-Khudari is politically affiliated with al-Hakeem’s Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC,) and as in many southern Iraqi provinces, the SIIC control over local councils has assured the election of their leaders in top administrative positions. Other Shi'a parties (namely al-Fadhila and the Sadrist Current) contest the SIIC hegemony – during the election of al-Khudari, non-SIIC members in the Diwaniya provincial council boycotted the session. The competition, however, has turned violent in recent months, and Diwaniya in specific has witnessed repeated clashes between Sadrists and Badr (the SIIC armed wing) supported by the local police forces.

Sadrists, meanwhile, accuse pro-SIIC officials (such as al-Khudari) of using the local administration and security forces to liquidate and arrest their leaders, in an attempt to sidestep the SIIC adversaries and assure a long-lasting control for the SIIC over the Iraqi South.

On a related front, al-Hayat relayed statement by al-Fadhila officials who accused the SIIC and its allies in the Iraqi parliament of imposing a political hegemony over the Iraqi political scene, which excludes parties that do not conform to their political project. Wasfi al-Hrishawi, a Fadhila leader, attacked the four-party coalition that controls the Iraqi government and holds a parliamentary majority (the coalition is made up of the SIIC, Da'wa and the two mainstream Kurdish parties,) likening their front to the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and asserting that “(the coalition) does not serve the interests of the Iraqi people.”

In other news, a continuing corruption scandal may cause further pains for the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, with reports stating that the parliamentary commission on Public Integrity is pursuing legal measures to prosecute the Prime Minister.

The discord between al-Maliki and the Commission has an interesting history. A clash between the Prime Minister and the ex-chief of the Commission, Radi al-Radi, ended with al-Radi seeking asylum in the US (or “fleeing” from corruption charges, according to al-Maliki’s office) and claiming that al-Maliki has been involved in corruption, and in protecting corrupt officials from among his family members and political allies.

Furthermore, al-Radi said that he is in the possession of legal documents proving his accusations against Maliki. The Prime Minister, on the other hand, accused al-Radi of “stealing” official documents and smuggling them into the US. The confrontation between al-Radi and al-Maliki resulted in the Prime Minister issuing orders to relieve al-Radi from his duties, along with several Commission members, and the appointment of a new chairman.

Today, al-Hayat said that the Commission is planning to sue the Prime Minister, charging that he did not have the authority to replace al-Radi or appoint new members in the Commission, which is theoretically independent from the executive and under the oversight of the parliament.

A member of the parliamentary Commission spoke to al-Hayat – under the condition of anonymity - and confirmed that al-Radi did smuggle documents “that would condemn Iraqi and American officials” who were allegedly involved in corruption, especially in what regards the reconstruction contracts and the Iraqi Development Fund. Al-Hayat quoted reports claiming that as much as $16 Bn were lost to corruption in the years following the US invasion. The anonymous official added that al-Radi is in the possession of over 600 pounds of legal document that would implicate “Iraqi and American officials, civilians and military, some of whom are still working in the US Embassy in Baghdad” in a massive corruption scandal.

Lastly, Kull al-'Iraq daily reported that 10 tribal chiefs from Diyali – all belonging to a pro-government, pro-US council; were abducted while on their way back from Baghdad after a meeting with al-Maliki’s advisor for tribal affairs.

In the last months, the “Council for the Support of Peace,” to which the tribal leaders belonged, participated in armed operations against al-Qa'ida in the province. The abduction took place in a town on the northern outskirts of Baghdad.


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