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Sadr City Rumor: Secret Iran/US Deal
More Money Promised, Iraqi Army Goes Door-to-Door Taking Residents' Information
By DANIEL W. SMITH 05/30/2009 03:39 AM ET
Photo: Daniel W. Smith

Rumor of US/Iran Agreement

A rumor is going around that Iran is poised to take advantage of a secret deal just made between US and Iranian officials.

The agreement is said to be that the US military will fully withdraw from Sadr City and, in return, Iran will stop activities of “special groups,” small, fragmented cells which Iran is thought to support. Both sides are said to agree to allow the Iraqi Army, now with a huge visible presence throughout all the districts within Sadr City, known as “The City” or al-Medina to many in Baghdad. Elements of the Mahdi Army are said to be included in the deal as well.

This comes one month before US troops are set to largely withdraw from most Iraqi cities anyway, and as American military spokesman have been saying that special groups’ activities are at lower levels than for most of the past year. In al-Medina, though, special groups are seen as a frightening and well-organized force in the huge district, responsible for multiple recent assassinations. Iran is seen as currently having more pull in Sadr City than current incarnations of the Mahdi Army.

Part of the plan, verbalized by those with connections to special groups, are that the bargain will not be adhered to by Iran, after US forces pull out.

A new group said to be operating within Sadr City is the Iranian-backed “Itellat,” thought to have been created by Iranian intelligence. People within the area say that Itellat is making itself known, offering $20,000 USD to anyone who “destroys an American Humvee”, and provides video footage to prove they were responsible.

Residents who spoke to Iraqslogger who believe the story say that many others have been made ill-at-ease by such claims. Though there is a certain amount of expected general anti-Iranian comments which are publicly acceptable to make, people have mostly decided, out of fear, to remain silent, informing neither the US or Iraqi Armies.

Sadr City Rebuilding Funds

According to a statement by the Council of Ministers on Thursday, the body mandated nearly $800 million in funds from Iraq’s budget mostly for rehabilitation of Sadr City, as well as some other parts of Eastern Baghdad. It is said to be part of a ten-year plan to spend $10 billion on Sadr City, much of which has remained woefully devoid of basic services for years, despite other such promises of government money to be spent there. In July of 2008, $100 million was said to be “already allocated,” though most projects, promised in glowing terms, were never implemented.

House to House Search/Information Gathering

On Friday morning, Iraqi Army troops cordoned off almost all of Sadr City’s Sector 25 for several hours, blocking all traffic in and out. They stated to residents that they were acting on intelligence that those responsible for recent rockets fired at the Green Zone were living in the district. They had names of those they were looking for, and went door-to-door, asking for them.

What caught people’s attention most was that they also asked for all residents’ ID cards, in each of the houses, and demanded detailed information of the occupants of each house. In a country with much hesitation to give up such information to anyone, especially government security forces, this caused great concern. Additional family members’ names and inventory of weapons in each house was taken as well.

Members of Iraqslogger’s network of Iraqi staff contributed to this report, but choose to remain anonymous, for security reasons.

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