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Archive: May 2008
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RUMOR MILL
Pro-Resistance Websites Say Mosul Families Search for Missing at Pesh Merga Site
05/30/2008 4:44 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

Some Iraqi websites opposed to the post-2003 regime in the country are reporting that bodies of missing Mosul citizens have appeared in an installation of Kurdish forces operating in the city.

The al-Yaqen website, with the Sunni Arab resistance movement in the country, writes that "eyewitnesses from among the people of Mosul" report that "tens of families in the city of Mosul went to the medical administration to search for the bodies of their missing relatives after government forces found a cache including tens of corpses in an installation that was occupied by Pesh Merga forces in the al-Tank district in Mosul city.

One of the witnesses, reportedly speaking anonymously by telephone with al-Yaqen said that "Families searched for their members who were missing who were arrested by the Kurdish Pesh Merga forces and whose fate was unknown

Families said that Asayish and Pesh Merga forces have conducted raids and instpections from time to time on the pretext of searching for wanted men, without the participation of Iraqi forces. Those who are arrested are taken to unknown places, family members told al-Yaqen.

Yaqen also cites family members who allege that the Kurdish forces raids were conducted "to control some of the areas of the city of Mosul before the beginning of the so-called Lion's Roar military campaign" that was launched earlier in the month in the northern city.

The al-Rabita website has also picked up the report, citing al-Yaqen.

Both al-Rabita and al-Yaqen are opposed to the presence of foreign forces in Iraq and opposed to the post-2003 regime. Closely identified with the pro-resistance segment of the Sunni Arab population of Iraq, the two sites are also hostile to the Kurdish movement for independence or greater autonomy.

IraqSlogger cannot confirm the al-Yaqen report at this time.

RUMOR MILL
Local Fighers Say They've Been Tapped to Enroll in Iraqi Police Forces
05/21/2008 8:51 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

A rumor is circulating in southern Baghdad over the controversial issue of regularizing the predominantly Sunni Arab irregular fighters that have fought with US forces against extremist groups in Iraq.

Sources in the al-Mahdiya district in Dora tell Slogger that members of the locally organized pro-US forces, known as Sahwa, who operate in the district have been accepted to join the ranks of the national police, according to members of the irregular force.

Inclusion of Sahwa elements, many of whom have performed security functions at the local level, into the ranks of the Iraqi security forces has been a controversial issue in Iraq over the last year.

Sahwa members in the area say that they have been recommended to join Iraqi forces by the political offices of the Sahwa in the area, and that they have been told that this request has been approved by Iraqi officials.

Other Sahwa elements from the Dora area are rumored to be slated for integration into the Iraqi forces, but Sahwa members in al-Mahdiya say that only their group has been selected.

IraqSlogger cannot confirm this rumor at this time.

RUMOR MILL
Baseless or Real? Unnamed "Source" Says PM "Surprised" at "Discovery"
05/19/2008 5:52 PM ET
Khosru Goran, Deputy Governor of Ninewa Province.
Photo: KRG.
Khosru Goran, Deputy Governor of Ninewa Province.

A report in a Kuwaiti newspaper carries grave allegations against a high-level provincial official in one of Iraq's most restive provinces.

The Kuwaiti daily paper al-Jarida writes in Arabic that an investigation conducted "at high levels of secrecy" discovered the alleged links between the deputy governor of the northern province of Ninewa and "assassination gangs" operating in the city of Mosul, the provincial capital.

A so-called "well-placed security source" told al-Jarida that a surprise stunned Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has been in Mosul for several days to command the operations there, was "surprised" to learn that Khusro Goran is, according to the unconfirmed report, "linked to criminal gangs that support the al-Qa'ida Organization."

Citing the unnamed "source" the Kuwaiti daily writes that three detainees confessed that they worked in a network that conducted assassinations and bombing attacks specially linked Deputy Governor Guran.

According to the source, the confessions pointed to the involvement of Maj. Ahmad al-Jawari in the network, who worked for a time as the director of the operations room of Mosul. Al-Jawari is presently being arrested, according to the source.

Maliki summoned Goran for immediate interrogation, the source reportedly told the Kuwaiti paper, but the vice governor has disappeared, according to the al-Jarida report, possibly returning to Arbil. Maliki has contacted the president of the Kurdish autonomous zone, Mas'oud al-Barzani, about the matter, al-Jarida says, also citing its unnamed source.

Goran is also the leader of al-Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the city of Mosul.

Goran, according to the report, apparently learned that al-Maliki had refused his participation in the activities of the provincial operations room, after the local commander Col. Jalal Riyad Tawfiq reportedly also obtained information against Goran, which the commander is said to have passed on to the PM.

Al-Jarida also writes that its source said that the PM expressed "remorse" for having "left Ninewa Province under the control of the Pesh Merga during the last five years," referring to the Kurdish militia who operate in some areas of the province, which is not formally part of the Kurdistan autonomous region of Iraq.

The source also indicated that the confessions of the detained criminal gang members indicated that that Goran had encouraged them to contact associates of the al-Qa'ida in Iraq organization, and request financial and logistical support from them.

The Kuwaiti daily also writes that a report from the Iraqi intelligence services, under the command of Abdallah al-Shahwani, reached the Iraqi PM shortly before his arrival in Mosul, which contained "dangerous information" regarding "Goran's role in assassination operations in the city" of Mosul.

The source also said that the gangs confessed to perpetrating the assassination of Shaykh Faydi Faydi, the imam of the most prominent mosque in the Baladiyat district of Mosul, as well as the assassination of the general secretary of the Ba'th party in Mosul, Najm al-Iraqi, and the assassination of Nizar Younis, a former Ba'th party official in the city, along with the killing of several doctors and university professors in Mosul.

IraqSlogger cannot confirm any of the allegations contained in the al-Jarida report.

The allegations seem to be beginning to diffuse through the Iraqi media. Since originally appearing in al-Jarida, the allegations against Goran have also appeared on the Iraqi News Agency, whose editorial line is generally hostile to the post-2003 Iraqi political regime, at the national and provincial levels, which it views as a creation of the US-led Coalition forces that invaded Iraq and deposed the Ba'thist regime.

In considering these unproven allegations, it bears noting that the role of the Kurdish parties in Ninewa Province has been highly controversial in the ethnically charged province. Many Arabs and Turkmen, for example, in the province accuse the two leading Kurdish parties, of which Goran is a representative, of seeking to unilaterally annex parts of Ninewa Province to the Kurdish autonomous zone, and of involvement in ethnic cleansing operations.

The Latest
Report Suggests that Turkmen Bloc Quietly Returned to Council Meetings This Week
05/16/2008 5:29 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

Turkmen representatives on the Kirkuk provincial council have quietly ended their months-long boycott of the body, according to one report in Arabic.

Al-Malaf Press writes in Arabic that the agency has learned from "special sources" that Turkmen members "have resumed attending meetings of the Kirkuk provincial council." The Turkmen bloc in the province has boycotted the proceedings for much of the last two years, the agency writes.

The Turkmen boycott "ended in recent days," according to the information obtained by al-Malaf Press.

The agency notes that the reported return of the Turkmen members of the Kirkuk council comes five months before the provincial council elections due in October.

Citing unnamed "observers of Kirkuki affairs," al-Malaf Press also writes that the return of the Turkmen bloc is indicative of the concern inside the Arab and Turkmen parties of Kirkuk, who are fearful that the demands of their communities will be shunted aside if the future of the oil-rich province is to be decided by the Kurdish political parties that have control of the local administration.

However, the "observers" cited in the article also link the sudden return of the Turkmen members of the provincial council to "cooperation with the two principal Kurdish parties."

According to these sources the return of the Turkmen bloc "at this time means one thing, which is to give the veneer of legitimacy to the decisions of the provincial council," apparently suggesting that the reported decision of the Turkmen officials eases tensions in the province just as the United Nations special representative Staffan de Mistura is set to put forward a plan for the politically embattled province.

Arab representatives to the provincial council engaged in a similar boycott but returned to participating in council affairs last year.

RUMOR MILL
"Sources" Tell Iraqi Agency GZ Mortars Could Stop in Exchange for End of Siege
05/09/2008 6:37 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

While the fighting in Sadr City that has raged for weeks between US-Iraqi forces and suspected elements of the Mahdi Army militia has not showed any signs of abating, rumors continue to circulate in Iraqi media of possible deals between the Iraqi government and the Mahdi Army leadership to end the standoff.

Today, an Iraqi news outlet writes in Arabic that it has conducted an exclusive interview with "sources close to the Sadrist Current" who said that "the parties responsible for launching mortars against the green Zone could stop their fire if US forces withdrew from Sadr City and left matters to the Iraqi forces" to conduct search operations in the city, "which would not be met with confrontations by the Mahdi Army fighters."

Al-Malaf Press also reports that sources close to the Sadrist Current have said that "Mahdi Army commanders who are leading battles in Sadr City" have learned their own sources, described as "close to the office" of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, that the Iraqi PM is "astonished" at what he reportedly termed as "vengeance missiles" that have fallen on the Green Zone, the heavily fortified section of Baghdad that hosts the headquarters of Iraqi and American officialdom in the country.

The same sources who reportedly told Mahdi Army commanders of the attitudes in the PM's office also said that the PM is disturbed that the missiles seem calibrated to kill their targets, the agency writes.

US military sources have cited figures of 700 missiles and around 120 mortars on the Green Zone since March 23, al-Malaf Press writes, and the agency also cited an American source in the Green Zone who said that each day the missiles "are nearer and nearer to their targets."

More missiles fell on the Green Zone Friday, one of which fell on the riverbank near the US embassy, the agency reports, noting that a surprise sandstorm has hit the Baghdad area, providing cover for the third time in recent days for missile crews to fire on the Green Zone.

Rumors have circulated recently of a possible deal between the Iraqi government and the Mahdi Army or the Sadrist leadership, to which the militia is linked, but none of these have been confirmed as yet, and deadly fighting continues in the district.

RUMOR MILL
Iraqi Report Says Sadrists, Government, Reached Conditions to End Siege
05/08/2008 3:45 PM ET

One Iraqi news agency is reporting word of a "secret agreement" between rival factions to end the crisis that has wracked the Sadr City area of eastern Baghdad for the last month.

Citing unidentified "government sources," the The Iraqi Press Agency (IPA) writes in Arabic that a "secret deal" was achieved between the Iraqi government and the Sadrist Current on Wednesday.

IPA writes that the unidentified sources said that the official Sadrist spokesman, Salih al-'Ubaydi, and a member of the Sadrist political committee, Walid al-Karimawi, met with "important persons from the government" and that the meeting resulted in an agreement to resolve the crisis.

According to the sources, the reported agreement includes a withdrawal of the American forces from Sadr City, while Iraqi forces alone are to remain. The reported agreement also would permit Iraqi forces to conduct inspections in the city over a ten-day period to search for weapons and wanted men, after which they will withdraw and end the security siege imposed on the city for more than one month.

IPA writes that the reported agreement also says that Iraqi forces will limit to a period of 48 hours the time of detention of arrested suspects, after which they will be released if no evidence is presented proving their involvement in acts of killing or theft.

According to IPA, the sources also said that the Iraqi government will accept weapons of the Mahdi Army militia in exchange for sums of money to be paid to individuals who will oversee the process.

The Iraqi PM has said previously that the government is not negotiating with those outside the law, especially with the Mahdi Army leadership, IPA points out.

The agency links its report to a letter submitted by the Iraqi president Jalal Talibani to a meeting o f parliament on Tuesday which expressed the viewpoint of the presidential council on the events underway in Sadr City, and offering an initiative to end the crisis. That letter was studied by the Iraqi parliamentary committees of defense and security on Wednesday.

IPA also cites a parliamentary source said that the letter would be transformed into a "national working document"

IraqSlogger cannot confirm the IPA report of an agreement to end the Sadr City crisis at this time.

Photo Gallery
Iraqi Website Presents The Walls of the Capital with Humor and Indignation
05/01/2008 2:39 PM ET
Iraqi Rabita.

The Iraqi Rabita website features a series of photos of the walls dividing Baghdad, identifying one snapshot as an image of a street in the al-Jami'a area of western Baghdad.

Writing that Baghdadis have begun to accommodate the walls that now divide their city into sectarian zones, the Rabita site, generally opposed to the presence of foreign forces in Iraq and to the post-2003 Iraqi governments, writes that Baghdad has "stabilized somewhat" because of the partitioning of the city. However, the site warns its readers that the walls form part of a project that benefits what it frequently refers to as the American and Iranian agenda in Iraq, to consolidate a political division of Iraqi society according to sectarian identities.

Writing in Arabic, the Iraqi Rabita site also presents a couple of anecdotes that it says show how Baghdadis, despite the hardships they endure, have not lost their celebrated sense of humor, writing that one wall has been termed the "Wall of Love" after a man used the blank space on the wall as a means to communicate with his sweetheart, while a barber has used another wall to advertise his services with clever slogans.

At the end of its introduction to the images, Iraqi Rabita writes, "When the Occupation ends, we will remove all these walls in half a day, and the reasons for the sectarian hostility that we did not know before the arrival of the Occupier will disappear."

Iraqi Rabita.

This image is identified as a street in Baghdad's al-Jami'a district.
Iraqi Rabita.
This image is identified as a street in Baghdad's al-Jami'a district.

Iraqi Rabita.

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