Tips, questions, and suggestions
Sign up for emails
Archive: June 2009
View by

Kut Commander Reported to Face Charges of Forgery, Fuel Smuggling
06/30/2009 7:44 PM ET
A high-level Iraqi security official in Wasit Province is to be charged with various counts of forgery and fuel smuggling according to reports in Arabic in Iraqi cyberspace.

The anti-government Haq News Agency reports that its sources in the Interior Ministry have disclosed that arrest warrants will be issued for Maj. Majid Latif al-Amara, identifited as the commander of rapid response forces in the province, along with orders dismissing him from his work.

The sources said that al-Amara will face more than one legal charge. The arrest order cited by the Haq Agency includes allegations of falsifying a school degree, although the unidentified sources are also reported to reveal that more than one charge will be issued against the officer.

According to Haq News, the official stepped down from his post to contest the January elections in Wasit Province on the part of the secular al-Iraqiya List, led by former Iraqi Interim PM Iyad Allawi, but returned to the security forces after failing in that bid for a provincial council seat in Kut.

Meanwhile, the Buratha News website, a media organ of the Iraqi Supreme Islamic Council led by Shi'a cleric Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim, says that unidentified high-level officials in Wasit Province have disclosed documents that link al-Amara to fuel smuggling operations in the province.

Both reports appear on highly partisan websites and cannot be confirmed at this time.

The Latest
Qadisiya Province Home to Camp Echo
06/29/2009 8:20 PM ET
As American combat forces prepare to draw back from Iraq's urban centers under the terms of the US-Iraqi security agreement, the governor of Iraq’s al-Qadisiya province has announced that security forces in the southern governorate are ready to take the security file from the American forces.

Governor Salim Husayn Alwan announced that security forces in the southern province where violence has flared occasionally are “completely prepared” to take the security responsibility for the province after the withdrawal of American troops, al-Malaf Press writes in Arabic.

Speaking in a press conference that he convened in the provincial administration building in Diwaniya, the governorate capital, the governor added that he had taken several field tours of security installations in the province to observe preparations for the transfer of security responsibility.

The governor confirmed that under the US-Iraqi security agreement, Camp Echo in the province will be vacated by foreign combat forces and will be host to US reconstruction teams working in the province.

Security and intelligence measures are in place to contend with any attempts to interfere with the security handover, the governor added.

The Latest
Othman: Maliki-Backed Groups, not Kurds, Lie Behind Displacement of Christians
06/23/2009 9:10 PM ET
Iraqi MP Mahmoud Othman, representing the Kurdistan Coalition in the Baghdad Parliament.
Iraqi MP Mahmoud Othman, representing the Kurdistan Coalition in the Baghdad Parliament.
Amid an ongoing war of words between prominent Iraqi political factions over the forced displacement of members of the minority Christian population in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, Kurdish MP Mahmoud Othman has claimed that militias loyal to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki are behind the violence against Christians in the northern Iraqi city.

Thousands of Iraqi Christians fled the city of Mosul last fall after a wave of violence that targeted their community.

Allegations from Arab quarters, including the outspoken Mosul-based MP Usama al-Najifi, have often focused on Kurdish militia forces deployed in Mosul as allegedly lying behind the mass displacement, a charge denied by Kurdish leaders, while others have linked the anti-Christian violence to broader inter-ethnic power struggles in northern Iraq.

However, as INA reports, a Kurdish MP has lashed back, with Mahmoud Othman choosing to point the blame at the ruling party in Iraqi government, which has little support in the predominantly Sunni Arab and Kurdish city of Mosul.

"Kurds welcome any investigation into the question of the forced displacement and killing of Christians in Mosul," Othman said, adding that The Kurdistan Coalition "supports any investigation (into the forced displacement and killing) to clarify to all the party lying behind" the acts of violence.

The Iraqi government has formed a committee but it’s disappointing that the government did not publish the results of the investigations and I don’t know the reason for the government’s holding an investigation and not publishing its results, As IraqSlogger reported earlier, the results of a government investigation into the anti-Christian displacement in Mosul were not released.

The reason for the non-disclosure of the results of the investigation is the involvement of militias loyal to Nuri al-Maliki in the forced displacement operations in Mosul Othma denied that Kurds have any hand in the forced displacement, saying that the evidence of that is the Christians who have fled Mosul for the autonomous Kurdistan region and taken up residence there.

A source in PM al-Maliki’s Da'wa Party dismissed Othman’s remarks, saying provocatively that the Kurds, more than others, know who lies behind these crimes.

The Latest
17 Percent of Exiles Have University Degrees
06/22/2009 8:32 PM ET
The government of Iraq issued a call on Monday to professors living abroad to return to the country to use their expertise in rebuilding the country.

Once boasting one of the most educated populations in the Middle East with a well-funded education program, Iraq's educated classes were devastated by years of economic sanctions, war and sectarian and criminal violence.

Although the level of violence has dropped in the country over the last two years, hundreds of Iraq's professors have not returned, al-Malaf Press writes in Arabic.

Sadiq al-Rikabi, the political advisor to Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki said at the beginning of a three-day conference organized by the Iraqi Ministry of Higher education and Technology that Iraq’s professors are an integral piece of Iraqi society and could affect the future of the Iraqi economy should they choose to return.

At least 350,000 Iraqis living in exile have university diplomas, or about 17 percent of the roughly two million Iraqis who have left the country since 2003, the agency adds.

About 200 Iraqi professors came to the gathering in Baghdad, al-Malaf Press writes, some of whom expressed misgivings at the idea of returing to a country where violence continues to smolder.

Muhammad al-Rabi'i, an Iraqi professor of engineering at Dublin University reportedly told Reuters that he planned only to make short visits to Iraq, adding that while many professors did not seek to return to Iraqi to reside, but suggested that short-term projects involving expatriate experts could still benefit the country.

The Latest
Iraq-Focused Station to Broadcast from Beirut
06/22/2009 7:17 PM ET

A new Iraq-focused Arabic-language satellite channel will enter the airwaves later this year, according to a report online.

The new channel will be based in the Lebanese capital Beirut but will follow Iraqi and Arab affairs, according to a report in Arabic on the Iraqi news blog al-Iraq News.

The website writes that its sources in Beirut report that a team of Lebanese and Iraqi media advisors are overseeing the development of the channel.

The station, whose name has not been announced, is due to launch in two months time, accordin to the report.

The Latest
Body Will Vet Hopefuls, Announce Names in Press Conference
06/19/2009 7:44 PM ET
Names of candidates for upcoming legislative elections in Kurdistan have been submitted to Iraq’s electoral watchdog in Baghdad for review, according to a report in Arabic on an Iraqi Kurdish website.

Iraq’s Independent High Elections Commission (IHEC) has received the list of candidates vying for seats in the Kurdistan Parliament in next’s month’s polls, according to a report on PUK Media, a media organ of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan of Iraqi President Jalal al-Talibani.

The IHEC will vet the candidates to ensure that they meet the qualifications for the office, said Hamdiya al-Husayni, a member of the IHEC executive council.

Names of candidates are to be announced on Saturday in a press conference in Baghdad, al-Husayni added.

Elections for the regional parliament and president of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region are slated for July 25.

Baghdad Buzz
Allegations of Nepotism as Top Officials, Relatives Make List of Nominees
06/18/2009 5:37 PM ET

A member in the foreign relations committee in the Iraqi Parliament has said that Iraqi officials and relatives of top politicians have been nominated to represent Iraq in embassies overseas.

Salman al-Jamili said that the list of nominees for the ambassadorships included Ali Dabbagh, the official spokesman of the Maliki government, Salah Abd al-Razzaq, the current governor of Baghdad, and the nephew of Mas'oud al-Barzani, along with the husband of an MP and the nephew of another MP, according to a report in Arabic on the INA news website.

Al-Jamili alleged that the candidates for the various ambassadorial posts “lacked the requisite qualifications to represent Iraq overseas” and came instead as a result of a political understanding between the governing parties in the Iraqi government.

Only on Slogger
Karbala Police on Alert After Deadly Motorcycle Blast
By SLOGGER NETWORK 06/17/2009 3:53 PM ET
Iraqi forces fanned out in an area near the Karbala-Babil border last week after five individuals were injured near the Iraqi city of al-Hindiya, south of Baghdad, when a dispute over a boys’ soccer match heated over into a clash between two local tribal groups. Iraqi security forces intervened into the clashes in the al-Khayrat sub-district, outside the al-Hindiya area, which lies in Babil Province near the border with Karbala Province. Forces arrested ten armed men as Iraqi forces clamped down on the fighting. Troops remained deployed in force in the area after the arrests in an effort to prevent the conflict from re-igniting, eyewitnesses told Slogger.

Security forces in the city of Karbala are on alert after a motorcycle rigged with explosives blew up near the al-Husayn Park in Karbala city. At least two people were killed in the blast on Friday, according, and at least ten injured. The motorcycle bombing attack came after police in the city of Falluja, in neighboring Anbar Province, imposed a curfew on motorcycles after a motorcycle-borne blast on Tuesday.

Members of IraqSlogger's network of Iraqi staff in Karbala contributed to this report but choose to remain anonymous for security reasons.

Arabic Website Claims High Ranking Gov't Officials Voted in Secret
06/16/2009 11:00 AM ET
BAGHDAD - According to the Arabic online news site, IWFFO, The Iraqi Writers for Freedom Organization, some members of the Iraqi government (said to hold Iranian passports) cast ballots in this week’s contested Iranian election. These claims have in no way been verified, and sources were not given.

The site reports that their ranks include “ministers, members of the House of Representatives and officers of the Interior and Defense ministries, and some party leaders,” had gone “in secret to the Iranian embassy, neighboring the Green Zone for the purpose of casting their ballots.” Most are connected the Supreme Council or Dawa.

The names given by IWFFO include Dawa leader Ali al-Adeeb, Supreme Council leader Ammar al-Hakim, The Interior Ministry’s Adnan al-Asadi, MP and Deputy Speaker Khaled al-Attiya, prime ministerial advisor Kata Ndjeman Rikabi, and Finance Minister Bayan Jabr Solak.

The Latest
War of Words over Pesh Merga Deployment in Ninewa Province
06/12/2009 8:59 PM ET
As clashes broke out in the northern Iraqi province of Ninewa between Kurdish militia forces and guards in the employ of the predominantly Arab al-Hadba’ party, the head of the Kurdistan Parliament has denied remarks made earlier by Iraqi MP Usama al-Najifi regarding potential fighting in Mosul between the Iraqi Army and Peshmerga forces in the province.

Adnan al-Mufti, the speaker in the regional parliament of the Kurdistan Autonomous Zone in northern Iraq said that there “will not be any confrontations between the Iraqi Army and the Peshmerga,” adding that “it is incumbent on all to remain committed to the constitution.

However, al-Mufti defended the deployment of Peshmerga forces in Ninewa Province, which non-Kurdish residents of the province have viewed as provocative. “Everyone must know that it is the right of the Kurdistan Regional Government to be present in the areas where there are Kurds present,” he said in an interview with al-Malaf Press.

The Kurdistan parliament leader warned against the outbreak of clashes between the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces due to the “dangerousness of the situation in Ninewa Province, especially since Kurdish forces refused to permit the Iraqi Army to enter some of the areas” where they operate.

As for remarks issued recently by the deputy Iraqi interior minister Adnan al-Asadi, who said that the deployment of Peshmerga Forces in the areas around Mosul is not legal, al-Mufti said, “This is his personal opinion, but there are mechanisms and we have representatives in Baghdad and there is a a parliament, all of these people can take decisions but one person cannot decide through his remarks here and there.”

The Iraqi MP Usama al-Najifi announced recently that talks between the predominantly Arab al-Hadba’ list and the Ninewa Brotherhood list over the division of power have failed and it is up to the Kurds to recognize the borders of Ninewa Province, and it is the Ninewa Provincial government that should control all areas of the province within its pre-2003 borders.”

"Shari'a Court", Showdown With Sadr Followers Expected
By DANIEL W. SMITH 06/12/2009 6:01 PM ET
Photo: Daniel W. Smith

BAGHDAD - The release this week by US forces of Sheikh Laith al-Khazali, a high-ranking member of the militant Shi’a group Asa’ib Ahil al-Haq, has fueled a rumor in Sadr city that has many residents concerned. Developments related to the group, which is thought to be backed by Iran, are said to be in the works.

Al-Khazali’s brother Qais, who leads the group, is also expected to be released soon. Both were arrested in connection to incidents which lead to the killing of US soldiers and the kidnapping of five British civilians, one of whom has been killed. The releases are thought to be the first part of a behind-the-scenes deal which could culminate in the release of the four remaining hostages.

In Sadr City, there is said to be a sizable disagreement between groups within the power structure that has previously made up the Mahdi Army. Some of its former high-ranking members are thought to have stopped dealing with the Sadrist leadership altogether, and have joined the ranks of Asa’ib Ahil al-Haq. The group is generally thought to be fully supported by Iran - receiving weapons, funding, training, intelligence, etc. Some of the other leaders are said to be currently in Iran, receiving training and direction.

With a return of Muqtada al-Sadr to Iraq looking imminent in the near future, a showdown between the two factions over control of Sadr City is being anticipated. Even though both are assumed to have Iranian backing, Iran is seen to be omnipresent in Iraq, even supporting multiple rival factions and newspapers with opposing ideas. There are jokes about politicians complaining that an election wasn’t fair, because “Iran backed all of the candidates”.

One option particularly feared in Sadr City (often called “al-Medina” – Arabic for “The City”) is a return of the “Shari’a Court”. In the days of 2006 and 2007 when the Mahdi Army walked the streets of Sadr City openly, this strict interpretation (and a misguided one, perceived by many) of Islamic law was enforced by self-styled “courts”, made up of Mahdi Army appointed leaders. Offenses of a wide range of “non-virtuous behavior” (including clothing and hair style) were dealt with harshly and often violently. The extremist interpretation of Shari’a threatened all without the mafia-like clout enjoyed by the leaders of Baghdad’s militias, and the violent subjugation of women in particular led to the usage of the term, “the Talibanization of Iraq”.

If indeed, a showdown between the current followers of al-Sadr and Asa’ib Ahil al-Haq occurs, and if a clear winner gains dominance over large parts of al-Medina, one of two forms of the Shari’a Court is expected, even if it is not expected to be employed to the same extent as in past years. Though neither form are relished by Sadr City residents, the one expected to be enforced by Asa’ib Ahil al-Haq is seen as being closer to Iran’s form of Shari’a, milder and less-restrictive than the more severe version preferred in the past by followers of Muqtada al-Sadr.

Rumors of Attempt to Bring Back Former Commander; Scores of June Arrrests
By SLOGGER NETWORK 06/10/2009 5:19 PM ET
Google Earth image/

Sources in the southern province of Karbala have told Slogger of rumors in the city that some members of the Karbala Provincial Council intend to dismiss the provincial police commander in order to bring back the former police commander.

Rumors, which IraqSlogger cannot confirm, suggest of movement in the provincial council to dismiss Maj. Gen. Jasim Muhammad, commander of Karbala police forces, and to bring back the former Karbala commander Ra’id Shakir Jawdat, who currently heads the police forces in Wasit Province.

Meanwhile, Iraqi forces in the city of Karbala, south of Baghdad, conducted a series of raids over the week of June, arresting scores of wanted suspects, including the former head of the provincial council.

Security forces detained Abd al-Ali al-Yasiri, the former president of the Karbala provincial council, on allegations of corruption and misuse of influence during his tenure, which ended with the accession of the incoming provincial council elected in the January 31 elections in Iraq.

In the course of the raids across Karbala city, Iraqi forces seized 57 artillery shells of varying sizes in operations in the al-Sina'i industrial sector, along with various other weapons and ammunition.

Sources in the Karbala security forces told Slogger that the 77 detainees captured in early June were arrested according to warrants issued by the Iraqi courts. Fourteen of the detainees are accused of dealing in narcotics in Baghdad’s Palestine Street area, with another 20 accused of participating in terrorist attacks, and at least 8 accused of murder and theft. Members of IraqSlogger's network of Iraqi staff in Karbala contributed to this report but choose to remain anonymous for security reasons.

Only on Slogger
Strange New Faces in Dora Cause Fears for Locals
By SLOGGER NETWORK 06/09/2009 6:57 PM ET
Google Earth image/

Iraqi forces mounted a raid in the the southern Baghdad district of Dora last week, based on tips obtained from residents of another southern Baghdad area.

Police seized a cache of homemade explosives in the al-Athuriyin area of Dora before arresting the building occupant, a lone man alleged to have links to the al-Qa'ida in Iraq organization.

Local security sources told Slogger that the operation was launched after Iraqi forces obtained information from intelligence sources of the al-'Amil district to the west, explaining that the arrested individual in Dora was a former resident of the al-'Amil district but moved to Dora with the deterioration in the security situation in both areas as southern Baghdad slipped into the control of militias and extremist groups in 2006.

Longtime residents of the al-Athuriyin area told Slogger that many unknown individuals had moved into the area with the breakdown of security and sectarian conflict in the last few years, some of whom are suspected of links to armed activity in the area.

Rumors of Ongoing Links with Security Forces, Iraqi Government
By SLOGGER NETWORK 06/08/2009 5:01 PM ET
Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie in May 2007.
Jim Watson/AFP.
Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie in May 2007.

Rumors are circulating in the Iraqi capital over the newly announced parliamentary bloc after the announcement of Iraq’s former national security advisor that he has formed a new political party.

Mowaffak al-Rubai’i, who had until recently been Iraq’s national security advisor over several Iraqi administrations since 2003, has announced the formation of a new political party, the Center Party. The new grouping’s first public event was held on Sunday in the Meridian Hotel in central Baghdad.

Speculation in the capital is that the new grouping, known in Arabic as the al-Wasat Party, will enter into alliance with the leading Shi'a political blocs already in the Iraqi Parliament, including the United Iraqi Alliance, the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, and the Iraqi National Congress led by Ahmad Chalabi.

Meanwhile, IraqSlogger staff in Baghdad report that the first party event on Sunday was heavily guarded by a large contingent of Iraqi security forces.

Local sources say that the heavy security presence has led some Baghdadis to speculate as to the degree of separation that the former national security advisor enjoys from the security forces and the Iraqi government.

IraqSlogger cannot confirm these rumors at this time.

The Latest
Design to be Completed Soon on $4 Billion Project
06/04/2009 8:46 PM ET
Google Earth image/

Designs will be completed this month for a rail line linking the two northern Iraqi cities of Kirkuk and Sulaymaniya, a local official has announced.

3.1 million US dollars have been appropriated for the project, according to the Sulaymaniya Province project coordinator Washyar Rasoul.

The Hungarian company Muzir Automatique has been engaged for the project, under the supervision of the Iraqi General Railroad Company, Rasoul added.

The design phase of the project includes economic projections, engineering, and identifying the route between the two cities, explaining that there will be six stations on the route along with the main terminals in Kirkuk and Sulaymaniya.

The total cost of the project is estimated at 4 billion US dollars, and is due to take three to four years before completion, the official said.


Wounded Warrior Project