“Allawi: Iraq Abuses As Bad As Under Saddam”

"Human rights abuses in Iraq are as bad now as they were under Saddam Hussein and could become even worse, the country’s former interim prime minister said in an interview published Sunday.

"People are doing the same as Saddam’s time and worse," Ayad Allawi told The Observer newspaper. "It is an appropriate comparison."

Allawi accused fellow Shiites in the government of being responsible for death squads and secret torture centers and said the brutality of elements in the new security forces rivals that of Saddam’s secret police.

Although Allawi is a Shiite, he is secular in his politics and is running separately from the Shiite religious parties in the Dec. 15 election. His comments appear to be an attempt to appeal to Sunni voters, who claim their community has been unfairly targeted by the Shiite-led security forces.

"People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same thing," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

Iraqi officials have played down reports of rights abuses, insisting they are lies created by their enemies.

The Utopian vision of Iraq as a land inhabited by the benevolent creatures of Jean Jacques Rousseau’s imagination is fraying a bit.  We invaded Iraq with plans that accepted the idea that the various ethno-religious communities in Iraq were largely a thing of the past.  The administration held the view that Iraqis were a largely homogeneous mass who no longer identified themselves primarily as something other than "Iraqi."

This administration was wrong in that opinion.  They were completely wrong.  There WERE Iraqis who saw themselves primarily as Iraq nationalists but they were mostly people who had a stake in the existence of the Iraqi state as it was before our intervention.  They were military men, civil servants, school teachers, diplomats and present or past members of the Baath Party (like Ayyad Allawi).  All of these people together never made up a majority in Iraq.  When we occupied the country, we eliminated these people wholesale as "classes" in society.  We are slowly taking them back into the structure of the state because they are the "glue" that held the state together.

Through all the years of existence of the state of Iraq, the rest of the population had remained whatever they had been from time immemorial.  They were and are; Turkmen, Shia Arabs, Sunni Arab tribals, Kurds, Yazidis, Chaldean Christians, Assyrian Christians, etc.

In this AP story we have a secular Shia Iraqi nationalist (Allawi) telling us that the "unleashed" factional forces in Iraq have reached a level of savage competition for power in which they have returned to the kind of political behavior so typical of the Middle East.  In the Middle East, they have elections and constitutions.  They have a lot of elections.  In these elections they vote for strongmen who represent the interests of some portion of their country’s population.  In just about every case, people vote for their own kind, nobody else.  Political parties that appeal across ethnic, religious, tribal and regional lines were always a novelty in the long, long history of the Middle East.  This was true even in the "heyday" of pan-Arab nationalism in the 20th Century.  Nasserism, Baathism, communism, these, sadly, were the "standard-bearers" of that kind of politics in the Middle East.  All of these movements failed.  They were "lights that failed."  In reaction to that failure, the people have turned back to their emotional and historical roots.

Those roots lie in a kind of tribalism that extends beyond tribe.  This is a tribalism that leads to the kind of savage repression of tribal enemies that Allawi has revealed to the Associated Press.

And now we have the Wapo story cited below in which The Shia political leader Hakim maintains the following:

"Hakim charged that the United States, evidently fearful of alienating Sunnis, was blocking the arrests of Sunni political leaders who had ties to insurgents. "The mixing of security and political issues" was just another U.S. mistake, he said. "Terrorists should know there would be no dealing with them."

Indeed, some former members of Hussein’s Baath Party who initially took up arms against U.S. forces and the new Iraqi government have said they have abandoned the insurgency and sought a political role largely because of the effectiveness of what they alleged to be Shiite death squads rounding up and executing Sunni men since the Shiite-led government took office last spring." WaPo

Hakim is a leading figure in the "Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq" (SCIRI) and virtually the commander of its still extent militia, the "Badr Brigade." SCIRI is closely identified with Iranian interests in Iraq.

Need a diagram for this?

Pat Lang


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7 Responses to “Allawi: Iraq Abuses As Bad As Under Saddam”

  1. Tuli says:

    Bring back Tito! Ring a bell?

  2. What Hakim said has the ring of truth, in my experience. The US has held back and pulled its punches. Many Shia leaders, particularly tribal sheikhs, wanted to take harsh action, not only against Sunni insurgents, but against Moqtada’s Mahdi Army.

  3. Michael Murry says:

    It all sounds like Shiite nostalgia for Paul Bremer’s de-Baathification (i.e., purging of Sunnis) so beloved of Ahmed Chalabi and his Iranian friends in Tehran:
    The U.S. hires itself out for free to the Shiite-Kurdish alliance as the “industrial grade” destroyer of Sunni towns and villages while the Shiites and Kurds do the pin-point, targeted killings of Sunnis so politically effective locally. What a combination!
    Meanwhile the United States keeps operating at 20+ dead GIs and $1.5 billion per week with the “rest” of the disintegrating American military and treasury “tied behind its back.” Still though, somehow, despite all the “success,” we somehow keep hearing the same old calls for “escalation” because our success apparently hasn’t succeeded.
    The Bad Puppet Bottom Line:
    The Shiites do not want America making any deals with the Sunnis. Like the long succession of dependent puppet regimes in South Vietnam, they have only one guiding policy, as Frances Fitzgerald said: “Make dependency pay.” The bad Shiite puppet wants to keep the bungling American puppeteer ensnared in its own strings for as long as possible. What about this obvious chicanery seems the least bit difficult to understand?

  4. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Mike et al
    Yes. The puppets are often difficult and want to dance by themselves. pl

  5. elendil says:

    Allawi’s a hypocrite. Those abuses were well established while he was Interim Prime Minister[1]. The only difference then was that US forces looked on in approval. I still remember his govt gloating about how many detainees they had. Any “disease” that exists now in the Interior Ministry he helped infect it with.
    [1]: e.g. http://rummysdiaries.blogspot.com/2004/07/incident-group-of-5-iraqi-men-arrested.html

  6. searp says:

    This discussion could be broadened.
    COL Lang: What is the likelihood that military training will engender unconditional loyalty to the government in Iraq?
    That is, does our strategy of training troops represent a real strategy to stabilize Iraq?

  7. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I think that the existence of truly “national” armed forces contributes in the long run to a wodespread sense of national identity in a people and the existence of the armed forces being “stood up” will have that effect if they last long enough.
    In the present situation they have amore immediate task which is to determine whether or not said “national” government will exist at all in the short run. pl

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