An Iraqi General Faces Risk
From Within His Ranks
Mahdi Militia StymiesThis is one of the reasons that an Allawi would not survive long and that the US effort will eventually fail. But perhaps more importantly is what will happen when Bush and the neocons attack Iran. The 150,000 US soldiers in Iraq will become targets for the militias but also a large chunk of the Iraqi Security Forces that they have armed and trained.
U.S. Security Push;
New Ceasefire Questioned
BAGHDAD -- Early this month, Brig. Gen. Falah Hassan Kinbar barely escaped a kidnap attempt by the Mahdi Army, a radical Shiite militia. During the attack, more than a dozen of the moderate Shiite general's own men betrayed him, switching sides to aid the militia fighters, U.S. officials say. When it was over, Gen. Kinbar's superiors seemed to distance themselves from him, he says.
"I am all alone on the battlefield," the general told Lt. Col. Steven Miska through an interpreter. "I want to do my duty. But I am very sure my own government will abandon me." Gen. Kinbar pleaded with Col. Miska to help him relocate his wife and two children. "Any country, any country, any country," he said, breaking into English.
As Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government has teetered in recent weeks, the Mahdi Army seems to have stepped up efforts to consolidate power, say U.S. military officials. In Ghaziliya, a Baghdad neighborhood, the Mahdi Army arrays forces around fuel stations, levying a "security tax" on owners and denying Sunnis fuel, says Col. Miska.
Mahdi fighters have infiltrated the major food-distribution warehouse on Baghdad's west side and shortchange Sunnis of rations, U.S. officials say. Elsewhere, Mahdi Army forces have "infected pieces of the local government" to deny Sunnis health care, water, and electricity, says Maj. Scott Nelson, operations officer for a 5,000-soldier brigade in Baghdad.
Armor-piercing bombs, used primarily by the Mahdi Army, accounted for three-quarters of American deaths and injuries in July, U.S. commanders say. Mr. Sadr yesterday called on Mahdi fighters to halt such attacks.
Today, few districts in Baghdad are more important to the Mahdi Army than Kadhimiya, the area where Col. Miska and Gen. Kinbar are charged with maintaining security. Kadhimiya, home to more than 200,000 Iraqis and the city's holiest Shiite shrine, has become a major center of Shiite political and economic power. Rival Shiite factions compete to dominate the area around the shrine, which draws hundreds of thousands of pilgrims a year. Mahdi fighters also use the Shiite district as a base to launch attacks against Sunnis, U.S. officials say.
This is really going to help Allawi:
Allawi Gets a Baathist Endorsement
Iyad Allawi's bid to become Iraq's prime minister again has received an endorsement from an unexpected source: the Baath Party. A spokesman for the exiled leadership of Saddam Hussein's old party told TIME that Allawi "is the best person at this time to be given the task of ruling Iraq." He said he hoped that Allawi would pave the way for the Baath Party to "return to the political life of Iraq, where we rightfully belong."The majority of Iraqis already see Allawi as an American tool and the 60% Shi'ite majority won't think to highly of an endorsement from the Baath Party. And about that largely Shi'ite Security Force. It will take a division of US soldiers just to keep Allawi alive.
The spokesman, known only as Abu Hala, said the Baath leadership under Saddam's deputy, Izzat al-Douri, were "more than willing to work with Allawi, because we see him as a nationalist and Iraqi patriot, and not a sectarian figure." He said the party didn't agree with all of Allawi's policies when he headed a transitional Iraqi government in 2004, but "we have no doubt that he would represent the interests of Iraq, not of Shi'ites or Sunnis or any other group."