The inveterate Knight Ridder reporter in Iraq, Tom Lasseter, has an important account of the new sectarian militia, sometimes referred to as the Iraqi Army: Sectarian resentment extends to Iraq’s army, undermining security.
But day to day, the Iraqi officers mostly run their own show, carrying out most of the patrols and running checkpoints without help. Increasingly, however, they look and operate less like an Iraqi national army unit and more like a Shiite militia….
“When we are in charge of security the people will follow a law that says you will be sentenced to prison if you speak against the government, and for people like Saleh Mutlak [A Sunni leader] there will be execution,” Zubaidi said….
“Even if you people, you Sunnis, roll tanks on our heads we will not give this country back to you,” Mousawi said. “It’s ours now.”
Some Iraqi troops went a step further, saying they were only awaiting word from the marja’iya before turning on American forces. Although many Shiites are grateful for the overthrow of Saddam, they also are suspicious of U.S. motives. Those suspicions partly stem from the failure of the first Bush administration to support a U.S.-encouraged Shiite uprising against Saddam in 1991. Saddam suppressed it and slaughtered thousands.
“In Amariyah last week, a car bomb hit a U.S. Humvee and their soldiers began to shoot randomly. They killed a lot of innocent civilians. I was there; I saw it,” said Sgt. Fadhal Yahan. “This happens all the time. If they keep doing this, the people will attack them. And we are part of the people.”
Sgt. Jawad Majid chimed in: “We have our marja’iya and we are waiting for them to decide when the time to fight (the Americans) is, when it is no longer time to be silent.”
“Thousands and thousands of Shiites are being killed, which is why they’re joining the army,” Sabri said. “Just let us have our constitution and elections in December and then we will do what Saddam did – start with five people from each neighborhood and kill them in the streets and then go from there.”
Asked if he worried about possible fighting between his men and the Sunnis at Umm al Qura, the brigade’s command sergeant major, Hassan Kadhum, smiled.
“Your country had to have a civil war,” he said. “It will be the same here. Everything in this world has its price. In Iraq the price for peace will be blood.”
1 comment October 13th, 2005