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16,000 Detainees in Coalition Hands; Iraqi Shiites attempt to Regroup
by juan cole (reposted)
Saturday Mar 17th, 2007 9:16 AM

Saturday, March 17, 2007

16,000 Detainees in Coalition Hands
Iraqi Shiites attempt to Regroup

11 detainees in a British jail in south Iraq exchanged clothing with their visitors and escaped.

Ed Wong at NYT has an excellent piece on Iranian economic relations with Iraq. Every politician who talks about "limiting Iranian influence" in Iraq should read this article first.

Nothing better exemplifies the slave-like conditions of statelessness faced by Palestinian refugees from Israeli conquests of their land than the plight of Palestinians in Iraq. Reuters calls their situation a catch-22.

Reuters reports that the United Iraqi Alliance, a coalition of Shiite fundamentalist parties, is regrouping after the defection from its ranks of the small Islamic Virtue Party (Fadhila), which has 15 seats in parliament. UIA spokesmen seemed confident that the rest of the party would hold together. It groups the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Islamic Call (Da'wa) Party of PM Nuri al-Maliki, the Sadrists, the Islamic Action Council of Ayatollah Mudarrisi, and some Shiite independents. This article's optimistic tone is strange given that al-Maliki has announced that he will purge his cabinet of 5 of the 6 Sadrist ministers, and that the Sadrist bloc in parliament, 32 members strong, have threatened to withdraw from his coalition if he does so. Al-Maliki stays in power, in the case, only because of Kurdish backing. If the UIA breaks up, and if the Kurds change their minds, Iyad Allawi is waiting in the wings to take over Iraq. An ex-Baathist secularist who criticizes Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and has bad relations with Iran, Allawi is alluring to the Bush administration. But cutting the majority Shiites out of power would certainly accelerate their move toward a provincial confederacy in the south and could cause turmoil and break up the country.

Walter Pincus at WaPo says that the US is planning to take a lot of prisoners in Iraq over the next few months.

Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that Iraqi government sources admit that the United States and Britian hold 16,000 prisoners in Iraq, and that the Ministry of the Interior has a further 50,000 detainees, many of them arrested in the past month or so as part of the new security plan. Al-Zaman maintains that most of these arrests are arbitrary, based on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist organization, and are extra-judicial. The Iraqi judiciary is not consulted because the Iraqi government has declared a state of emergency. The detainees have no right to a lawyer.

Police found 9 bodies in Baghdad on Friday. Mortar fire and militia clashes affected some districts. There was a bombing in Kirkuk.

Someone sent me a link for a Barack Obama wiki.