Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Report: Overseer office created by Maliki enfocrcing sectarian agenda at defense, interior ministries

Above and Left: Iraqi National police 'detain' Sunnis in Baghdad on March 28. While the Army is under the control of the Ministry of Defense, the Iraqi National Police and FPS (Facilities Protection Service) are under the control of the Ministry of Interior. Numbering in the tens of thousands, both are made up heavily of Shia members, and there are widespread reports of sectarian bias and militia infiltration. The FPS force, for instance, is notorious for participation in sectarian torture and murder. As recently as the end of November the Washington Post labeled it as providing the 'manpower for sectarian party militias and death squads' and Iraq's Interior Minister blamed it for the majority of violence in Baghdad. In December, Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who is in charge of training Iraqi forces, said 25% of the force needed to be expunged. At about the same time, Vice President Hashemi labeled the FPS as 'being filled with sectarian militias, terrorists and organized crime gangs'. Both Iraqi National Police and the FPS take part in joint patrols with U.S. forces. Under 'emergency powers' (martial law) declared by Maliki over large swaths of Iraq, citizens can be detained on suspicion, without charges, and held indefinitely without trial.

Iraq's prime minister has created an entity within his government that U.S. and Iraqi military officials say is being used behind a smokescreen to carry out an extreme Shiite agenda that is worsening the country's sectarian divide.

The "Office of the Commander in Chief" has the power to overrule other government ministries, according to U.S. military and intelligence sources.

Those sources say the 24-member office is abusing its power, increasingly overriding decisions made by the Iraqi Ministries of Defense and Interior and potentially undermining the entire U.S. effort in Iraq.

The Office, as it is known in Baghdad, was set up about four months ago with the knowledge of American forces in Iraq. Its goal is ostensibly to advise Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki -- the nation's new commander in chief -- on military matters.

According to a U.S. intelligence source, the Office is "ensuring the emplacement of commanders it favors and can control, regardless of what the ministries want."

Read the rest at CNN

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