Iraq really was the cradle of mankind and home to the earliest known civilization on Earth, the Sumerians, who lived in the fertile Tigris-Euphrates river valley of southern Iraq in the mid-6th century BC.
But the question is, “Does Mr. Maliki’s conduct in office merit such value? And how independent has Iraq been under his rule”? In recent unfolding “developments” the answer to this fundamental question which can determine the future policy and destiny of the Iraqi people and regional stability has been discouraging.
As US forces reduce their presence in Iraq in preparation for an ultimate withdrawal in 2010, it is vital to guarantee that the handover process is not manipulated by the Iranian regime, which has from the beginning been the main threat to Iraqi sovereignty and independence. This guarantee can only be symbolized and engineered by the “President in office.” At the moment, no admitted fact can approve of Mr. Maliki’s independence of action with regards to his neighbor’s strategy.
Here are some facts:
– Following the recent incident, “Black Wednesday,” on 19 August, there is a strong belief among many Iraqi officials and others that the Iranian regime was behind these explosions, using them as a way to make their presence felt, in an ominous effort to influence the internal policies of the Iraqi government.
Gen. Mohammad Shalwani, the head of Iraq’s intelligence service recently resigned “Because of what he viewed as Maliki’s attempts to undermine his service and allow Iranian spies to operate freely.” As a result, key members of the intelligence service are “fleeing for safety in Jordan, Egypt and Syria – fearing that they will be targets of Iranian hit teams if they remain in Iraq.”
Robert Drefus – 8.25.09
“Iraq’s Shiite religious parties, most with ties to Iran, have re-established a political bloc called the Iraqi National Alliance… Maliki is heavily vested in ties to Iran and its intelligence services… He got votes from Iraqis who were unhappy with their country’s religious-right drift and who rejected ISCI and its allies… a well-placed former Iraqi official told me that Maliki felt strong enough to tell the founders of the Iraqi National Alliance that he’d refuse to join unless they let him run the show, with a guarantee that he’d be reelected as prime minister if the Alliance wins a majority in the January, 2010, election.”
The only possible explanation as to why Maliki is not keen to go into the alliance again is that Iraqis are sick and tired of Shiite religious claptrap affiliated to Iran.
David Ignatius in the Washingtonpost:
“Iran’s links with Maliki are so close, said this Iraqi intelligence source, that the prime minister uses an Iranian jet with an Iranian crew for his official travel. The Iranians are said to have sent Maliki an offer to help his Dawa Party win at least 49 seats in January’s parliamentary elections if Maliki will make changes in his government that Iran wants.”
“Forensic evidence points to a possible Iranian role, according to an Iraqi intelligence source, [who] said that signatures of the C-4 explosive residues that have been found at the bomb sites are similar to those of Iranian-made explosives that have been captured in Kut, Nasiriyah, Basra and other Iraqi cities since 2006.”
Council on foreign relations: Iran’s Goals in Iraq
“The 12,000-strong Badr Brigades, reportedly continues to receive financial and training support from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Sunni Arabs accuse Iraqi leaders of allowing Badr members to infiltrate Iraq’s security forces and carry out sectarian violence. Iran also supports Sadr’s Mahdi Army… Tehran also has a commercial stake in Iraq’s future. Iranian businessmen are buying up property in southern Iraq. In addition, a large number of Iranians also make religious pilgrimages to Iraqi holy places, and the Iranian government has an interest in ensuring their security.”
Alsharq alawsat : Iran plundering Iraqi oil fields
“The report issued by the Iraqi Oil Ministry confirmed that one of the reasons for the decrease in Iraqi oil production is that the oil fields along the border with Iran are not being utilized by Iraq, and instead these oil fields are being used by neighbouring countries.
UPI Iraq accuses Iran of stealing its oil – 4.02.09
“Iraq’s Foreign Ministry says it has passed on a letter of warning to Tehran regarding accusations Iran is illegally pumping Iraqi oil.”
These facts and figures are countless…
Apart from the above mentioned negative developments, other ominous incidents have also proved the Maliki grip on Iraqi sovereignty too loose that he is too incompetent to withstand the upcoming elections.
One distinguishing factor heating this debate is Mr. Maliki’s recent behaviour towards the much publicized “Ashraf Camp” issue
Huffington Post: 7.29.09
“Tehran cheered the operation (attack on civilian refugee camp Ashraf), raising worrying questions about how Iraq can balance relations with its two closest allies, Iran and the U.S.”
Under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, upholding Iraqi sovereignty is not only contradictory with realising Humanitarian Rights of the 36 hostages and Camp Ashraf residents but a distinctive “Ultimate test” for Mr.Maliki to prove his loyalty to Iraqi independence of action, integrity and cultural values as well as Humanitarian ethics.
If he fails, Mr. Maliki will face not only disappointed patriots but international courts willed by families of those victimized in this incident.
Recent behaviour of Maliki has proved the second most probable:
So far 3 Iraqi Court Judgments calling for immediate release of 36 frail hostages taken from the camp have been forcefully rejected by Maliki in person, leaving the poor hostages with no other alternative other than to begin a “Dry Hunger Strike.” This with no doubt would only prize the Iraqi people with a Humanitarian catastrophe on their soil for the first time in the history of Iraq, manned by their President.
For the Iraqi people there is unremitting deduction that Mr. Maliki is non-other than the “wolf with the red cloak”, delivering Iraq on a golden plate to its neighbour: Iran.
Since yesterday International organisations and monitoring bodies have been issuing press releases condemning Mr. Maliki’s “over riding Iraqi law” in favour of the Iranian regime demands to prevent the flow of law and release the hostages.
Despite these assurances and in breach of its obligations under international humanitarian law, Iraqi forces attacked Ashraf on 28-29 July 2009. During the assault, Iraqi forces killed 11 residents and wounded a further 450, 43 of them seriously. Of the 43 seriously wounded, 14 residents suffered gunshot wounds, 13 had been run over by military vehicles and a further 16 had suffered other injuries, including serious head injuries. Following the attacks, 36 Ashraf residents were forcibly removed from Ashraf and were detained in Iraqi prisons. The Iraqi government is threatening to return the people of Ashraf, political dissidents against the Iranian regime, back to Iran where they face certain persecution, torture and even execution
Thousands of public letters, media alerts, opinions and statements by International organizations and UN monitoring systems only prove the following conclusion:
Mr. Maliki has breached his obligations to the people of Ashraf under international human rights law and international humanitarian law. In particular, Iraqi government armed forces have breached international human rights law and committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions by violating the right to life, freedom from torture and inhuman treatment, unlawful confinement and the failure to grant a fair trial. There is a serious risk that the people of Ashraf will be forcibly displaced in Iraq or removed to Iran, where they face certain persecution, torture and even execution. Should the Iraqi government implement its stated policy and agreement with Iran and return the people of Ashraf to Iran, Iraq will commit a grave breach of international humanitarian law, and arguably, a crime against humanity.
The account of events leading to the attack on the camp Ashraf – listed below – illustrates that the assault on Ashraf between 28 and 30 July 2009 by Iraqi forces was not, as the Iraqi government suggests, to set up a police station in Ashraf. In fact, it was the culmination of a lengthy campaign by the Iraqi government aimed at destroying the camp at Asraf. This campaign has been conducted pursuant to political considerations involving Iraq’s relationship with Iran and Iranian attempts to repress all forms of political opposition outside of Iran.
Background to the critical situation in Ashraf:
on 2 July 2004
After 16 months of screening, US announced Ashraf Camp residents as “protected persons” under 4th Geneva convention
ICRC has reiterated that the residents of Ashraf City must not be deported, expelled, or repatriated
UNHCR has also repeatedly appealed to the competent Iraqi authorities and to the MNF-I to refrain from any action that could endanger the life or security of Ashraf residents
UNAMI report in October 2007; residents must non-voluntary not be deported, expelled or repatriated in violation of the principle of non-refoulement or displaced
Over the past years, the Iranian regime has repeatedly sought to have Ashraf closed and Ashraf’s residents forcibly sent to Iran by exerting pressure on the Iraqi Government. In turn, the Maliki Government cut food, fuel and medicine provisions to Ashraf in 2005, forcing the Ashraf residents to purchase all provisions from the black market.
On 8 February 2008, the water pumping station that pumped water into Ashraf was bombed by agents of the Iranian regime
On 26 May 2008, the Iranian regime fired Grad missiles at Ashraf
As a result of concerns raised by the directive and statements made by Iraqi officials regarding expulsion of Ashraf residents, Amnesty International issued a public statement on 28 August 2008 entitled, “Iraq: No Iranians in need of protection should be sent to Iran against their will.”
The Iranian regime’s Ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Kazemi Qomi told the regime’s Fars News Agency on 9 September 2008 that he had “stressed on the expulsion of members of the grouplet [PMOI] within six months and prohibition of all its activities until it is expelled
20 February 2009
The transfer of security in Iraq from US to Iraqi forces after the conclusion of the Status of Forces Agreement was finalised on this date
1 January 2009
Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, stated, “Iraq is determined to put an end to this organization [PMOI] because it is affecting relations between Iran and Iraq
23 January 2009
The French news agency AFP; quoted Muwafaq al-Rubaie as saying “among the members of this group, some have the blood of Iraqi innocents on their hands (and) we will hand them over to Iraqi justice”
Quoted Maliki as saying the decision to close down Ashraf within two months is “irreversible.” He added, Ashraf will be “part of history within two months”
The US military shot down an Iranian regime drone just three miles from Ashraf. The drone is believed to have been intended to target Ashraf.
28 February 2009
( five months to the day of the 28 July assault on Ashraf )Ali Khamenei, told Maliki; “the mutual agreement regarding the expulsion of the Monafeqin [a term used by the Iranian regime to describe the PMOI] from Iraq… must be implemented and we are waiting for it”
15 March 2009
A group of Iraqi forces at the gates of Ashraf attacked two of the residents (Abdol-Ali Mohammadi and Noureddin Navid) with electric batons and attempted to handcuff them.
On 20 April 2009
Amnesty International expressed in a public statement: Dr Muwaffaq al-Rubaie reportedly made an interview with al-Forat, in which he said that the authorities intend gradually to make the continued presence of the Camp Ashraf residents “intolerable.”
24 April 20
European Parliament issued a resolution called “on the Iraqi Government to end its blockade of the camp, to respect the legal status of the Camp Ashraf residents as protected persons under the Geneva Conventions, and to refrain from any action that would endanger their life or security, i.e. to afford them full access to food, water, medical care and supplies, fuel, family members and international humanitarian organizations”
26 July 2009
Addition to the Iraqi forces stationed at Ashraf, which consisted of a police battalion and an army battalion, additional forces were brought to Ashraf from al-Khalis, Baquba and Baghdad. The operation was commanded by Gen. Abdolhossein Shemmari (Damouk). The battalions that arrived to conduct the assault were armed with a variety of weapons, including firearms, sickles, axes, planks of wood (some with nails and other pieces of metal embedded), batons, metal bars, knives, chains, plastic cables, rubber tubing, tear gas, pepper spray and sound flash grenades (sonic grenades) as well as 11 humvees, 13 police trucks, 11 armoured personnel carriers, as well as bulldozers and water cannon vehicles – humvees were used to run over defenceless people in the camp.
The residents of Ashraf are unarmed. The nature of the weapons carried by the Iraqi forces, the level of violence used and the demolition of fences and buildings in Ashraf is inconsistent with Iraqi government claims (and post hoc justification for the attacks) that they were merely entering Ashraf to set up a police station.
– At 15:00 local time (17:00 hours GMT), the Iraqi forces commenced their assault on Ashraf, which lasted three days and has left tens and more video clips, photos and hundreds of pages of documents showing 9 killed, 36 abducted illegally, 500 apparent wounded and more than a 1000 injured.
– Iraqi forces also attempted to forcibly remove two female residents. Many female residents of Ashraf have reported Farsi speaking Iraqi forces encouraging each other to kidnap female residents. Other female residents have reported that members of the Iraqi forces threatened them and other female residents with sexual assault and rape.
– 1 August, after onslaught; reporters from Reuters, AFP, Associated Press, al-Arabiya, al-Shariqiya, al-Hurra TV and al-Sabah were temporarily permitted to enter Ashraf. However, when they demanded to see Ashraf residents, including the wounded and the dead, they had their material confiscated and then were forced to leave the camp.
– 2 August, the 36 Ashraf residents forcibly moved and held in a facility just outside Ashraf were transferred to al-Khalis police station. Until then, they had been held in a 3x4m room and were stated to have been beaten and tortured. Their cries are said to have been heard in Ashraf
– Maliki government staged mullah style media releases suggesting some police forces were attacked by -defenceless victims of the purge and following that organised witnesses to testify Ashraf residents were firing their own friends in the back thus causing death of the 9 victims. All were subverted by media reports.
– 36 Hostages attempted to safeguard their rights by a Hunger strike which has up to now lasted 62 days. During this period of time, a global campaign has begun to pertain the rights of the hostages to be freed since the bases of their abduction as been “politically motivated by Maliki.” 100 people are on hunger strike daily in 15 cities of the world, and so far tens of protests have been held, hundreds of letters written to Maliki office, UNHCR, and the MNF-I in Iraq addressing the issue as a critical humanitarian one to be resolved immediately.
So far there have been 3 Dyalae Court Judgments rejecting claims by the Maliki government – furnished on a non legal basis – against the 36 frail hostages asking for their immediate release.
On all occasions, Mr. Maliki himself – serving personal interests – has declined to release them.