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Occupation and Rule in Iraq


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Iraq's Election Result: a Divided Nation (December 21, 2005)

While official election results may take weeks to confirm, preliminary tallies show the Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance winning well over 50 percent in the Shiite center and south, with Sunni and Kurdish groups winning majorities in their respective regions. In Baghdad, Iraq's leading secular block, Iyad Allawi's Iraqi National List, favored by the US, won only 14 percent of the vote. As the Independentpoints out, the majority of election participants voted as Shiites, Sunnis or Kurds. Instead of being a benchmark of US policy success, as portrayed by President George Bush, Iraq's parliamentary election marks the "final shipwreck" of US and British plans for a pliant, secular, and pro-Western Iraq.

What to Expect in Iraq after the December 15 Elections (December 14, 2005)

According to Power and Interest News Report, the December 15 parliamentary elections will do little to unify Iraq. As a minority, Sunnis will probably not be able to ensure a strong, centralized state, despite high voter turnout. Kurds, though highly unified, represent an even smaller segment and largely seek to consolidate their autonomy. The United Iraqi Alliance, a religious Shiite coalition that holds a majority in Iraq's transitional government, will probably retain many of its seats, though it suffers from internal fractions and dwindling public support in response to its perceived failures. Given Iraq's vague and controversial constitution, it is unlikely that a new government will be able to effectively govern Iraq.

Abuse Cited In 2nd Jail Operated by Iraqi Ministry (December 12, 2005)

Iraqi officials have accused the Interior Ministry of torture and prisoner abuse for the second time in a month following an Iraqi government search of a Baghdad detention center. The new abuses involve13 prisoners with broken bones, cigarette burns, and extracted finger nails, and are in general more severe than earlier cases. As with the previous abuse case, the prisoners were mostly Sunnis, in the custody of the Shiite-dominated Interior Ministry. Despite calling for an investigation, the Iraqi government has not taken any disciplinary action, and US officials remain divided over the responsibility of US troops to interfere. (Washington Post)

Kurdish Oil Deal Shocks Iraq's Political Leaders (December 1, 2005)

The Kurdistan Democratic Party has signed a deal with Norwegian oil firm DNO over new oil exploration and drilling in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq. The agreement, one of the first of its kind since the US-led invasion in 2003, was made without the involvement of Iraq's central government. Given Iraq's sectarian tensions and ambiguous constitution, the deal highlights the potential controversies between the regional and central governments over energy policy and oil control. (Los Angeles Times)

Sectarian Hatred Pulls Apart Iraq's Mixed Towns (November 20, 2005)

Two and a half years after the US-led invasion, Iraqi society faces growing segregation. Towns where Sunnis and Shiites once coexisted have begun to disappear, as many families flee bombings, assassinations and arrests in search of more ethnically homogenous locales. Though relocation may provide families with security in the short term, the geographical entrenchment of sectarian differences may have dangerous consequences for Iraq's future. (New York Times)

Police, Civil Servants in Iraq Punished for not Voting (November 18, 2005)

Citing a "democratic duty" to go to the polls, Kurdish officials have admitted arresting or firing government employees for choosing not to vote in Iraq's constitutional referendum. Some officials, who believed the constitution did not go far enough in providing for an independent Kurdish state, opted not to vote rather than vote "no" on Iraq's constitution. Regulations under the Independent Electoral Commission in Iraq protect government employees' right to participate in or abstain from elections, and many of the accused called the punishments a violation of democratic principles. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)

Iraqi Torture Practices Could Be More Widespread (November 17, 2005)

While the discovery of one hundred seventy-three mostly-Sunni detainees in an Interior Ministry building basement sent shockwaves throughout Iraq, many experts believe torture and abuse are much more widespread. The use of torture by US forces, along with the rise of sectarian militias and the polarization of Iraqi government have all contributed to the "institutionalization" of torture and abuse. (Christian Science Monitor)

Torture Alleged at Ministry Site Outside Baghdad (November 16, 2005)

The Iraqi government is investigating new reports of torture by the Iraqi police. One hundred seventy-three Iraqi detainees were found, some paralyzed or with skin peeling of their bodies, in the basement of an Interior Ministry Building in Baghdad. The allegations do little to ease sectarian conflict or promote Iraq's government: the mostly-Sunni prisoners were being held by Shiite police officers. The news also comes at a bad time for US officials, who are facing fresh claims of detainee abuse including sexual humiliation, mock executions, and the use of live lions in interrogations. (New York Times)

Sectarian Resentment Extends to Iraq's Army (October 12, 2005)

The 1st Brigade of the 6th Iraqi Division is one of the only Iraqi forces with its own area of operations and a competent command structure at the brigade level. As such, US commanders often cite it as a model for the Iraqi army's future. In its responsibility to secure Sunni-dominated western Baghdad, however, the mostly-Shiite force resembles a sectarian militia more than a national army, and the brigade's command sergeant major, Hassan Kadhum, has openly alluded to civil war. (Knight Ridder)

Deal in Iraq Raises Hopes for Passage of Constitution (October 12, 2005)

With heavy influence from US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Iraqi lawmakers have agreed to changes to assuage Sunni opposition. If the constitution passes, lawmakers can still modify the document following elections in December for a permanent government. If it fails, the national assembly will dissolve, new elections will take place, and a second constitution will be drafted. Given the expected increase in Sunni representation following the December parliamentary elections, these changes mark a last-ditch effort to preserve a constitution shaped by US interests. (Washington Post)

Iraqis Reverse Disputed Rules on Referendum (October 6, 2005)

Iraq's National Assembly has agreed to reverse changes that were made to voting rules on the constitutional referendum. The initial change would have required two-thirds of all registered voters, opposed to actual voters, in 3 out of the country's 18 provinces to vote no in order for the constitution to be blocked. Sunni leaders threatened to boycott the referendum while the UN condemned the changes, saying the new rules failed to meet international standards. (New York Times)

Iraq's President Calls for PM to Step Down (October 2, 2005)

Iraq's government is torn by conflict on the eve of elections over a draft constitution. Iraq's President, Jalal Talabani has called on Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafaari to relinquish his post. Furthermore, Shiite and Kurdish leaders have adopted new voting rules that anger Sunnis and make opposition to the constitution much more difficult. (Associated Press)

Unmaking Iraq: A Constitutional Process Gone Awry (September 26, 2005)

The rush to adopt a constitution has exacerbated sectarian differences in Iraq. This process has marginalized consensus while weakening the document itself, and threatens the country with increased violence if nothing is done to ease ethnic divisions. (International Crisis Group)

Iraq's Charter Reflects a Deeper Arab Ordeal (September 3, 2005)

As Iraqis negotiate their draft constitution, Rami Khouri discusses the future of the country, US neocolonial involvement, and Iraq's deepened sectarian differences. The author anticipates violence and possibly civil war, while questioning the viability of a unified Iraqi state. (Daily Star - Lebanon)

Sadr's Disciples Rise Again to Play Pivotal Role in Iraq (August 30, 2005)

The Washington Postreports that the US has released from prison several top aides of Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr. This move has revitalized Sadr's movement, which the article describes as "a mix of Iraqi and Arab nationalism, millenarian religious ideology, grass-roots protest and gun culture." Sadr's movement openly confronts the occupation by organizing mass protests, and competes for influence with the less confrontational Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

Christian Enclave Ties Future to Life Outside (August 11, 2005)

According to this Reutersreport, the almost entirely Christian town of Ankawa "has become a bastion of that declining -- some say dying -- community in mainly Muslim Iraq." Since the Gulf War of 1991, the Christian community in Iraq has dwindled from around 1 million people to its current number of roughly 600,000. Christians have been fleeing abroad in increasing numbers following the 2003 US-UK invasion because of militant Muslim attacks on Christian churches and businesses selling alcohol.

A City With Three Chips on Its Shoulder (August 10, 2005)

Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmens all campaign for political primacy in oil-rich Kirkuk. The friction stems from the area's shifting demographics in modern history. Turkmens made up a majority of the population until after World War II, when many Kurds came to the city to work in the oil industry. Later, Saddam Hussein pursued an "arabization" policy which forced Kurds out of Kirkuk and distributed their property among Arab families. Kurds now want to make Kirkuk the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, but are meeting resistance from Turkmens and Arabs. (New York Times)

For Kurds, a United Iraq Means Settling for Less (August 10, 2003)

This article warns of a "Kurdish falling out with the Iraqi political process" because Kurds' political demands conflict with those of Sunnis and Shiites. For example, Kurds insist on regional, not central, control of oil revenues. They also object to Shiite demands for Islamic features in the new constitution, and they want the right to hold a referendum on independence. The US has been heavily involved in the drafting of the constitution, and the Kurds see the US as appeasing Sunnis and Shiites at their expense. (Daily Star - Lebanon)

US Relies on Local Leaders in Rural Iraq (August 1, 2005)

The US military increasingly depends on tribal leaders in rural Iraq to maintain order and security. The military calls the cooperation with local sheikhs a pragmatic tactic which has reduced the frequency of violent insurgent attacks. Critics note, however, that the reliance on tribal structures undermines local government institutions and gives more power to leaders who hold conservative views on Islam and women's rights. (Associated Press)

Iraqi Kurds Demand Say over Northern Oilfields (July 29, 2005)

According to the Kurdish Iraqi Planning Minister, provincial governments should wield more control over their regions' oilfields. He said that Iraqi central government management of the oil sector leads to the "unjust distribution of wealth and resources." Kurds are lobbying the Iraqi constitutional drafting committee for such a devolution, which would allow the provinces to deal directly with foreign oil companies, and would give more power to Kurdish and Shiite provincial leaders. (Reuters)

Surviving in Baquba… (July 28, 2005)

This article reports rising sectarian tensions in Baquba, a city north of Baghdad with roughly equal numbers of Sunnis and Shiites. US military officials there bar Sunnis from the Iraqi security forces and the police, fearing infiltration by insurgents. As a result, Shiites and Kurds dominate the city's security forces, and their heavy-handed tactics alienate Sunnis and worsen relations between religious sects. (Le Nouvel Observateur)

"Who's the Enemy?" Distraught Iraqis Wonder (July 25, 2005)

US-trained Iraqi security forces often behave as violently as criminals, say Iraqis. This article describes incidents of police brutality, and notes that Iraqi officials and foreign diplomats have admitted the gravity of the problem. Furthermore, the US deploys Shiite security forces to police Sunni areas, increasing sectarian tensions between the two groups. (Reuters)

Iraqi Official Appeals for Greater US Role (June 3, 2005)

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has requested a greater US role on four key political and military issues, including the crafting of Iraq's constitution. In talks with the US Vice President and Secretary of State, Zebari also said the US had pulled back too much in Iraq, and called on Washington to play a more "engaged" role in Iraqi affairs. Iraqi officials fear that a lack of Sunni support for the constitution may lead to civil war, and want the US administration to ask other Sunni leaders--such as the heads of Egypt and Jordan--to convince Iraqi Sunnis to end their boycott of the political process. (Washington Post)

Iraqis Lament a Call for Help (May 17, 2005)

When tribal leaders from towns near the Iraqi border with Syria asked for US assistance in stemming the tide of foreign jihadis entering the country across the unprotected border, US forces responded with a massive assault that did not distinguish between friendly Iraqis and foreign fighters. US troops flattened neighborhoods and killed Iraqis who supported the US effort, prompting tribal leaders to wish they had never asked for US assistance. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

US Is Its Own Worst Enemy in Iraq (May 17, 2005)

In this Los Angeles Timesop-ed, Robert Scheer contends that "the US presence [in Iraq] is the fuel for the conflagration it claims to be stamping out." The US has succeeded in uniting two groups that have long been opposed to each other--jihadis and secular Baathists--in an insurgency marked by chaos. And though US officials "have bought into the fantasy that the January elections proved that a stable, democratic Iraq (...) is just around the corner," a continuing US presence in Iraq will simply further stimulate violence.


Fallujah Battle Deepens Divide in Iraq (November 15, 2004)

The US attack on Fallujah will likely widen the gap between Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites. The Head of a conservative Sunni organization charged that Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi had launched "a war on Sunnis" in Fallujah. Allawi brushed aside suggestions of a divided Iraqi people, claiming that "there is no problem of Sunnis or Shiites, this is all Iraqis against the terrorists." (Associated Press)

Kurds Enjoy Peaceful Corner of Iraq (November 2, 2004)

In contrast to cities like Baghdad and Falluja where the security situation has deteriorated rapidly, Iraq's Kurdish northern regions have largely avoided attacks. But Washington cannot claim the relative peace in Iraqi Kurdistan. It is rather the result of a regional government with which the people identify, says Aziz Weysi, commander of Special Forces of the Kurdish army in northwestern Iraq. However, experts on the region wonder what will happen to Iraqi Kurds once the US occupiers leave. (International Herald Tribune)

Iraqi South Threatens Secession (August 10, 2004)

Responding to the US military operation in Najaf, Basra Deputy Governor Salam Uda al-Maliki called for the separation of Basra, Misan and Dhi Qar governorates from the central government in Baghdad. Al-Maliki contends that innocent Iraqis are suffering and are dying at the hands of "an illegal and unelected government, and occupation forces who claimed they came to liberate Iraq." (al-Jazeera)

Church Bombings Outrage Iraqis of All Faiths (August 3, 2004)

US President George Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair assert that Iraq is safer following the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime. However, the bombing of Christian churches by insurgents in Baghdad and Mosul proves otherwise. The attacks mark the first time in Iraq's history that Christians were the targets of large-scale violence. (Washington Post)

The Battle the US Wants to Provoke (April 6, 2004)

Does the argument of an imminent civil war between the Shiites, Sunnites and Kurds hold water? As the security situation continues to deteriorate throughout the country, Naomi Klein argues the US-led occupational authority itself threatens to provoke a war between coalition forces and the Shiites and Sunnites opposing the occupation. (Guardian)

Sunnis Need Breathing Space Before Any Iraq Polls (February 13, 2004)

In a post-war political spectrum dominated by the Shiites and Kurds, Iraq's Sunni population is afraid of being "swept away by the Shi'ites." This article argues that the Sunni, traditionally associated with the Saddam Hussein regime, do not have established political leaders and will lack proper representation in the new Iraq. (Reuters)

Division of Iraq Would Likely Breed Regional Instability (January 28, 2004)

This Power and Interest News Reportarticle examines likely scenarios resulting from a division of Iraq into three separate states. The article argues that an autonomous Kurdish state would spark conflict with Turkey and Syria, while Iran would gain increased control and influence over the Shiite population thereby strengthening its bargaining position in the Middle East.

Kurds Head Towards Separation Up North (January 15, 2004)

The Kurds in Northern Iraq are proposing a Kurdish Federation that would result in a binational federation of Kurds and Arabs in Iraq. This proposal is drawing deep concern among Iraq's neighbors, in particular Trukey, Iran and Syria, who worry that this may lead to uprisings in their own borders. However, Inter Press Service argues that the Kurds believe that "the United States owes a favor to the Kurds for their support against Saddam Hussein."

Sunnis Feel Chill In New Iraq (January 8, 2004)

The arrest of Saddam Hussein remains a divisive subject in the Sunni district of Adhamiya. The Christian Science Monitor argues that the US promise of free elections may leave the Sunni population without a united voice. They fear "being dominated by the Shiite majority and Kurds closely allied with the US."


Iraqi Force Elicits Hope - and Fear (December 9, 2003)

Sunni clerics say the planned counterinsurgency battalion consisting of Shiite and Kurdish fighters will aggravate Iraq's strained sectarian and ethnic relationships. The coalition forces leave the Sunnis out of the battalion for fear of susceptibility to infiltration by Hussein loyalists or other "unwanted" elements. (Christian Science Monitor)

US Occupation of Iraq Faces Both Old and New Resistance (August 31, 2003)

Power and Interest News Reportquestions Washington's ability to simultaneously handle growing resistance to occupation and centuries-long tensions between fragmented ethnic groups.

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FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.