Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki visiting visit with President Obama.
America be warned! He wants something from us and it’s not a friendship.
Beginnings of PM Nuri al-Maliki
In 1979, Saddam Hussein, who was once backed by the United States, gave Maliki a death sentence. So, Maliki packed his bags and went to Syria, then moved to Iran where he lived for nearly 20 years. During this time, he became a senior leader of the Dawa Party. (An Iranian backed, majority Shia political party who were obviously opposed to Saddam Hussein (minority Sunni) and tried to topple his government).
Interesting Dawa Party Facts
One of the founding members of the Dawa Party was Mohammed Baqir al-Sadr (related to our nemesis Muqtada al-Sadr who’s father Muhammad al-Sadr (a good guy) was murdered by Saddam Hussein)
In the 1980s, the Dawa party worked hard to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist government. That is the same Saddam Hussein that we lent $40 Billion US Dollars, in order to fight the Iraq-Iran war. The Dawa party was also linked to several other incidents such as; The 1981 bombing of the Iraqi Embassy in Beirut, and the 1983 simultaneous bombings of the American and French Embassies in Kuwait. Twelve of the 17 men imprisoned for the bombings were Iraqi-Dawa Party members, called the “Kuwaiti 17”. Their prison release was one of the conditions for the freedom of American Hostages during the Iran-Contra scandal, but it did not come to fruition. During Desert Storm in 1991, the Kuwaiti 17 escaped and fled to Iran. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990s they attempted to assassinate Tariq Aziz, Saddam Hussein, and Uday Hussein.
Do these guys sound like terrorists to anyone, or is it just me?
Modern PM Nuri al-Maliki
When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, this was Maliki’s cue to return to Iraq. In 2005, he was elected to the National Assembly during the transitional period of the Iraqi Government; as well as being the senior Shia member of the group that drafted the newest Iraqi Constitution. Subsequently, in 2006, he was elected Prime Minister of Iraq; In an interesting twist of fate, on the 30th of December, 2006, PM Maliki signed the death warrant for Saddam Hussein, stating “Our respect for human rights requires us to execute him”.
For those of you reading this that have a tough time defining irony, this is a good example.
In 2007, to add to his already prestigious list of accomplishments, he was named as the Secretary-General of the Dawa Party.
How I see Nuri al-Maliki
This not the opinion of the US Army, DoD, or the United States Government, but it is the opinion of a concerned citizen and patriotic soldier that proudly serves his country.
I think that America is about to be fleeced by a senior political leader in Iraq, Nuri
al-Maliki; he is a Dawa party member, he is related to terrorist activity, and he is now being supported by the United States. Here in Iraq, people celebrated the Victory of the Occupiers on June 30th 2009, as National Sovereignty Day . This brought about an abrupt change in the basic relationship between the American soldiers on the ground, the average Iraqi, and our Iraqi military counterparts.
Mark my words; Maliki is coming to the United States to do some political palm-greasing. Although,he has claimed victory over the “American Occupiers”, he still needs money, and help re-building infrastructure to develop Iraq.
After 20 years in exile from Iraq, I am willing to bet that his relationship with Iran is not one that fosters the best interests of the United States. I also predict, we will become muddled down by a financially burdening relationship with Iraq, only to be fleeced by the relationship between Iraq and Iran.
What a tangled web we’ve woven for ourselves.
Several years prior to 1958, there were a couple of guys in charge of Iraq; Prime Minister Nuri-al Said and King Faisal II. While they were in charge, Egypt was pushing for a pan-Arab movement while also building a friendship with the Soviet Union (keep this in mind). Said and Faisal II had no interest in this, however, Iraqi Officers and the Iraqi rich believed otherwise.
So, in February of 1958, Egypt and Syria got together and formed the United Arab Republic. But Iraq and Jordan decided they wanted their own multi-Arab state and formed the Arab Federation. Then, Yemen decided to join Egypt and Syria. Confused yet? Think of it as your neighbors on your street. You’re all kind of the same, but have different views, so you go talk to the neighbors who you like, then talk bad about the neighbors you don’t like.
So, since proverbial (and probably literal) lines in the sand had been drawn, Said decided to reinforce the Jordanian Army and send two brigades from Iraq. Unfortunately for PM Said, one of the brigades was led by General Qasim who supported the Egyptian-Syrian relationship. So Qasim and a friend of his, Colonel Arif, decided it would be a good idea, on the way to Jordan, to stop by Baghdad and throw a coup d’état. By noon on July 14th 1958 General Qasim was in charge. In the end, Faisal II, his family and Said were all executed. (Oops!)
Coup completed it was time to set up a new government. It had three groups, Sunni, Shia and Kurdish. Qasim named himself Prime Minister and Minister of Defense (because you can do that when you lead a coup and succeed) and named his buddy Arif as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior. Then he formed a cabinet. Two men represented the National Democratic Party (because this surely sounds like a democracy being installed), one Ba’athist (remember Saddam Hussein was a Ba’athist) and one Marxist (remember, the Soviet Union had its fingers in the Arab punch bowl).
Soon greed and power went to Qasim’s head. Qasim deemed himself the “Sole Leader” of the Iraqi State. Naturally, his old buddy Arif didn’t like this because the whole reason for the coup was to join the Egyptian, Syrian, Yemeni pan Arab state, but Qasim changed his mind.
Qasim wanted to build relations with the Soviet Union, argue with Iran and Kuwait of borders, and generally go against the idea of a pan-Arab state. Over the next several years, backed by the US, the Ba’athist were encouraged to rid Iraq of Qasim by assassination and coups. Who was witness to this? A very young Saddam Hussein, a member of the Ba’ath Party.
On February 8, 1963 fighting between the Ba’athists and Qasim’s supporters broke out and on February 9th, Qasim’s troops were defeated. Qasim surrendered requesting safe passage out of the country. The Ba’athist denied the request and killed him. Involved in this overthrow was none other than Saddam Hussein.
After the coup, Arif became president. In 1964 he decided that all the Ba’athist leaders should be arrested, including Saddam Hussein, who was the Ba’ath Party Secretary. In 1967 Hussein escaped from prison and in 1968 participated in a successful coup to overthrow Arif which was led by guy named al-Bakr.
The United States, seeing Hussein as anti-communist, quietly supported him in his endeavors. Over the years he rose to General in the Iraqi Army, he was the moving force in the modernization of Iraq, and as al-Bakr’s deputy, was able to influence most of the political decisions of Iraq.
In 1979, al-Baker was elderly and could not successfully lead Iraq, so, Hussein seized power. On the 22nd of July, he convened a meeting of Ba’ath Party members and identified 68 people as disloyal and had them executed.
Before we knew it, he led the country into the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88, on credit of 40 billion dollars from the US), invaded Kuwait (1990, not supported by the US), and was pushed back by the US in 1991. Amidst the controversy of Weapons of Mass Destruction and the simple fact that he was a tyrant that threatened the stability of the region, in 2003, the US invaded Iraq and captured Hussein. Subsequently he was tried and executed.
How Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is connected to all of this tomorrow.
Find out how Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki and Former Iraqi Dictator Saddam Hussein were linked back in the 1970’s in my two part series on how we got into this war and what our future with Iraq might look like. See it here tomorrow in the Iron Camel Blog
Poem from My Daughter
Unexpected bombings are likely
Gunshots ringing through the night
Some say we should not fight this war
But it’s for the freedom of people,
That our soldiers fight.
They risk their lives daily
To save lives like yours
Here you live safely
While they kick down doors
They fight for freedom
Men and women just like you
They defend our country
And still will when this is through
They deserve our support
Those who wear courage like a gem
You can stand behind our soldiers
Or you can stand in front of them.
On the 14th of July, Iraq beat Palestine 4-0 in a soccer match. This was the first match since prior to the 2003 invasion. So what does this mean for Iraq? It means they are one step closer to being at peace.
Every day, explosions happen in and around Baghdad; as well as in other cities around Iraq. Every day, someone is killed. However, for a fleeting moment in time, all danger seemed to cease in the microcosm of the soccer stadium. Inside the stadium, everyone was focused on one of Iraqis favorite activities; enjoying time with friends and family. So, with the smell of victory still in the air, fans poured into the streets cheering and celebrating. On the surface, the celebration painted the sporting victory, but the undertones were of this small defeat against terrorism.
Beating terrorism isn’t always tangible. Finding Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), catching terrorists, and finding caches of weapons; are all something that can be counted, touched, and photographed. But it is the act of not emplacing an IED, which cannot be photographed. It is the act of a car bomb not being parked in front of the stadium, which cannot be photographed; it is the act of an explosion not detonating, which cannot be filmed. These non-tangible acts, are the acts that go unnoticed, and usually uncelebrated.
On June 30th, the Iraqis commemorated the first step in coalition forces leaving Iraq. Although never publicly spoken, the average Iraqi will tell you, “It is safe with the coalition forces here. We wish they would stay. They catch a lot of bad people.”
But on July 14th, without the help of Coalition Forces, the Iraqi military stood on its own two feet, and prevented terrorist acts during a day of sportsmanship, celebrations and festivities.
It reminds me about how fortunate we are to live in a country like America. We don’t worry about our family being blown up by an IED. We don’t worry about going to sporting events, and being blown up by a car filled with explosives. And we don’t worry about a sniper trying to kill us, as we park our cars.
So during one soccer match, in one city, in one neighborhood, in one stadium, the Iraqis felt safe and secure; A victory over terrorism.
Once again, we mounted up for a late night mission to a small village in the middle of western Iraq. Through the darkness we moved, the engines of our Iron Camels roaring, unaware of what awaits us at our destination.
Intermingled inside of an Iraqi convoy, nothing stopped us as we blazed down the highways. We sped past checkpoints, through towns, and watch as civilian vehicles pull over and keep their distance from us. Inside our Humvee, the radios are quiet. Everyone was tired and hot. It was a long day that parleyed into a longer evening.
An hour later, our convoy, 30 vehicles strong, poured into this tiny village, quickly followed by another convoy almost as large. In the distance, the surreal vision of vehicles covered in high powered lights, searched the nooks and crannies of the roadway looking for IEDs.
By 2:00 am, we were on foot following behind the Iraqi General leading the mission. As he walked down the street, he acted as if he owned them hands behind his back, chin held high, conversing with his staff and an American Colonel.
As we advanced down the street, his soldiers entered homes. First knocking on doors, then, if no one answered, they would let themselves inside. After a quick and not very thorough search, the soldiers would move to the next house and the next one after that. Throughout the garbage laden streets they did the same thing, over and over all night long. I looked around trying to find anything suspicious. It’s a weird feeling walking the streets of a neighborhood in a foreign country filled with people that want to kill you. It’s so easy to be taken out. You can never see into all of the dark corners. You can only do your best. But there is that one time that your best might not be good enough, and it only takes once.
When the general reached the end of the street, we all stood around a hole. The hole was about three feet deep by about 4 feet across. The general reached in, pulled out some plastic, and discussed the story around the hole.
The day prior, an individual was emplacing an IED and it went off. It blew the guy up right in the middle of the street and killed him. Good. Another one bites the dust. I hate terrorists. They’re pussies. The search we were doing was a simply a reactionary measure to see if we could find anything else in the village related to the IED.
By daybreak we were finished. The General broke for breakfast and then returned to the village to retrieve his soldiers. There was one arrest of a thief was made based off of information totally unrelated to the IED. The General’s soldiers displayed about six illegal rifles they found throughout their searches.
Anti-climactic and unceremoniously, we left.