This is my latest article for Truthout.org. Links to follow later.
Less than a mile from where British Prime Minister Tony Blair was gripping and grinning during a surprise visit to Baghdad on Sunday, agents of the extremist factions that he and George W. Bush have empowered, paid and heavily armed were raiding the offices of the Iraqi Red Crescent Agency and rounding up some of the few remaining relief workers in the country who attend to the suffering of all sides. This bold, broad-daylight assault came less than 48 hours after top Red Crescent officials publicly accused U.S. military forces of conducting a series of attacks on the agency's offices around the country during the course of the war.
As the New York Times reports, the Sunday raid followed a grim pattern that is by now well-established in the bloodsoaked capital, and is likely to have the same grim conclusion. The usual "armed men dressed in police commando uniforms" descended on the Red Crescent office just outside the Coalition's Green Zone island of virtual reality and methodically went through the building and seized all the male employees. Seven men were later released, while the rest were taken off to an unknown location.
The "armed men in police commando uniforms" were, of course, police commandos, in this case almost certainly under the control of the Interior Ministry, one of the Shiite enclaves in the sectarian-riddled government. As the NYT notes, "control of the district, in the heart of Baghdad, was given to the Iraqi police in November." The Interior and Defense Ministries, which control the bulk of Iraq's security forces, are in the hands of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the militant Shiite party whose leader, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, was given a warm White House welcome by Bush earlier this month. SCIRI was formed in Iran by Iraqi exiles and touts Khomeini-style clerical rule. Yet because of its long-time willingness to wheel and deal with America's "security organs," it has been a favorite of the invaders throughout the occupation. In a recent TomPaine.com article, Robert Dreyfuss provides this concise summary of the violent extremist's present position in Iraq: "Today al-Hakim controls the SCIRI militia, the Badr Brigade, the Iraqi interior ministry and many of Iraqâ€™s feared death squads. Not to put too fine a point on it, Hakim is a mass murderer." Add a comment