They do things differently in Iraq

I guess it’s time we just accept it: Iraq’s not going to be a democracy as we know it (or anything even close) anytime soon. This is wild, and makes me wonder whether Allawi’s going to be much better than Saddam Hussein.

Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings.

They say the prisoners – handcuffed and blindfolded – were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security centre, in the city’s south-western suburbs.

They say Dr Allawi told onlookers the victims had each killed as many as 50 Iraqis and they “deserved worse than death”.

The Prime Minister’s office has denied the entirety of the witness accounts in a written statement to the Herald, saying Dr Allawi had never visited the centre and he did not carry a gun.

But the informants told the Herald that Dr Allawi shot each young man in the head as about a dozen Iraqi policemen and four Americans from the Prime Minister’s personal security team watched in stunned silence.

Iraq’s Interior Minister, Falah al-Naqib, is said to have looked on and congratulated him when the job was done. Mr al-Naqib’s office has issued a verbal denial….

One of the witnesses claimed that before killing the prisoners Dr Allawi had told those around him that he wanted to send a clear message to the police on how to deal with insurgents.

Maybe the whole thing’s a hoax, so I’ll reserve final judgement. But there’s enough detail to the witnesses’ story to make me inclined to believe them. And it sounds consistent with the way justice has traditionally been administered in Iraq. The more things change….

Via Kevin Drum.

The Discussion: 6 Comments

I guess Alawi is taking the old argument to kill them all, and let Allah decide.

Another thing to keep in mind is moral relativism. I love when the US applies its view of things on other cultures. Unfortunately, this is a cultural thing and how things are handled in the Middle East and sharia law (hands-free phones takes a new meaning in Saudi Arabia).

July 16, 2004 @ 5:39 pm | Comment

True enough — that’s how they do things there. But this was the kind of thing we pointed to in regard to Saddam and condemned (though he of course brought it to far more grandiose levels in terms of numbers of victims and the level of cruelty; let’s give Allawi some time). The word bush kept repeating again and again before and during the invasion was “democracy.” Iraq was to be a beacon of democracy. He said it so many times I believed it myself. This story is a good reminder that Iraq’s still a brutal society with its own tribal ways of handling things, ways that we as Americans can’t understand, and it’s never going to be anything close to a democracy as we know it.

July 16, 2004 @ 5:52 pm | Comment

I defer to Juan Cole’s comments. And Bush did warn of a new Junior Saddam taking control of Iraq. I just didn’t expect that the Junior Saddam would be so brazenly put in to place by the US.

July 16, 2004 @ 8:56 pm | Comment

A new ‘Saddam’ is what the US wants, to hold Iraq together as a secular buffet state between a hostile Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia and its vast oil fields.

Saddam Mark I did that role magnificently for US interest for decades – ask Rumsfeld – he flew into Baghdad to shake Saddam’s hands and provide assurance of US support in Iraq’s war against the Ayatollahs.

Relationship soured when Saddam got a little too big for his shoes.

President George Bush Jnr and his Administration (with the exception of Colin Powell) miscalculated on what a post-Saddam Iraq would be. In deposing of the Sunni-dominated but secular government, they have destabilized a delicately balanced power equation in that region, to see the hostile Shiite line approaching nearer and frightenly so to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and their oil fields.

Post-Vietnam US has a fairly short attention (or interest) span in overseas military adventure, apart from the reality of the Iraqi situation she sees herself in, bogged down in a nasty quagmire; unless someone can run the country like Saddam, for US interest of course.

Enter Iyad Allawi, former Baathist, ex-colleague and alleged assassin of the dictator, essentially the strongman required for the tough job ahead.

Though he is Shiite, he is as Shiite as the Chinese leaders are Confucianists. Allawi has promised to be tough, with measures like imposing military law, tapping telephones, detention a la Guantanamo Bay and other repressive measures to secure Iraq. It’s notable that the US Administration has remained very silent over Allawi’s declarations, where for ‘lesser’ countries, she would have made the usual cries of violations of human rights.

Very recently, we have allegations of Allawi’s unmitigated brutality, made by a very reputable western journalist.

Abracadabra – we have Saddam Mark II. Iraq should be secure.

July 19, 2004 @ 9:15 am | Comment

Jacky, who are you? You really seem to know world politics.

July 19, 2004 @ 9:22 pm | Comment

You are too kind Richard. I was just dabbling as an amateur strategic thinker. I have an interest in Strategic & Military Studies, which stems from my former military days.

I visit your blog for interesting info on China (land of my ancestors), the sort of info I can’t get from my relatives, or the Chinese (of China) or in newspapers – a true, frank and (hopefully) uninvolved/unbiased look at China.

I am also delighted to read your views on US affairs. I have a great interest in US foreign policies and military history/intentions.

The US is today the most powerful nation in the world bar none, and will significantly influence the course of world affairs, at least for the next 50 years or more. She is also the most interesting nation with so many contradictions within/about herself. I believe her national motto is so apt and thus very well chosen. I love to learn more about what she wants to do.

Keep up the good work/input, Richard and other participants.

July 20, 2004 @ 1:35 am | Comment

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