Wikileaks, new US report fuel controversy about Iraq's PM
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, under scrutiny for torture implications in the Wikileaks Iraq dump, raised US concerns after he moved to put Iraqi Special Forces under his control.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's move to take control of Iraqi Special Operations Forces trained and funded by the US is raising concerns over how those forces will be used, according to a new US government report released Monday.Skip to next paragraph
The report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction could fuel controversy surrounding the incumbent prime minister, who is already grappling with Wikileaks' release of 400,000 low-level US military documents that imply forces under his offices command committed war-crimes during his four-year term.
This appears to be the first direct acknowledgment by a US agency of a move that has been widely known but so far ignored publicly by the US, which was responsible for reconstituting Iraqi forces. It could raise questions about the US role in creating an elite commando unit transferred unconstitutionally to the command of a Shiite-dominated prime ministry in the height of a brutal sectarian war.
The report by the federal agency set up by Congress to monitor the spending of billions of US dollars in Iraq also said that despite $7.3 billion spent on an unprecedented police training program, the capability of those forces is unknown because no system has been put in place to assess them.
Timing of Wikileaks release politically motivated?
Mr. Maliki has claimed that the timing of the Wikileaks release is part of an attempt to undermine his chances of forming a coalition government. The trove of "sigacts" – the daily raw military data of "significant actions" over the course of six years of war – includes reports of security forces identified as under the command of Maliki's office committing crimes.
None provides evidence that Maliki knew of abuses committed by forces answering to him. But they provide a snapshot of a savage sectarian war that included secret prisons attached to government ministries and death squads linked to security forces.
The US military has condemned the release of the documents and said it will not comment on secret files.
Some seek to limit Maliki's power in a second term
On Sunday, Iraq’s highest court said the political vacuum which has left the country without a functioning parliament was unconstitutional and ordered lawmakers to meet in the next two weeks to elect a speaker.
Maliki and his political rivals have hoped to use the speaker position to entice coalition allies in a package deal to form a government, seven months after elections. Other Shiite parties have proposed that the prime minister’s powers be curbed if Maliki leads a new government.
Since he came to power in 2004, Maliki has consolidated several security organizations under his command, either changing their command structures or creating new organizations that bypass the Ministry of Defense or Interior and answer directly to his office.