Iraqi parties start to work out details on security plan

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Media: The Associated Press
Date: 10 October 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi political parties have agreed that every security
checkpoint in Baghdad will have an equal number of Shiite and Sunni troops
in an effort to ensure the security forces do not allow sectarian attacks,
officials said Monday.

The arrangement was the first agreement reached under a new four-point
security plan announced by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki a week ago, aimed
at uniting the divided parties behind security efforts to stop Shiite-Sunni
killings that have torn the capital for months.

Al-Maliki's plan called for the creation of local Shiite-Sunni committees
that will oversee policing in each district of Baghdad, reporting back to a
Central Committee for Peace and Security to coordinate with the security
forces and the prime minister.

The effort to balance the checkpoints that dot the streets of Baghdad
underlines the deep mistrust between Shiites and Sunnis within al-Maliki's
government. Each side accuses the other of backing militias, and Sunnis in
particular say the Shiite-dominated police force often allows Shiite
militias to carry out kindappings and murders.

The United States has shown increasing impatience with the failure of
al-Maliki's national unity government to put an end to the sectarian
violence, which has killed thousands in Baghdad this year. U.S. officials
warn that the sectarian threat now poses a greater danger even than the
three-year-old Sunni-led insurgency.

In talks on Saturday, the parties agreed on the make-up of the Central
Committee, said two participants in the talks, said a member of the new
committee, Bassem Sherif, who will represent the Shiite Fadila party on the

The Central Committee includes four representatives each from the Shiite
coalition that dominates parliament and the main Sunni coalition, along with
one representative each from the Kurds and the Iraqi List, a mixed, secular
party, said Sherif.

The parties also agreed that each checkpoint in Baghdad will be manned by an
equal number of Sunni and Shiite troops, whether police or military, "so no
violations can take place," said al-Hassan al-Shimmari, a spokesman and
lawmaker from the Shiite Fadila party.

For example, the troops at a checkpoint can keep an eye on each other to
ensure neither side lets by a Shiite or a Sunni armed group to carry out an
attack or covers up for a militia after an attack takes place, he said.

Sherif and another participant in the negotiations, Khalaf al-Alayan, head
of the Sunni National Dialogue Council party, confirmed the details.

Sunnis in particular often accuse the Shiite-dominated police force of
turning a blind eye when Shiite militias carry out a kidnapping or killing.

The Central Committee will meet in the coming days to work with the Interior
and Defense ministries on arranging the balanced checkpoints, Sherif said.

But he said the slaying on Monday of the brother of Vice President Tariq
al-Hashimi, the most prominent Sunni politician, could delay the meeting.
Sunni Arabs blame Shiite militias for his murder. "The killing is making
things tenser between everyone," Sherif said.

The Central Committee also must form the local committees called for under
the plan. In principle they would be made up of representatives from all the
main blocs, as well as from the police and army, al-Shimmari said.

In cases of a dispute or emergency at a checkpoint, the local committee in
the area would try to resolve it, but if it was unable to, it would contact
the Central Committee, he said.

The Central Committee includes Shiite representatives from the Sadr Movement
and the Badr Organization, both of which are accused of running militias.
The Sadr Movement's Mahdi Army is probably the country's most powerful
militia and is often accused in killings of Sunnis. The Badr Organization
insists the militia by that name has disbanded and become a political
faction, though many are skeptical.

Mistrust has been growing between the Shiite and Sunni parties in
al-Maliki's government, with each accusing the other of backing militias
carrying out the killings. Critics say al-Maliki is reluctant to crack down
on Shiite militias because of their links to parties in his government.