Cables show Iraq PM removed opposition from positions of power

By Leila Fadel
Saturday, December 4, 2010; 8:11 AM

BAGHDAD -- Diplomatic cables leaked to a Lebanese newspaper show that Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pumped dozens of loyalists to his Shiite party into the security and intelligence services in the lead-up to Iraq's March 7 elections.

The cables leaked to Al-Akhbar newspaper, a left-leaning Lebanese daily, acknowledge widely held beliefs that Maliki, recently re-nominated for prime minister, methodically tried to rid Iraq's security apparatuses of opposition to his party prior to Iraq's election. He used a law that bans employment to people with links to Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath Party from security and government positions.

A cable written just over a month before voting day said Maliki tried to purge 36 members of the Iraqi Joint Headquarters Intelligence Directorate and appointed 47 loyalists to his Dawa party. The head of the intelligence agency, Alaa al Amiri, succeeded in blocking the removal of 14 key officers. The new officers were all Shiite, those purged were mostly Sunni, the cable said. Opponents of Maliki told U.S. officials that he was trying to get rid of dissent against him, the cable said.

"Qualifications offered to justify their work in the [Intelligence Directorate] included a two-month course (NFI) and education credentials that MG al-Amiri believes were falsified in many cases," the cable said. "Some officers in [the intelligence directorate] believe the new cadres are an attempt to fill the M2 with personnel loyal to the Dawa party, rather than create a more efficient intelligence organization."

Another cable dated Feb. 28, 2010, recounted a conversation with Deputy Minister of Interior Hussein Ali Kamal, who told U.S. officials that 58 members of Maliki's Dawa party had been put into the National Information and Investigation Agency inside the Ministry of Interior, which over sees Iraq's police.

"Since the politically-linked command changes are corrosive to Iraqi Security Force command and control integrity and unit readiness, we will continue closely watching [Ministry of Defense] and [Ministry of Interior] personnel movements and the net effect on national security," the cable said.

On Saturday, bombings in Baghdad killed seven Iranian pilgrims and wounded 46 others. A car bomb in the capital killed another six people and wounded 42.

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