Monday, November 13, 2006

Some Iraqi troops targeting Sunnis, perhaps partly due to new federalism law

"In July, the United States turned over “lead responsibility” for security in Diyala to the Iraqi Fifth Army Division. But within months, facing heavy violence and evidence of sectarian activities by the Iraqi Army, American commanders shelved plans to turn over full operational control of the Fifth Division to the Iraqi government on Oct. 1. 'Recent operations conducted by the Fifth Iraqi Army seem to be focused strictly on the Sunnis,' said Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, division commander for northern Iraq.
. . . American commanders also say the security forces are intimidating and arresting Sunnis who could be contenders for high political office — perhaps with an eye to welding Diyala eventually into a Shiite-dominated autonomous region under Iraq’s new federalism law. That law would allow provinces to form into semi-independent states with wide powers over internal security. *
'It just seems to be a deliberate attempt to make sure that the Sunnis are unable to organize politically here and represent themselves well in the next round of elections,' Colonel Jones said, 'because there is an awful lot at stake in this province.' "

* The federalism law will take effect in about 17 months and will allow provinces to vote on whether they want to form into a semi-autonomous region with other provinces.

The New York Times. Sectarian Rifts Foretell Pitfalls of Iraqi Troops’ Taking Control. November 12, 2006.

posted: monday, november 13, 2006, 3:11 AM ET
update: monday, november 13, 2006, 3:15 AM ET

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