Friday, September 10, 2010

Interesting footnote to the preceding, Number 3

According to the September 7 English-language edition of Asharq Al-Awsat, an Arabic newspaper published in London, an unnamed Iraqi political official has charged that an official security agency, acting on behalf of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, has been spying on opposition political parties and leaders.
The political official, who is not connected to the government and preferred anonymity for security reasons, told Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone from Baghdad, that “we’ve noticed for a long time that there has been interference with our telephone lines, which prompted us to be suspicious about the presence of surveillance, and interception of our communications, through a specific agency”. ...

He pointed out that “a close ally of al-Maliki’s office, who is sympathetic to our bloc, informed us frankly not to talk via the telephone about our plans, or anything that is critical of the Prime Minister. The fact is that there is a security agency which is hijacking our conversations, and this agency belongs to al-Maliki’s office”. ...

[The official] warned that “these procedures are not limited to wire-tapping alone, but there are extensive security checks on political leaders, conducted by monitoring elements from security services, to follow their movements. Some security forces also have gathering points near the headquarters of leaders, or political parties that are not close to the government”.
The official said that among those being wiretapped were the offices of the Iraqiya coalition and it's leader, Iyad Allawi; leaders of the Islamic Supreme Council, a member of the INA coalition; leaders of the Sadrist Movement, likewise part of INA; and even some leaders and members of Maliki's own State of Law coalition where he has "reservations about their loyalty."

An Iraqi security official who would comment only on condition of anonymity told the paper that he assumed this was to "protect" the officials, "in particular during the recent period which has seen assassinations and attempts to kill some politicians." However, he also admitted that the parties' own security services "were not informed of these procedures" and confirmed that there is a security apparatus directly answerable to Maliki's office.

Footnote to the Footnote: The political official said that Maliki had made the decision to re-open some streets in Baghdad by removing concrete barriers.
However, [Asharq Al-Awsat notes], there has been no implementation of these decisions except with regards to the office of Allawi, where the majority of surrounding concrete barriers have been raised. ... Meanwhile, other streets, close to the headquarters and residences of government leaders and associates of the government, have remained closed.
Put another way, the only political office on a street now open to the public and therefore at greater risk in this "recent period which has seen assassinations and attempts to kill some politicians" is that of Maliki's chief opponent and bitter rival.

Maybe that means nothing. Still....

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