Monday, May 30, 2005

A New Definition For Incompetence in Iraq

A hat tip to Steve Soto for the link to an article from the UK's Daily Telegraph, perhaps the most rightwing of all British quality newspapers. Steve has a great post which has well worth reading.

The Headline reads "Outrage as US troops arrest moderate Sunni leader." The story which unfolds is jawdropping in it's showcase of unbelievable, mind-numbing incompetence and arrogannce.

US troops outraged Iraq's new government yesterday by arresting one of the country's foremost Sunni leaders only to release him later and call the whole episode a mistake.

Firing stun grenades, American soldiers burst into the home of Mohsen Abdul-Hamid, head of the largest Sunni Arab political party, shortly after dawn. They forced a hood over his head and dragged him away along with his three sons.


Now the thing is, although some Sunni leaders have been suspected of ties to the insurgency, Mr. Abdul-Hamid who is not just a Sunni but a Kurd, has not.

According to his wife, as he was led away the US arrest team's translator yelled "This is what happens to those who boycotted the elections."

Worse still:

It appeared that the Americans had not sought permission for the raid from the Iraqi government, again raising questions about its supposed sovereignty. It also threatened the most serious rift between Washington and Baghdad since the administration was sworn in a month ago.

President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, issued a strongly worded condemnation of the arrest, saying: "I consider treating a prominent political leader such as Abdul-Hamid in this way unacceptable."


Abdul-Hamid was freed 10 hours later and the military had a short statement:

"It was determined that he was detained by mistake and should be released," US central command said in a statement. "Coalition forces regret any inconvenience and acknowledge Mr Hamid's co-operation in resolving this matter."

A mistake! The US Army can hardly say they were unaware of his identity - he was selected by Bemer's Iraqi governing council shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein and briefly served as its president as well as being influential in bringing Sunni Arabs who boycotted January's elections back into the political process. They knew who he was and where he lived.

So let's see. Arrest a prominent and until now friendly politician with extreme violence, without permission from his sovereign government. Piss of his faction which is one of the best hopes of turning the Sunni community against the insurgents. Piss of the Iraqi government by making them look like puppets you can ignore. Do they want to start a civil war as well as drive even more Iraqis into the insurgents arms?

It's has to be arrogant incompetence on a massive scale. Do you want to bet some junior officer or even a common grunt gets to hold the bag for this, even though everyone knows it couldn't have happened without higher sanction?