Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Iraq - Senior Oil Ministry Officials Kidnapped

By Cernig

The possibilities of political reconcilliation in Iraq seem ever less likely. It should be obvious to even the most casual observer that the government there is factionalized and riddled with corruption. Yet more evidence of that comes today.
Dozens of uniformed gunmen in 17 official vehicles stormed an Oil Ministry compound in Baghdad and abducted a deputy oil minister and three other officials, a ministry spokesman and police said.

...Abdel-Jabar al-Wagaa, the senior assistant to Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani, was spirited away by more than 50 gunmen wearing security forces uniforms and driving what were believed to be military vehicles, said Assem Jihad, the oil ministry spokesman.

An Interior Minister official, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to release the information, said a top official in the State Oil Marketing Organization and three directors general in the operation also were kidnapped.

The official said five bodyguards were wounded in the raid on the State Oil Marketing Organization complex in eastern Baghdad.

Five Britons were seized May 29 in a similar raid on Iraq's Finance Ministry, not far from the oil marketing office. They were taken by gunmen wearing police uniforms and have not been found.

Both government organizations are near the lawless Sadr City Shiite enclave, a stronghold of the Mahdi Army militia.

The raid also was reminiscent of an attack by Mahdi Army fighters, dressed as Interior Ministry commandos, who stormed a Higher Education Ministry office Nov. 14 and snatched away as many as 200 people. Dozens of those kidnap victims were never been found.
It seems that al-Sadr's Mahdi Army are being blamed in advance of any evidence for this abduction. But Hussain al-Shahristani is a Shiite, a former senior advisor to Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani (and a prominent Iraqi nuclear scientist) so presumably his deputy was Shia too. That means the government has already descended into Shia-onShia faction fighting using government resources, in a larger version of what has already happened around Basra.

In which case calling the Surge any kind of success is just clapping harder in the hope that Tinkerbelle will come back to life.

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