Friday, September 9, 2016

08 Diyala Raid When Maliki Used Iraq’s Special Forces For Political Gain


On August 18, 2008 the Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) were ordered to arrest Hussein Zubeidi, the head of the security committee on the Diyala council, and Nazar Khafaji, the head of Diyala University. The U.S. Special Forces advisers with the ISOF refused to support the operation saying that they had no intelligence against Zubeidi. The raid turned into a disaster. The ISOF ended up killing the Diyala governor’s secretary, (1) and beat the deputy governor (2) and Zubeidi. Then, as they were leaving, they got into a firefight with local police, four of which plus a civilian were injured in the ensuing gun battle. The U.S. sent 2 Apache helicopters to check on the situation and came under fire from the Iraqi forces. The fighting only ended when the ISOF called Iraq’s ground forces commander General Ali Ghaidan who ordered the police to stand down. The ISOF finished their mission by arresting Nazar Khafji. Baghdad claimed that Zubeidi and Khafji were helping the Islamic State of Iraq. Those charges were later dropped and new ones brought up that they took part in sectarian killings. However, the man that made those accusations later said he made up them up. Still, Zubeidi was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. The head of the Counter Terrorism Service General Dhai Kanani ordered the operation on behalf of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The premier had just launched the Omens of Prosperity Campaign in Diyala, that was supposed to go after the insurgency, but instead targeted the Iraqi Islamic Party and the Sahwa, which were attempting to make an alliance before the 2009 provincial elections. Maliki was determined to break that up. The Americans were infuriated by the raid, and warned that Omens of Prosperity was turning into a sectarian campaign by the prime minister against Sunnis. This was one of many moves made by Maliki in 2008 where he would use the security forces against his opponents to strengthen his political position.

FOOTNOTES

1. Salaheddin, Sinan, “Police: Iraqi troops raid Diyala governor’s office,” Associated Press, 8/19/08

2. Aswat al-Iraq, “PM forms ministerial committee to investigate Diala incidents,” 8/19/08

SOURCES

Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, “2 Iraqi officials accused of aiding al-Qaida,” Associated Press, 8/27/08

Aswat al-Iraq, “PM forms ministerial committee to investigate Diala incidents,” 8/19/08

Gordon, Michael and Trainor, General Bernard, The Endgame, The Inside Story Of The Struggle For Iraq, From George W. Bush To Barack Obama, New York, Pantheon, 2012

Mardini, Ramzy, “Iraqi Military Operation in Diyala Province Risks Renewal of Kurdish-Arab Conflict,” Terrorism Focus, Jamestown Foundation, 9/18/08

Murray, Bill, “Bungled raid in Diyala threatens political developments, military operations,” Long War Journal, 8/20/08

Parker, Ned, “Diyala struggles to overcome sectarian bad blood,” Los Angeles Times, 10/25/10

Parker, Sam, “Guest Post: Behind the Curtain in Diyala,” Abu Muqawama, 8/20/08

Roggio, Bill, “Operation Omens of Prosperity begins in Diyala,” Long War Journal, 7/29/08

Russo, Claire, “Diyala’s Provincial Election: Maliki & The IIP,” Institute for the Study of War, 1/30/09
- “The Maliki Government Confronts Diyala,” Institute for the Study of War, 9/23/08

Salaheddin, Sinan, “Police: Iraqi troops raid Diyala governor’s office,” Associated Press, 8/19/08

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