Baghdad is rife with the strangest rumours again chiefly as a result of the latest deployment of American troops around major Shi’ite districts in Baghdad, signaling a movement against Shi’ite militias. The rumours also seem to have penetrated the concrete barriers of the Green Zone where anxious Iraqi governmental officials are whispering about an impending American “coup,” and according to some well-connected Iraqis inside the Green Zone, several officials have made travel arrangements. This followed tensions over the last week between the U.S. and a defiant PM Maliki that were supposedly resolved yesterday with the joint Iraqi-American statement reaffirming U.S. support for the Iraqi government and the commitment of the Iraqi government to a timetable for disbanding militias. The heavy deployment of American troops along with elite Iraqi security forces that are not part of the Interior or the Defense ministries aggravated these fears.
Situation in Baghdad, October 28
Mahdi Army groups in Sadr City are accusing SCIRI of setting up the American military operation against them. This could spell further trouble in Shi’ite cities in the south and another confrontation between the Mahdi Army and Iraqi security forces (dominated by SCIRI and Badr).
Sources in Sadr City reported that a son of Abu Dera’ and an aide were killed in the first American raid against the Chuwadir area of Sadr City Wednesday. Abu Dera’ is a feared name in Sadr City and Sunnis accuse him of atrocities against their community in several districts surrounding Sadr City. It’s hard to get facts about him since he has become a sort of a legend in that area of Baghdad, but people now claim that Sadr personally appointed him the responsibility of cleaning up the ranks of the Mahdi Army in Sadr City and that he has started cracking down on rival gangs and splinter Mahdi Army groups in the area. Following the American raid, he is reported to have fled behind the Sadda and is now in the Al-Amin district, just southeast of Sadr City. Clashes are still reported from Sadr City and American troops have blocked all main streets leading into the huge slum.
Tensions are still high in Amara, Diwaniya and Samawa. There was a failed assassination attempt against the military intelligence commander (a SCIRI member) in Samawa, and there were clashes between militias and the Iraqi police in Suwayra southeast of Baghdad. All are signs of the increasing distrust between the Sadrist movement and SCIRI, which form the largest blocs inside the UIA.