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Iraq Crackdown Empowers PM

Lt. Gen. Aboud Qanbar, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s point man for military operations in Baghdad, announced sweeping new military powers on Tuesday as part of a large-scale crackdown on sectarian violence. Qanbar said he is in absolute control of the effort and answers only to Maliki, signaling an expansion of the prime minister’s authority.

The plan includes the temporary closure of Iraq’s borders with Iran and Syria, an extension of the curfew already in place, the establishment of checkpoints under Qanbar’s authority, and the eviction of thousands of Iraqi squatters, many of whom fled increasingly ghettoized neighborhoods.

Qanbar’s men will also have the authority to open mail, monitor telephone calls and break into houses and cars.


New York Times:

In a televised speech, Lt. Gen. Aboud Qanbar, who is leading the new crackdown, also announced the closing of Iraq’s borders with Iran and Syria, an extension of the curfew in Baghdad by an hour, and the setup of new checkpoints run by the Defense and Interior Ministries, both of which General Qanbar said he now controlled.

He said the government would break into homes and cars it deemed dangerous, open mail and eavesdrop on phone calls.

[…]General Qanbar, wearing a camouflage uniform and a red staff commander’s beret, made it clear that he reported only to the prime minister. Mr. Maliki appointed him as the overall Iraqi commander for forces in Baghdad in January. With the extraordinary powers he claimed, an increasing amount of authority is now consolidated in the prime minister’s office.

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