Monday, October 08, 2007


Basra police chief steps up to militia challenge

The Iraqi government, along with political forces, are following with concern the situation in Basra province, with the withdrawal of the British military continuing in the forthcoming months until a full withdrawal is implemented. General Abdul Jalil Khalaf, Basra police chief, told Gulf News: "The task is very difficult and conditions are extremely dangerous because each party believes that it represents the law, and each element thinks of himself as a state hero. The city includes tens or even hundreds of militias and I am ready for the task."
Statistics at the University of Basra indicates that there are about 250,000 individuals involved in the armed militias and around 144 militia groups.

There are the militias of the Dawa party headed by Nouri Al Maliki, the Badr Brigades headed by Hadi Al Ameri affiliated to Abdul Aziz Al Hakim, the Mahdi Army of Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr, the Hezbollah movement militia led by Hassan Sari, Hezbollah affiliated to Abdul Kareem Al Muhamadawi, the Fadhila party militias belong to Mohammad Al Yacoubi and other small resistance militias in the south as Imam Ali rebels, Hassan and Hussain rebels and Al Ridha followers.
The oil-rich city consists of 40 to 55 private militia who specialise in oil smuggling to Iran and stealing copper wires from electric grids. Abdul Hadi, an Iraqi army officer in Basra, told Gulf News: "The most dangerous militia is the police and security forces' militias because they have weapons and work in the name of the law. These are groups that consist of between 40 to 90 members who agree to implement kidnapping and blackmail operations or condone gang activities for major financial commissions."
Basra, especially Faw and Majnoon Islands, includes the richest oil fields in the region as well as bunches of palm orchards which yield the best types of dates in the world.
Fadhil Al Jamaly, an economic researcher, told Gulf News: "The issue of oil is the essence of conflict between armed militias, whether these are affiliated to political parties or smuggling gangs. I believe fighting will break out between the outlaw armed groups because of the weakness of state security forces and also the penetration of these militias in these forces, besides seizing land and dates palms is no less important than oil for the armed groups."
Recently, the dispute settlement body in Basra reported that armed militias affiliated to political parties, gangs and powerful individuals seized thousands of houses and real estate.

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