The release of thousands of classified Iraq war records quickly became part of Iraq’s fraught political terrain on Saturday, with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki denouncing the leak as a move to derail his bid for a second term.
Maliki, who has been mired in a stalemate with his political rivals since parliamentary elections in March, defended his administration against allegations it had permitted the abuse of prisoners and other misuses of power. In a statement, he dismissed the records as a politically timed smear and a series of “media games and bubbles.”
“The Iraqi people know who their leaders are,” he said.
His opponents called the records an indictment of his administration and some compared the accounts of whippings and beatings of prisoners by Iraqi guards, often under the gaze of Americans, to the tactics of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.
Much of the attention focused on a report from October 2006, shortly after al-Maliki took office, which describes the arrest of 17 men wearing Iraqi Army uniforms in Baghdad’s Mansour neighborhood on suspicion of committing robberies. According to the report published by WikiLeaks, the men said they were Iraqi special forces “working for the prime minister’s office.”
Al-Maliki’s political opponents said the report supported their claims that the prime minister had used state forces for nefarious ends.
“For years we have been talking about the armed groups that are working under the name of the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense that have direct connections with some leaders in the government,” said Maysoon al-Damluji, a spokeswoman for Iraqiya, the secular political bloc that finished first in Iraq’s March 7 elections, slightly ahead of Maliki’s State of Law bloc.
She also said that the reports of abuses of Iraqi prisoners by Iraqi soldiers and police officers were a powerful indictment of al-Maliki’s government.
“I do not think that [al-]Maliki has any chance for the prime minister’s position, now he only has Iran and the Sadrists,” she said, referring to the party of the anti-US Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who endorsed Maliki’s list of candidates this month, giving him an edge.
The reports threatened to further divide Iraq along sectarian lines. For many Sunnis, they confirmed longstanding allegations of abuse at the hands of al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government.
“We have said, and say again, that [al-]Maliki should be sentenced to justice and be held -accountable for what he has done to the Iraqi people,” said Waleed Aboud al--Mohamadi, a member of Iraq’s parliament from Anbar Province.
Al-Maliki and his partisans rejected the allegations, insisting that they had followed the law and denying any abuse of prisoners. They also tried to discredit the leaked documents.
“These are all just fakes from the Internet and Photoshop,” said Hassan al-Sneid, a leader of al--Maliki’s governing coalition. “This is just to be seen in the context of a war against [al-]Maliki.”
The Pentagon, while deploring the release of the documents, has not challenged their authenticity.
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of