A secret deal may be filling Iraq’s security forces with former Mahdi Army militiamen. Meanwhile, the uptick in violence continues. At least 30 Iraqis were killed and 54 more were wounded in attacks that focused on central Iraq.
According to media reports, a secret deal with the Iraqi government is giving Mahdi Army militiamen preferential treatment when applying for jobs as security personnel. In some cases, more qualified applicants are passed over so that the ex-militants, who are loyal to Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, can fill the posts. The jobs, sometimes high-ranking ones, are scattered across all the security forces. The deal was allegedly created to lure militiamen away from the Mahdi Army. Anonymous civil servants have confirmed the practice, but the Iraqi government is denying the claim.
After the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the Mahdi Army was one of several insurgent groups battling foreign and national forces. They ostensibly called a truce in 2008 after a civil war between them and the Iraqi army nearly broke out. Thousands were killed or wounded before a ceasefire was called. They regrouped in 2010 after Sadr threatened to stage attacks should U.S. forces remain in Iraq after next month’s withdrawal.
The new deal, if it is real, also appears to take precedence over a similar one made with the Awakening Councils years ago. Those men had fought alongside Iraq and U.S. forces against al-Qaeda, but were never properly taken into the security forces as promised. The Iraqi government always mistrusted them because many were also former insurgents. Whether this could be the same fate for the Mahdi Army is unlikely. Sadr wields considerably more power than any Sunni counterparts in the Awakening movement.
In Baghdad, three bombs exploded in the Bab al-Sharji district where they killed as many as eight people and wounded 28 more. Gunmen killed an employee working for the Council of Ministers. A civil defense employee was killed and two family members were wounded when gunmen attacked them in Rabeaa.
A roadside blast targeting a truck filled with construction workers in Abu Ghraib killed about nine people and wounded at least 12 others.
In Mosul, a bomb killed a civilian and wounded a soldier. Two men were wounded as they were handling a bomb. Mortars hit a building housing a Peshmerga unit and an identification office; 20 suspects were arrested in connection.
A bomb killed seven people and wounded seven others in Falluja.
Gunmen attacked a convoy carrying the mayor of Dour. He was wounded and a bodyguard was killed.
In Muradiya, a man was killed execution-style.
A man was killed as he was handling a bomb in Gatoun.
A roadside bomb in Hakim wounded a civilian.
A young man from Baghdad was freed in Qadisiya, and his kidnappers were arrested.