Contrary to the standard image of the Iraqi security forces as lightly camouflaged members of the Badr brigades, tension between those forces and Badr actually seems to be on the increase. In a recent episode in Hilla, Iraqi security forces carried out a surprise search of the headquarters of the Badr brigades, and according to some reports confiscated both rockets and explosives. The ISCI governor of Babel claimed that only Kalashnikovs were taken and that these were for the “personal use” of the Badr members.
Assuming that the reports are genuine and that this was not a staged event of some kind, the episode is interesting because it seems to add to a more general trend. Earlier this year in Maysan, posters of Hakim were torn down during operations carried out by the security forces. Some months ago, ISCI protested strongly against the interior ministry’s appointment of a new police chief in Nasiriyya. Some reports claim that the notorious “Scorpions” of the Iraqi security forces took part in the recent Hilla operation, even in cooperation with US forces. Earlier, the late police chief in Babel, Qays al-Mamuri, had fought Badr with determination.
Moreover, the incident throws into question the true degree of demilitarisation as regards the Badr forces and other pro-ISCI elements. It is worth recalling that as late as 2007, the leader of “Hizbollah in Iraq”, an integral part of ISCI, made a public request to Maliki to have his “30,000 militiamen” integrated into the Iraqi security forces and complained that no action had been taken.
In other news, Wifaq and al-Hiwar al-Watani have decided to contest the local elections on a joint ticket, with Hiwar’s leadership specifically rejecting an alliance with (Sunni-dominated) Tawafuq on the grounds that they found it “too sectarian”. That’s a step in the right direction, but where are Fadila, Jaafari’s Islah, the UIA independents and the tribal leaders?