New York Times: Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki denounced the release of thousands of classified Iraq war records on Saturday as a move to derail his pursuit of another term, while his political opponents called the documents an indictment of Mr. Maliki’s administration.
The New York Times
By JACK HEALY and JOHN LELAND
BAGHDAD — Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki denounced the release of thousands of classified Iraq war records on Saturday as a move to derail his pursuit of another term, while his political opponents called the documents an indictment of Mr. Maliki’s administration.
The documents released by WikiLeaks — some of which describe abuses by Iraqi security forces, often under the gaze of American troops — quickly became part of the political fray in Iraq, where a seven-month political stalemate drags on.
In a lengthy statement, Mr. Maliki dismissed the records as a political smear and a series of “media games and bubbles.”
“The Iraqi people know who their leaders are,” he said.
Much of the attention focused on a report from October 2006, shortly after Mr. Maliki took office, that describes the arrest of 17 men wearing Iraqi Army uniforms in the Mansour neighborhood of Baghdad on suspicion of committing robberies. According to the report, the men claimed they were Iraqi special forces “working for the prime minister’s office.”
Mr. 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 Mr. 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 Mr. Maliki’s government.
“I do not think that 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-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, who endorsed Mr. Maliki’s list of candidates earlier 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 Mr. Maliki’s Shiite-led government.
“We have said, and say again, that Maliki should sentenced to justice and be held accountable for what he has done to the Iraqi people,” said Waleed Aboud al-Mohamadi, a member of Parliament from the Sunni-majority Anbar Province.
Mr. Maliki and his partisans rejected the allegations, brushing off the “talk of arresting and assassination squads,” 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 Mr. Maliki’s governing State of Law coalition, who blamed an antigovernment media conspiracy for the leaks. “This is just to be seen in the context of a war against Maliki.”
The Pentagon, while deploring the release of the documents, has not challenged their authenticity.
Duraid Adnan contributed reporting from Baghdad, and an Iraqi employee of The New York Times from Anbar Province.