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October 22, 2010

Iraqi PM Says Politics Behind Latest WikiLeaks Release

There was a mixed reaction from Iraqi political leaders over the release of classified U.S. documents Friday on the Wikileaks website concerning U.S. behavior in Iraq.

Some Iraqi leaders reacted with anger and others with a shrug of the shoulders to the release of classified U.S. documents concerning the Iraq war.

Rival Sunni and Shi'ite political parties appeared to take opposing stances over the issue, using it as a new battleground in an ongoing political struggle.

In a statement read on Iraqi government TV, Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called the release of classified U.S. documents by Wikileaks "politically motivated," adding that they "raised a number of questions."

Several members of Mr. Maliki's State of Law coalition blasted the release, calling it a "recipe for fresh sectarian strife." Kemal al Saidi, from the prime minister's State of Law coalition, argued the Wikileaks documents target the prime minister "personally," and are meant to hinder formation of a new government:

He questions why these documents came out now, amid efforts to form the new government. He claims that this is part of a campaign against Mr. Maliki, against the government and against the political system. He adds that he doesn't believe the leaks will stir up violence because the Iraqi people know they are linked to the formation of the government and to Mr. Maliki personally.

Saidi also defended Mr. Maliki against allegations in the released documents that he was responsible for "torture and killing squads." "I don't know any government in the world," he insisted, "that doesn't protect itself against criminals, and we are proud of fighting criminals."

Iraqi Minister of Human Rights Wijdan Salim, who has investigated many charges of human rights abuse since she took the job in 2006, called the documents released "nothing surprising."

Mostly Sunni Iraqi opposition satellite channels blasted both the United States and Mr. Maliki's government for what many called "flagrant human rights abuses."

Commentators on Iran's Arabic-language al Alam TV blasted the document-release, claiming that it was a "massive U.S. plot." Several Wikileaks documents accuse Tehran of smuggling weapons and explosives into Iraq to cause strife.

"It is not possible," claimed one pro-Iranian commentator, "that the powerful U.S. government would allow such sensitive documents to be published." The U.S. government itself, he went on to allege, is responsible for releasing the documents.

One young Iraqi man claims that the U.S. is the big winner from the release of these documents.

He claims that the Americans are the only ones to profit from this matter. He says that Iraqis already know that people in the government were involved with militias or with foreign governments be they Iran or whomever. He says he believes that 80 to 85% of the information released is true, but that this was not the right time to release them because they will cause regional complications which will "soon be felt."

Allies of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who is locked in a seven month old struggle with Prime Minister Maliki over which of the two will form the next government, played down the new Wikileaks documents.

Osama Njeify, of Mr. Allawi's Iraqiya bloc, called the documents "part of the truth that the Iraqi people are all too aware of…..and have lived through."