Pentagon “Cracking Down” on “Salvador Option” Death Squads It Created
How soon we forget, that is if we noticed in the first place.
It was January 14, 2005, when Michael Hirsh and John Barry, writing for Newsweek, told us about the possibility of the Pentagon implementing the so-called “Salvador Option” in Iraq. Following the “model” of the “Salvador Option,” dispatching death squads “to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers,” as was prosecuted under Reagan in El Salvador, “one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions.”
Hirsh and Barry characterize the neocon version of the “Salvador Option”—more accurately described as the Phoenix program refashioned—as little more than idle chatter bouncing around in the deep recesses of the Pentagon, when in fact this murderous “option” was signed off on back in October, 2004, “in a single paragraph in an 800-page defense authorization bill,” according to Stephen R. Shalom, citing Douglas Jehl and Eric Schmitt or the New York Times.
If you read USA Today this morning, you would come away with the impression Iraq’s Shi’ites—most notably the politically expedient and oft-demonized Muqtada al-Sadr and his al-Mahdi Army—came up with the idea to hunt down and slaughter Sunni insurgents, supporters, and obviously no small number of innocent bystanders all on their lonesome.
In addition, we are told, al-Sadr’s Shi’a followers are attacking U.S. forces in Iraq with IEDs manufactured from Iranian parts. “The new Iraqi-U.S. security plan launched this month focuses on disarming the radical Shiite cleric’s Mahdi Army, which the U.S. military accuses of setting roadside bombs, infiltrating government ministries and conducting mass kidnappings and murders. Several Mahdi Army leaders have been arrested in recent weeks,” reports USA Today, a rather daffy declaration, as Iraqi Shi’ites “infiltrating” a puppet government consisting primarily of fellow Shi’ites is sort of like Texan farmers infiltrating the Texas Farm Bureau.
Of course, according to the neocons, there are good Shi’ites and bad Shi’ites—the good Shi’ites are part of the Iraqi National Assembly, “elected” by “referendum” held at gunpoint—and now that “civil war” (engineered social and ethnic chaos) has broken out, it is time to send out the cavalry—consisting largely of kids from Nebraska and Appalachia, who thought signing up would get them out of a life of flipping burgers at McDonalds—and take care of the bad guys, most of whom live in teeming Baghdad ghettos.
Never mind the vast majority of Americans in Iraq are killed by the Sunni resistance, organized by elements of the former Ba’ath party—not al-Sadr, consistently characterized as a miscreant and Iranian puppet dancing on a short string.
Searching Google, one is hard pressed to locate news stories of Shi’ites killing U.S. troops, although there is an appreciable number of articles detailing the slaughter of Shi’ites, most recently when a supposed Shi’a sect was wiped out in Najaf, apparently with an ease akin to shooting fish in a barrel.
As for the “ancient animosities” between Sunni and Shi’a—said to be at the root of the carnage in Iraq, never mind the neocons have methodically reduced the place to an intolerable radioactive ruin—we are told, by none other than the demented columnist and resident Islamophobe over at the CIA’s favorite newspaper, Charles Krauthammer, that “Iraqis were given their freedom, and yet many have chosen civil war.”
For the Muslim- and Arab-hating neocons, it is “religious prejudices, ancient wounds, social resentments and tribal antagonisms” at the base of the violence, not the social chaos unleashed on them by the United States. And “who gets the blame for the rivers of blood?” sniffs Krauthammer. “You can always count on some to find the blame in America.”
Damn straight, Charlie—and rightfully so.
Meanwhile, as U.S. troops kick in the doors of Shi’ite homes, “virtually unopposed,” as Forbes informs us, “in the opening phase of the long-awaited Baghdad security crackdown,” it is said the “anti-U.S. cleric al-Sadr” has “fled to Iran,” according to the Associated Press.
Last month, unable to arrest al-Sadr, “Iraqi forces” settled instead for Sheik Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji, al-Sadr’s media director in Baghdad, accusing him “of having ties with the commanders of so-called death squads” (see above), reports the Associated Press. A few weeks later, “Iraqi and U.S. security forces” arrested Deputy Minister Hakim al-Zamili, described as an “al-Sadr loyalist” and the “first, visible big fish,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
It should be noted this “high-level Iraqi official” was connected to the Health Ministry. According to Ken Silverstein, writing for Harper’s Magazine, Health Minister Abdul Mutalib Mohammed Ali is associated with Baqir Jabr al-Zubeidi, the former Interior Minister now serving as the Finance Minister, the latter accused of “institutional responsibility for violence committed by the death squads,” and described as “merely the most ruthless of a class of Shiite leaders who have sought to engineer Shiite dominance behind the scenes, at times with direct U.S. sponsorship.” As it turns out, Baqir Jabr al-Zubeidi “ran SCIRI’s local office in Syria, where he coordinated relations with other anti-Saddam exile groups” before the invasion. It is common knowledge SCIRI “has a long and stormy relationship with the Pentagon and the CIA,” writes Maria Tomchick.
Counting on our persistent amnesia, or lack of attention altogether, the Pentagon expects us to believe, as the miscreant Krauthammer expects us to believe, that Iraq’s death squads are a homegrown phenomenon, when in fact there is plenty of evidence they are trained and coordinated by the Pentagon. It is not merely happenstance or “ancient animosities” driving the current wave of sectarian slaughter in Iraq. As Max Fuller reported last November, al-Sadr’s al-Mahdi Army has worked closely with Interior Ministry commandos, mostly notably in Balad in October.
Silverstein would have us believe the rise of Shi’a death squads reveals “American blindness, incompetence, and cynicism,” when in fact it reveals a concerted effort to destroy the country, with the help of Shi’a militias, apparently including on occasion al-Sadr’s faithful, myopically following their own anti-Sunni (or rather anti-Ba’athists) agenda.
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