Iraqi Blogger Update

Riverbend, an Iraqi blogger who runs Baghdad Burning, writes about the simmering rape case in Baghdad, and Maliki's troubling reaction. From the AP:
"Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nouri al-Makiki moved quickly to try to defuse a scandal after a Sunni woman said she was raped by three officers of the Shiite-dominated police.

The government's response — siding with the officers and trying to discredit the allegations — threatened to bring even more backlash.

A statement by al-Makiki's office accused "certain parties" — presumably Sunni politicians — of fabricating the claims in an attempt to undermine security forces during the ongoing Baghdad security operation, which began last week.

The statement was issued only hours after al-Maliki ordered an investigation into the case Monday night.

The 20-year-old married woman said she was assaulted after police commandos took her into custody Sunday in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Amil, accusing her of helping insurgents. She said she was taken to a police garrison and raped.

"It has been shown after medical examinations that the woman had not been subjected to any sexual attack whatsoever and that there are three outstanding arrest warrants against her issued by security agencies," the government statement said, without giving details.

"After the allegations have been proven to be false, the prime minister has ordered that the officers accused be rewarded," it said without elaborating."
Riverbend is an Iraqi woman, educated in the west, and still anonymous for her safety. She was one of the favorites of the pro-war side of the pre-war debate, since she showed exactly the sort of traits people wanted to believe all Iraqis possessed - calmness, yearning and hope for freedom, and the education and sophistication to make use of that freedom. The right wing blogs constantly invoked her as a quiet leader - a canary in the coal mine that presaged an unassailable victory. After the invasion, as the occupation began and the Bush Administration was quickly losing what had been a spectacularly well executed war, Riverbend began to turn against her conservative allies in the States. Within a year she wanted the Americans gone, and the right wing blogs never referenced her again.

Here's Riverbend's take on the rape:
I hate the media and I hate the Iraqi government for turning this atrocity into another Sunni-Shia debacle...

It was less than 14 hours between Sabrine's claims and Maliki's rewarding the people she accused. In 14 hours, Maliki not only established their innocence, but turned them into his own personal heroes. I wonder if Maliki would entrust the safety his own wife and daughter to these men.

This is meant to discourage other prisoners, especially women, from coming forward and making claims against Iraqi and American forces. Maliki is the stupidest man alive (well, after Bush of course…) if he believes his arrogance and callous handling of the situation will work to dismiss it from the minds of Iraqis. By doing what he is doing, he's making it more clear than ever that under his rule, under his government, vigilante justice is the only way to go. Why leave it to the security forces and police? Simply hire a militia or gang to get revenge. If he doesn't get some justice for her, her tribe will be forced to... And the Janabat (the Al Janabis) are a force to be reckoned with.

Maliki could at least pretend the rape of a young Iraqi woman is still an outrage in todays Iraq...
Could this be the turning point for the Sunnis as the Golden Dome was for the Shiites? Let's hope not. Regardless, it does illustrate that we continue to have the wrong man for the job in the position of Prime Minister - more concerned with sectarian favoritism than making the risky decisions and thereby taking the leadership required to build an Iraq where life isn't dominated by an endless cycle of ethnic violence.

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