THE BLOG
11/20/2007 10:15 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

NSN Iraq Daily Update 11/20/07

U.S. PUSHES IRAQI GOVERNMENT TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF DIP IN VIOLENCE

Leaders must use relative calm to advance political reconciliation, increase basic services and pass laws, officials and experts say. U.S. military and government officials warned at the start of the clampdown that it would not have lasting success unless it was matched with political progress. It is a message being repeated with a new sense of urgency, now that Iraqi leaders can no longer blame huge bombs, mass abductions, and street-by-street fighting as an excuse for political paralysis. Iraq's Shi'a Muslim-led government must step up delivery of essential services, revive schools and hospitals, and pass laws to end distrust among Sunni Arabs, Shi'a and Kurds. The major laws that U.S. and Iraqi leaders long maintained were crucial to peace have not been passed, and there is little sign any of them will be soon, as none has come before the parliament for debate. [LA Times, 11/20/07]

IRAQIS JOIN INSURGENCY LESS FOR CAUSE AND MORE FOR CASH

Economics trumps ideology. U.S. commanders say that insurgents across the country are increasingly motivated more by money than ideology and that U.S. military officials have responded by launching a major campaign to disrupt insurgent financial networks and spread propaganda that portrays its leaders as greedy thugs. "I tell a lot of my soldiers: A good way to prepare for operations in Iraq is to watch the sixth season of 'The Sopranos,'" said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch. "You're seeing a lot of Mafioso kind of activity." As insurgent groups struggle to pay recruits, a growing number are turning to gangster-style racketeering operations. [Washington Post, 11/20/07]

U.S. GENERAL: NORTHERN IRAQ IS THE MOST VIOLENT REGION

Militants have left Anbar and Baghdad for northern Iraq. According to the region's top U.S. commander, Army Maj. Gen Mark P. Hertling, the so-called Awakening movement has caused Sunni militants to flee from Anbar in the west, while Sunni extremist groups and other militants move north to avoid U.S. operations in Baghdad. Gen. Hertling said Sunni extremist cells operate in all the key cities in the north. "What you're seeing is the enemy shifting," Hertling said from outside Tikrit in northern Iraq. [USA Today, 11/20/07]

THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT IS CORRUPTED BY SECTARIANISM

Trial will soon begin for 2 Iraqi officials accused of diverting funds to Sadr's Shi'a militia. Two Health Ministry officials accused of diverting millions of dollars to Iraq's biggest Shi'a militia and allowing death squads to use ambulances and government hospitals to carry out kidnappings and killings. Former Deputy Health Minister Hakim al-Zamili and Brig. Gen. Hameed al-Shimmari, who was in charge of the ministry's security force, were arrested after Iraqi soldiers stormed their offices in separate raids in February. The two are both Shi'a accused of links to the Mahdi Army -- a militia loyal to anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. [AP, 11/19/07]

PRIVATE SECURITY CONTRACTORS CONTINUE TO UNDERMINE U.S. EFFORTS

The Iraqi military has detained 43 people in a contractor's convoy after a Baghdad shooting. The Iraqi military said they detained 33 foreigners and 10 Iraqis after their convoy randomly opened fire and killed an 18 year old woman in central Baghdad on Monday. A U.S. military spokesman said no Americans had been arrested. Almco Group, a Dubai-based company is under contract to the U.S. military, but it was not clear whether those detained were working on those contracts, or another, at the time of the shooting. An Iraqi military spokesman said the convoy was driving on the wrong side of the road in the central Baghdad neighborhood of Karradah when the shooting took place. Those arrested included two Fijians, 21 from Sri Lanka, nine Nepalese, 10 Iraqis and one Indian. The two Fijians held identification cards issued by the U.S. Department of Defense. [AP, 10/20/07]

Investigations into private security contractors continue. A Washington grand jury is to investigate multiple shootings involving private security contractors in Iraq. Including a September 16th incident in which guards for Blackwater killed 17 civilians in Baghdad. However, the investigation ranges well beyond Blackwater. The grand jury has issued subpoenas to several private security firms, authorities are seeking company "after-action" reports and other documents that may shed light on specific incidents, he said. [Washington Post, 11/20/07]