Iraqi official accuses U.S. troops of human rights violations.

The Associated Press
Published: July 14, 2007

BAGHDAD: A key adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused U.S. forces Saturday of human rights violations, embarassing the government and cooperating with "gangs of killers" in its campaign against al-Qaida in Iraq.

Legislator Hassan al-Suneid also told The Associated Press that al-Maliki has problems with the top U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus, who works along a "purely American vision."

Al-Suneid said the U.S. strategy "is to arm whoever is against al-Qaida at a time when there are gangs against al-Qaida that kill. These are gangs of killers."

He was referring to U.S. overtures to Sunni groups in Anbar and Diyala, encouraging former insurgents to join the fight against al-Qaida in Iraq.

"There are disagreements that the strategy that Petraeus is following might succeed in confronting al-Qaida in the early period but it will leave Iraq an armed nation, an armed society and militias," said al-Suneid, a Shiite and a member of the Security and Defense Committee in parliament.

U.S. officials have said that violence in the predominantly Sunni western province of Anbar dropped 50 percent since local tribes joined Iraqi and American forces in fighting al-Qaida in Iraq last year.

Breakaway members of the 1920 Revolution Brigade have been helping U.S. troops in Diyala province, although the Americans insist they are not arming such groups. Instead, U.S. officials say they are re-directing them away from attacks on U.S. troops to confront al-Qaida in Iraq.

Al-Suneid warned that these armed groups will retain their weapons in the future because of the U.S. overtures.

"We insist that we don't need militias but we need Iraqi army and police battalions, brigades and divisions in order to be able to control in the future and not be pulled to conflicts among themselves (armed groups) and between them and the government," he said.

He said that the U.S. authorities have embarrassed al-Maliki' government through acts such as constructing a wall around Baghdad's Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah and repeated raids on suspected Shiite militiamen in the capital's eastern slum of Sadr City.

Al-Maliki has criticized such acts in the past and asked the U.S. troops inform Iraqi authorities before any raid.

"Until now, Petraeus is field commander, but al-Maliki finds difficulty in understanding him because he moves with a purely American vision, and reality needs a coordinated mutual vision," he said. "Therefore there is difficulty in dealing with him but there is determination at the Iraqi leadership to find a common place in dealing with Petraeus."

Al-Suneid strongly criticized the heavy use of arms by U.S. troops against suspected insurgents, saying they violate human rights by endangering civilians.

"American warplanes bomb areas where terrorists are suspected to be in and as you know the bombing is not a good method in detention operations because they lead to civilian casualties among innocent people," he said.

He said the Americans use the methods that produce results fast, including "building walls, random killings, detentions in ways that are far from human rights and this embarrasses the government in front of its people."

"We cannot imagine that a neighborhood is bombed with an excuse that 'we are searching for a terrorist,"' he said.