Information operations

Baghdad – Ten Years Ago: 7 JAN 07

WEEK 8 – 7 Jan 07:  This week describes the travails after Saddam’s execution. Similar to the cartoon’s depiction, the Shia clergy backed by Iran have greater sway in Iraq than the elected Iraqi politicians.

I am now caught up in time and will post once a week to correspond to the date ten years prior.

Rumor Control

Sometimes, the Government of Iraq never misses an opportunity to mess up an opportunity.  Saddam’s execution was another instance.  It was a travesty with regards to when it was performed and how it was performed.  The latter being well documented in the Internet videos with the masked men screaming “Moqtada! Moqtada!” prior to hanging Saddam.

I have listened to a Sunni Kurd, a Shia Iraqi, a Coptic Egyptian and a Christian Iraqi all lament how this was disrespectful of the Sunni Eid holiday.  Never mind it has made Saddam a martyr in the eyes of many inside and outside of Iraq.  As it was, the execution was going to do this for certain people.  Worse still, it will make reconciliation, which is already difficult, perhaps impossible in the next year.

What is more amazing is how many of the native Iraqis I spoke to all have an experience of Saddam’s oppression yet said his execution was improper or poorly handled.  This speaks to the importance of religion and respect in the Iraqi culture.

We know we cannot afford to ignore these factors, yet it is as if the Government of Iraq was ignoring it or intentionally abusing the religion and respect angles.  We can learn to understand how to maintain religion and respect, but our actions can be undermined by the word on the street.  The word is that reconciliation cannot happen because of the way the execution was performed.

This leads to the importance of rumor in the Iraqi culture.  The rumor mill has blamed the Iranians and the United States for pushing it in order to slap the Sunnis in the face.  Supposedly, Abd al-Aziz al Hakim the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq political party along with Shia and Iranian officials were watching from behind a glass wall.  The latest rumor and propaganda has identified Moqtada al Sadr as the masked man standing to Saddam’s right.

Now, one thing I learned about Iraqi rumor is not to deny the claim but to deflect the blame with a question.  A couple of days ago, a press office for Sadr refuted being at the execution.  It is unclear if it was a flat denial or a circular response, but either way, his office seemed to bite on the rumor.

Prime Minister Maliki, however, didn’t react to any rumor.  Earlier in the week, he admonished the supporters of the ousted regime to discontinue their efforts and support the current government.

At Army Day, Maliki invited all back to the table.  The Army, he said, should be for all Iraqis and should not be biased towards any political or sectarian trend and that it should not be used to promote the political agenda of any party.  The new Army must be composed of all members of Iraqi society.  It is time to turn over a new leaf.

It is a start.  Let’s see how we can assist.