Baghdad looks so exhausted these days and so do her people; the relentless violence, the lack of basic services and the scorching heat abolishes human desire to do anything or to even think of anything. In general laziness and wariness is the common feeling in the city.
Even the parliament failed to convene this week because less than 50 MPs showed up. One can also easily notice that traffic on the streets is not as heavy as it used to be and people are getting less interested in talking politics.
Well, the harsh conditions and lack of activity could also be seen from the declining number of updates coming from the Iraqi bloggers in general!
Living for many of us was reduced to existence long time ago; dreams and desires are shrinking under the heavy shadows of the situation.
The government too looks exhausted trying to face all these crises under pressure from a community that is demanding quick solutions and unwilling to listen to the government's excuses.
The heads of the authorities have been busy touring the neighboring countries looking for support, the interesting thing about these visits is that the Sunni delegate (speaker of parliament) was sent to Shia Iran, the Shia PM went to the Sunni gulf countries and the Kurdish foreign minister of Iraq went to talk to the Turks!
I like this distribution of roles, at least this way we can rest assured that the delegates will be negotiating for Iraq not against it!!
Inside Baghdad, statements keep coming about the number of militant groups expressing interest in al-Maliki's reconciliation project and maybe the announcement of the National Dialogue minister Akram al-Hakeem when he said that the number was approaching 20 supports the idea that insurgents still want to make use of this amnesty opportunity. But then the minister adds that "all of these groups but one are of little significance on the ground and the only significant group preferred its name to be kept a secret for the time being…".
On the other hand, the issue of militias remains the tedious riddle facing the government who realizes how difficult it's going to be to deal with these octopus-like multi-headed bodies and there are rumors here that the SCIRI and Sadrists are determined to bring down al-Maliki. The Sadrists in particular are deliberately embarrassing the government in this regard by behaving like government and rebels at the same time and I think I find them pretty close to Hamas who's also lost their way between being government and remaining as "resistance".
In related news, yesterday Sadr announced the shutting down all his offices in Iraq and said this was to protest the government's slow work in rebuilding the golden dome of Samarra, meanwhile there are other news talking about rifts among the ranks of the Sadr militia itself and I suspect inclusion of the names of two "renegades" from the Sadr trend in the most wanted list lately announced by the government supports this news (scroll down to #24 and 27). But the news circulating in Baghdad doesn't speak only of those two but is also focuses around a new rising name in the world of militias; that's Abu Diri'.
Abu Diri' (whose first name is believed to be Salim) is a member of the Mehdi Army and gained the nickname which means 'the armor bearer' after he murdered an MNF soldier and seized his body armor during one the Sadrists battles against the MNF.
Ever since that day he wears the body armor and never puts it away. People say this man commands hundreds (or thousands in some accounts) of "former" Mehdi army soldiers.
The story of Abu Diri' describes him as the killer of Sunnis and suggests that his role is confined to doing a 'Shia body count' after each terror attack on Shia areas and then kidnapping and murdering an equal number of Sunnis. Of course the story has different versions and the ratio varies with the level of enthusiasm of the story teller; an objective teller would set the ratio at 1:1 but a sympathizer would raise it to the level of 10 Sunnis in return for each 1 Shia casualty.
I really do not buy this rift or division story as much as I see we're facing an Iraqi version of Hamas here; one foot in the cabinet and the other in the insurgents' trench and talking about an armed wing working independently from the main body is merely an attempt to make the part who's involved in the government look innocent form the violence committed by their associates.
The militias had sent clear messages to the government that they will not give up easily and probably the latest kidnappings that reached top officials in the government reiterate these messages, it's like telling al-Maliki "No matter what you do we're going to do anything we like, anytime we like and anywhere we like against any target we choose".
The situation isn't nice at all and al-Maliki's cabinet is going to face a very rough summer.