So here's the latest of the rumors circulating in Iraq, particularly in the Shia community as I heard it yesterday when I met a friend from the south; a young journalist who I consider a reliable source for all kinds of unreliable news. The new rumor he brought with him this time is built over an existing background of conflicts within the UIA. It goes like this:
Two weeks ago the forces of the interior ministry arrested a group of militants that are believed responsible for a number of crimes. Those terror suspects turned out to be members of the Badr organization whose leader is Abdul Aziz al-Hakeem.
Al-Hakeem paid PM Maliki a visit and asked him to order the release of the detained Badr members, a request that upset Maliki and to which he responded by telling al-Hakeem "I am trying to build a state here and you come to ruin it?!! There's no way I'm doing what you are asking me to do".
The two men exchanged very harsh words and al-Hakeem was so angry when he rushed out of al-Maliki's office.
The creator of this rumor went as far as connecting the above story with al-Hakeem's sudden trip to Iran and Bush's visit to Baghdad, here's what my friend added:
People in the south are saying that al-Hakeem flew immediately to Iran to discuss Maliki's defiant position with the Mullahs and as a reaction Bush came all the way from America to tell Maliki that he has America standing on his side.
This rumor may sound so naive, especially in the last part of it but no smoke is without fire as we say here. The story was inspired by the fact that the UIA is divided over a number of issues and that Dawa and SCIRI were not getting along well for quite a long time; this was particularly visible during the months that followed the December election and the dispute over choosing a prime minister.
The dispute resurfaced again last week and this time in a more personal way between al-Hakeem and al-Maliki, this was when a draft of al-Maliki's reconciliation plan was leaked to the local press. This leaked draft included a point about bringing back former high-ranking Sunni officers and giving them high positions in the army and this particular point in addition to a division over the description of "resistance" led to intense disagreement inside the UIA and especially from al-Hakeem according to local news reports.
Apparently this rumor was created and spread by some of al-Maliki's supporters who wanted to paint a better image of their boss but even if it was entirely made up it will still indicate an inclination in the PM's close circle to do what's needed to prove that the new head of government is competent and does not allow his sectarian emotions to stop him from doing his job.
Anyway, this rumor left a positive impression among the people who heard it, at least that's what I could sense from the enthusiastic tone of my friend.