Juan Cole: Cheney's Plan for a Secret Police in Iraq Could Turn Iraqis Against the Government Over Time





Juan Cole, writing in his blog (Jan. 4, 2004):

According to the Telegraph Dick Cheney has managed to put through a plan to have the US CIA train an Iraqi secret police (mukhabarat) and fund it at $3 bn., as part of the"black" CIA budget. The article claims that this secret police apparatus will allow the US to continue to control Iraq even after a civilian Iraqi government is supposedly installed on July 1. I have to say that this plan worries me. At a time when the CIA is all that stands between al-Qaeda and several tall US buildings, I think the Agency should be concentrating its efforts on tracking down Bin Laden and other persons of similar mindset. Does it have a spare $3 bn. in its budget for that?

It would have been nice to see an Arab country without a secret police. Why aren't ordinary police enough? I remember when, after the CIA overthrew elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953, it then trained the notorious SAVAK, an Iranian secret police that went on to terrorize ordinary Iranians for decades under the increasingly repressive and megalomaniacal shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Eventually, SAVAK tactics helped sour the people on the shah to the extent that they overthrew him in the 1978-79 Revolution.

Cheney has been dealing with the Middle East for at least 15 years now. He is a bright man, and in his youth did work toward a Ph.D. in political science. Surely he knows what happened in Iran, and how unwise it would be to put a strongman in power in Baghdad, backed by a US-trained secret police? It has Yogi Berra's phrase,"deja vu all over again," written all over it. I wouldn't give such a government even odds of surviving a decade, much less two. But, well, Cheney gets to decide these things. The rest of us will just have to live with the consequences of his unwisdom, 10 or 20 years down the road.



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