Wednesday, August 10, 2005

So much for the mayor of Baghdad

From the Times (see here):

Armed men entered Baghdad's municipal building during a blinding dust storm on Monday, deposed the city's mayor and installed a member of Iraq's most powerful Shiite militia...

The deposed mayor, Alaa al-Tamimi [appointed by Paul Bremer, then by the central government], who was not in his offices at the time, recounted the events in a telephone interview on Tuesday and called the move a municipal coup d'├ętat. He added that he had gone into hiding for fear of his life.

"This is the new Iraq," said Mr. Tamimi, a secular engineer with no party affiliation. "They use force to achieve their goal."

The group that ousted him insisted that it had the authority to assume control of Iraq's capital city and that Mr. Tamimi was in no danger. The man the group installed, Hussein al-Tahaan, is a member of the Badr Organization, the armed militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, known as Sciri.

Ah, local politics. This looks like a coup, but it may reflect nothing more than political rivalry between the mayor's office and the city council:

Baghdad is the only city in Iraq that is its own province, and the city council had previously appointed Mr. Tahaan as governor of Baghdad province, with some responsibilities parallel to Mr. Tamimi's. But the mayor's office was clearly the more powerful office, a fact that proved to be a painful thorn in the side of Mr. Makkia [the elected city council chief, and a member of the Shiite party that dominated the January elections], who believed that the council, which he controls, should hold sway in Baghdad.

And now, apparently, it does.

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