|The US has remained largely silent following Iraq’s recent crackdown on press freedom.
Government security forces in Iraq have arrested, beaten, and shot protesters, leaving hundreds dead or wounded, however, was similar to that of other autocratic rulers around the region.
Maliki’s US allies, however, have turned a blind eye to the violence and repression, with the top spokesman for the US military in Iraq praising the same Iraqi units which eyewitnesses have identified as key players in the crackdown while ignoring the outrages attributed to them.
Maliki cracks down
After ousting long-time dictator Saddam Hussein from power in April 2003, the US government pumped an estimated half a billion dollars or more, much of it by way of the US defence department, into the development of a national press in Iraq.
The Pentagon’s plan, as documents obtained by the National Security Archive show, was to dominate the media landscape in cooperation with a friendly Iraqi national government.
Reports suggest that Maliki is now intent on dismantling much of what remains of the free press in Iraq.
In the days after the crackdown, I talked with Major General Jeffrey Buchanan, the chief spokesman for the United States Forces-Iraq (USF-I), and asked him about Iraq’s army intelligence units and Federal Police Force.
Involved in training Iraqi forces almost every year since 2003 (the only exception being 2007), Buchanan told me by telephone: “I personally was involved in training the Federal Police a number of years ago and it’s pretty inspirational seeing them on several subsequent tours and how much progress they have made.”