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Saturday, December 10, 2005

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.Najaf is a largely peaceful Shiite city 100 miles south of Baghdad that has not suffered from the sectarian attacks ravaging other parts of the country. But rivalries between Shiite factions have occasionally become violent, and many complain that militant political parties and militias dominate city government and security forces. But the militiamen who were from Najaf never left the city. They just stopped carrying weapons around the shrine area. In the summer, a fistfight in Najaf between followers and opponents of Sadr triggered battles throughout southern Iraq between the cleric's supporters and followers of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a major party in the ruling Shiite coalition.

In Mosul, major attacks have waned since several major U.S. military operations over the summer. The number of Iraqis killed has also declined, according to an AP count. However, residents and officials take precautions in Iraq's third-largest city. People still avoid going out after dark. Reconstruction projects are dormant. The provincial governor has said authorities had to move large amounts of cash into the nearby Kurdish region. More significantly, ethnic tensions still simmer between the majority Sunni Arab and Kurdish populations in the city that is some 225 miles northwest of Baghdad. U.S. commanders have said they plan to hand control of Mosul to Iraqi police sometime next year, and many worry that attacks on civilians could spread as a result.

A Tale of 2 Scarred Cities: Najaf and Mosul

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Abuse “widespread” in Iraqi Prisons. A US military doctor says US troops intervene when they can, but Iraqis run the jails. After a US raid on a secret Iraqi government jail last month revealed some detainees were tortured and abused there, Interior Minister Bayan Jabr insisted abuse claims were exaggerated and that torture will not be tolerated in the new Iraq.

US soldiers and some Iraqi officials disagree. They say not only is prisoner abuse widespread, but that much of it is carried out by Mr. Jabr's subordinates. Efforts to bring the problem under control during the past year have largely been frustrated by indifference from senior Iraqi officials, they say. Privately, half a dozen US officers have acknowledged to the Monitor that prisoner abuse by Iraqi police is common.

Now, one officer is speaking out. Major R. John Stukey, a US Army doctor who served in Baghdad from January to June, frequently visited Interior Ministry facilities on the east side of Baghdad to assess the health of prisoners. He says he personally treated about a dozen men who had been tortured and observed an environment of overcrowding and neglect. Many more of his patients alleged torture, but in most cases this couldn't be verified, since he often saw them for the first time months after their initial arrests and interrogations. In one east Baghdad facility run by Iraq's Interior Ministry, a few miles from the secret jail that was raided by US forces on Nov. 13, Major Stukey says about 220 men were held in filthy conditions in a space so crowded that many couldn't lie down to sleep.

Widespread Abuse
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