"A big verbal quarrel took place earlier (in the governor's office) between al-Quraishi, who is a Badr (Organization) member, and followers of Sadr," a second policeman, also speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS. "The Sadrists accused Quraishi of targeting the Mehdi."
And so the majority of people in Baqouba, whether they are sympathetic to the Sahwa, the Mehdi army, or to non-affiliated Iraqi security forces, are happy to see the removal of Quraishi.
After the announcement was first made Aug. 11, neither Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki nor the ministry of interior affairs acted on the council's recommendation. People were told by the ministry of interior affairs that Quraishi continued as chief of police regardless of the council's decision.
The next day, Aug. 12, several policemen led by Quraishi demonstrated outside the building of the ruling council, and insulted members who had supported his expulsion.
The orchestrated demonstration was filmed by a local cameraman, who sent a tape to Prime Minister Maliki in Baghdad. It was then that Maliki ordered the discharge of Quraishi. Ministry of interior affairs spokesman Abdul-Kareem Khalaf was named acting police chief.
About the same time as the demonstration, a suicide bomber attacked the convoy of the governor of Diyala, Raad Rasheed, in Baqouba. The governor escaped unharmed but at least one civilian was killed. Iraqi officials immediately imposed a curfew over the city that lasted until Wednesday morning.
Later Tuesday night, Quraishi surrendered his responsibilities and left office.
People of Baqouba, Shias and Sunnis together, congratulated one another on the removal of a "post-occupation dictator." Quraishi, a Shia, had his own militia called the 'Khirnabat men.'
Quraishi's convoys consisted of 120 fighters as his protection group and 20 armored vehicles. Few could challenge his authority, not even the governor.
Quraishi, who was a general in Saddam Hussein's military, was backed by the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), the most powerful Shia group in the Baghdad government.
"The second Saddam has gone," a trader who referred to himself as Abu Ali told IPS. "We look forward to better times."
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Albion Monitor August
15, 2008 (http://www.albionmonitor.com)
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