London, Asharq Al-Awsat- An Iraqi political official has stated that “security services associated with the outgoing Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, have strengthened procedures to monitor Iraqi political leaders, from several political blocs”, indicating that “one of these procedures is to listen in on phone calls involving those politicians”.
The political official, who is not connected to the government and preferred anonymity for security reasons, told Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone from Baghdad, that “we’ve noticed for a long time that there has been interference with our telephone lines, which prompted us to be suspicious about the presence of surveillance, and interception of our communications, through a specific agency”. He pointed out that “we initially suspected the American troops, but their technicians confirmed that they were neither monitoring nor listening in to our telephone conversations”.
The official added “I was convinced that our technical equipment had indeed been tapped, and that the agency listening in to our communications is the security agency associated with the office of the outgoing Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki”. He pointed out that “a close ally of al-Maliki’s office, who is sympathetic to our bloc, informed us frankly not to talk via the telephone about our plans, or anything that is critical of the Prime Minister. The fact is that there is a security agency which is hijacking our conversations, and this agency belongs to al-Maliki’s office”.
The political official said “there have been proposals and plans discussed with the members of our bloc through mobile phones, some of which have leaked to the media, despite us maintaining the confidentiality of such plans, which relate to alliances between blocs, and efforts to form the next government”. He warned that “these procedures are not limited to wire-tapping alone, but there are extensive security checks on political leaders, conducted by monitoring elements from security services, to follow their movements. Some security forces also have gathering points near the headquarters of leaders, or political parties that are not close to the government”.
According to the political official’s view, “these [gathering] points are the field headquarters for some security services to implement any scheme they are ordered to carry out by their leaders. The tapping of telephone wires reveals that the [current] government is concerned about talks developing towards the formation of a [new] government, or that it doubts the activities of these parties and Iraqi politicians”.
The political official indicated that “among those affected by wiretapping were the leaders and offices of the ‘Iraqiya’ coalition, including the coalition leader, former Prime Minister of the Iraqi government Dr. Iyad Allawi, the leaders of the Islamic Supreme Council, headed by Ammar al-Hakim, leaders of the Sadrist Movement, led by Muqtada al-Sadr, and some leaders and members of the State of Law coalition, whom al-Maliki has reservations about their loyalty”. He said that “security forces are dispersed in al-Zawra Park, opposite the headquarters and offices of the ‘Iraqiya’ bloc, and the residence of its leader, Allawi. These forces are present claim they are there to ‘maintain’ al-Zawra Park”.
He mentioned that by al-Maliki had taken decisions, as Prime Minister, and General Commander of the Armed Forces, to lift some concrete barriers and re-open some streets. However, there has been no implementation of these decisions except with regards to the office of Allawi, where the majority of surrounding concrete barriers have been raised. Furthermore, al-Zaitun Street, next to the Karkh district of Baghdad, has been re-opened to the public, although it is closed from the other side because of the wall of the Green Zone, and thus the street does not lead in any direction (the end is closed). Meanwhile, other streets, close to the headquarters and residences of government leaders and associates of the government, have remained closed.
It is common knowledge that Allawi, in contrast to the majority of political leaders, does not reside in the Green Zone.
In a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, an Iraqi security official initially refused to comment on the subject, however he agreed on the condition of anonymity, and said “I believe that these procedures are to protect the Iraqi officials, in particular during the recent period which has seen assassinations and attempts to kill some politicians”. He pointed out that “their [security] services were not informed of these procedures, but there is a security apparatus directly following [the orders of] al-Maliki’s office, as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, and this apparatus is subject to the orders of the Commanding General’.