Post-WikiLeaks: Where Does Iraq’s Government Stand?

US Orders to 'Ignore' Iraqi Torture Are One Thing, What About the Torturers Themselves?

With revelations of tens of thousands of new civilian deaths and an enormous number of incidents to pour over, the full effect of the Iraq War WikiLeaks release may not be known for some time.

But while the focus is naturally on US policies, or in the case of the New York Times on trying to spin the reports as another reason for hostility toward Iran, the question of the revelations’ potential to embarrass the Iraqi government and possibly alter the nation’s political landscape is perhaps being underestimated.

Al-Jazeera reports on Gen. Sanchez giving specific orders for troops not to investigate the widespread torture being carried out by the Iraqi government. This is certainly problematic for the US as an occupation force, but how much moreso for the Iraqi government which were, after all, the actual torturers in this case.

The WikiLeaks documents span 2004-2009, meaning they cover the entire terms of Ayad Allawi and Ibrahim al-Jaafari, as well as virtually the entire first term of Nouri al-Maliki. The revelation of the extent to which these regimes behaved as a bunch of thugs must certainly have far more impact on Iraq’s internal politics than the revelation that the US was keeping the worst of it a secret.

Which might strengthen the bargaining position of, say, the Sadr faction, which was outside of the government during this and can therefore claim a unique sort of innocence, at least on this issue. It also remains a distinct possibility that no government will be formed, and should that happen it seems inevitable that, in a fresh election, Iraqi voters will want to hold those in power to some measure of account for the abuses.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.