Coalition Arrests Self Appointed Mayor Al-Zubaidi in Baghdad


BAGHDAD, IRAQ – As Coalition forces were working to help the people of Iraq, in Baghdad Al-Zubaidi had been constantly causing obstruction and chaos behind the scenes. He used his power as a leader in Baghdad to pressure the Iraqi people to work against the Coalition’s efforts to get the city running independently for the many families and businesses. Coalition forces took action to solve the problem and arrested Mohammed Mushin Al Zubaidi Sunday at approximately 4 pm (Kuwaiti Time) while he was in the vicinity of the Coalition Civil Military Coordination Center in Baghdad. Centcom officials report that Al Zubaidi obstructed Coalition efforts to get Iraqis back to work and exercised authority he did not have.

Al-Zubaidi was detained and then removed from Baghdad to prevent his continued misrepresentation of his authority as the mayor of Baghdad in the aftermath of the regime’s defeat. Specifically, Al Zubaidi sent letters to individuals and organizations telling them not to go back to work at utility plants (power, water, sewage) and banks, unless he approved it. Without authority, he purported to fire legitimate, licensed and competent power company employees and in their steed placed his deputy Ubaidi in charge of power. He then appointed other persons to operate water, power, and sewage and bank facilities in Baghdad. Al Zubaidi and Al Ubaidi attempted to exercise authority in the region not representative of the interests of the people in Baghdad while obstructing the normal means of governance for their own self-interests.

No decision has been made on the next step to ensure he does not interfere with the restoration of Iraq.

Elements of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division took Al-Zubaidi and approximately seven other members of his organization into custody. Five have been released with the remainder being held at an internment facility in Iraq.

There were no injuries and no exchange of gunfire.

Al-Zubaidi appeared unannounced in Baghdad in the wake of the Coalition seizure of the Iraqi capital and the destruction of the former regime. In a media statement he issued on April 17, Al-Zubaidi proclaimed himself mayor of Baghdad and further claimed he was sponsored by the Iraqi National Congress and selected by an executive council representing clerics, Shiites, Sunnis, Christians, academics and writers. Then on April 20, Al-Zubaidi began issuing letters to the managers of public services such as power plants and banks in Baghdad directing them not to operate unless they had received documents from him authorizing operations.

Barbara Bodine, Senior ORHA (Organization for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance) Representative for the central region in Iraq, stated the next day that Al-Zubaidi was not the mayor of Baghdad as he had not been elected and had not been recognized by the interim Coalition authority administering Iraq.

Previously on April 18, CFLCC representatives met with Al Zubaidi and informed him that he had no authority. Although he acknowledged his the lack of authority, he continued to subvert Coalition authority and their attempts to restore public services by replacing people who were working with the Coalition with his own people.

Subsequently, on April 23, Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan, Commander of Coalition Forces Land Component Command, delivered a letter to Al-Zubaidi warning him that he was misrepresenting himself, directing him to move out of the Palestine hotel, well away from Coalition forces, and cease his efforts to subvert the Coalition’s restoration of services. Al-Zubaidi did not follow Lt. Gen. McKiernan’s directive. He instead moved across the street into the Sheraton Hotel and continued his subversive actions.

On April 23, McKiernan also issued a proclamation reaffirming to the citizens of Iraq that Coalition Forces are committed to improving the security situation and repairing damaged infrastructure. In addition to encouraging Iraqis to return to work, the proclamation also made clear that the Coalition, and Coalition alone, retains absolute authority within Iraq. In the proclamation — distributed in handbills, through radio programs and in person – McKiernan warned that “those that choose to wield power without the express authority of the Coalition will be considered unfavorably by the Coalition” and that “failure to abide by these instructions will be viewed as criminal behavior.”

Al Zubaidi’s efforts to take political and personal advantage during this transitional period in Iraq’s move to a representative government made it necessary for Coalition Forces to act decisively against him. The Coalition will continue to move decisively against any individual or group exercising or claiming political authority outside the Coalition.

The Coalition is committed to ensuring that the people of Iraq elect their own future political leaders in Iraq. The Coalition will not tolerate and will exercise every option at its disposal to ensure there is no interference with the Iraqi peoples’ moves toward self-governance and reconstruction.

The Coalition, which liberated the Iraqi people from the tyranny and oppression under Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath Party, is committed to ensuring the Iraqi people have the freedom to establish a legitimate representative government, elected by all the citizens. Until such time as that government is formed, the Coalition is the only legitimate government authority in Iraq.

Source: AFPS