Tuesday, April 06, 2004

More on Sadr's insurgency

Sadr's aide and head of his office in Najaf, Qays Al-Khaz'ali, has declared the latest looting and killing spree going on in several Iraqi southern cities as an Intifada against the occupation. Speaking on behalf of Muqtada, he stated that they will certainly not calm down any soon because the Quran orders them not to; "Fight those who fight against you". And he has also made it clear that they stand united with their 'Sunni brothers' in Ramadi, Fallujah, and Adhamiya in the resistance.

Muqtada himself though doesn't seem as if he has made up his mind yet. I believe the fool senses that he has blundered seriously. Earlier yesterday he issued an announcement to his followers to cease the 'demonstrations', and that he had left the Kufa mosque and took refuge at Imam Ali's shrine in Najaf, typically hiding among civilians and holy sites like the coward he is. Later, however, he issued another written statement in which he reiterated his pledge to Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbollah leader, adding to it that he will be the 'striking hand' for Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani. One of his aides claimed that a delegation from Sistani met with Sadr informing him that the leading Shi'ite cleric supports Sadr and his followers and that their cause is legitimate. This contradicts Shitstani's statements yesterday, indicating that the old wizard is either suffering from senility or is playing his own dirty tricks. None of Sistani's agents have either denied or confirmed this claim, but they say that he will personally meet with Sadr tomorrow.

Meanwhile, violent clashes continue in Nassiriya and Ammara between Al-Mahdi militiamen and coalition troops. There were reports that the militia had kidnapped two South Korean construction workers in Nassiriya. At Kut it was reported that IP and Ukrainian forces regained control of the local tv and radio station after it had been overrun by Sadr's henchmen, but that fighting resumed later in the evening. Also, reports of fighting at Diwaniyah, which had been the only major city in the south unaffected by the recent developments up until yesterday.

Of course, Sadr has set up offices in almost every city, town, and village in the south. And I have mentioned earlier that they had assumed full control over my small village where I work in the Basrah governorate weeks ago, terrorizing IP officers, civil servants, and doctors but nobody was listening. I don't think I will be heading back there any soon now. What surprises me is the almost professional coordination of the uprisings in all of these areas. I'm assuming, of course, that the money and equipment supplied by our dear Mullahs in Iran is being put to use good enough, not to mention the hundreds of Pasderan and Iranian intelligence officers.. sorry I mean Iranian Shia pilgrims that have been pouring into Iraq for months now.

The situation in Baghdad looks the same as it was in the couple of days before the war last year. Streets are almost empty by seven in the evening, a whole lot of Baghdadis have remained home yesterday for fear of getting cut off from their neighbourhoods in event of Americans blocking off streets or something. There was an ongoing military operation very close to our neighbourhood almost all of Monday night till midday. At one point I imagined that the Apaches were landing on our roof (that was after I published the previous post), and explosions kept rocking our house which brought back uncanny memories of last April 10th when there was a fierce confrontation between Fedayeen and advancing Americans just outside our doorsteps.

I was standing outside with neighbours yesterday afternoon gossiping when a car drove by, threw a couple of fliers at us, shouting "read them, may Allah increase your reward". The fliers were signed by a group which called itself Saif Allah Albattar (Allah's striking sword) at Ramadi, Fallujah, Adhamiya, and Diyala, which advised Iraqis to remain home on April 9th (the anniversary of the occupation), stating that they would not be responsible if anyone failed to do so. Someone else talked about another group called the Iraqi Islamic Army (groups like these seem to pop up every other day) which claimed its responsibility for the killings of the 4 Americans in Fallujah last week, decribing them as 'Jews'.

Anyway, it seems that fighting is ongoing in Sadr city, northeast of Baghdad. A total of 110 Iraqis and 19 coalition soldiers killed in the last 12 hours according to Al-Jazeera, which I have never witnessed being any more hateful and provocative until this day. They keep displaying headlines like 'Occupation forces target more women and children in Sadr city' or 'Resistance in Fallujah forces occupation forces to withdraw from locations'.

A couple of GC members have shyly spoken against the violence. Ayad Allawi (INA) first described the uprisings as being directed by 'evil and dark forces who wish no prosperity for Iraqis', then he started beseeching his 'brother' Muqtada Al-Sadr to stay calm (Even he is scared from Sadr's thugs?). SCIRI leader, Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim condemned the behaviour of occupation forces in killing civilians in Najaf and called for their punishment. The Iraqi Ministry of Justice stated that they had absolutely nothing to do with the arrest warrant for Muqtada Al-Sadr. And you want us to keep hope?

No one knows where it is all heading. If this uprising is not crushed immediately and those
militia not captured then there is no hope at all. If you even consider negotiations or appeasement, then we are all doomed.