2004 August 29 Sunday
More Shiites Seen As Radicalized By Second Round Of Najaf Fighting

Scott Baldauf has another interesting report from Iraq for the Christian Science Monitor about how Shia Iraqis are reacting to the latest round of fighting. Baldauf claims that more Shiites are being radicalized by each round of fighting.

All sides are claiming victory in Najaf - the Americans say they expelled Sadr's forces, the Sadrists say they forced the Americans to withdraw from Najaf - but the momentum may be with Sadr. Interviews with Iraqis since the siege in Najaf ended indicate some of the moderates becoming radical, the radicals becoming suicidally committed, and the average Iraqi Shiite - while discontented with Sadr's methods - showing no sign of uniting in a backlash against him.

There might really be a silent majority still opposed to Sadr. But they aren't willing to pick up rifles to kill Mahdi warriors even as they wish the Mahdists would calm down and not fight American soldiers. There is no extremism for democracy or for liberalism in Iraq. But there is plenty of religious, nationalist, and tribal extremism.

While young impatient and violent extremists join the Mahdi Army to fight to expel American troops Sistani tries to convince the Shias to be patient and to take power through elections.

Ayatollah Sistani believes that the Shiites made a mistake in rebelling against the British in 1920, causing the colonial power to rely on the minority Sunnis, marginalizing Shiites for the rest of the century, says Cole. "Sistani is convinced that if the Shiites will just be patient, they can come to power via the ballot box. And then it will be relatively easy to just insist the Americans leave, without the need for violence."

Will an elected government dominated by Shiites Arabs be seen as sufficiently legitimate to calm all or even most of the young Mahdi fighters? Will an elected government be able to attract enough Shiites to join a government army and to fight hard to put down Sunni rebellions in Fallujah and other Sunni Triangle cities?

Anyone want to hazard a prediction of how Iraq will be 6 months from now? Will an elected government tell the US military to pack it up and leave? Or will Shiite extremists prevent a January 2005 election from being held? Will the Mahdis start round 3 of Najaf fighting in a couple of months? Or will the center of fighting shift to Sadr City?

Update: Also see my previous post Attack Pace Has Not Slackened In Iraq.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 August 29 08:43 PM  Mideast Iraq


Comments
M.G. Brown said at August 30, 2004 1:56 PM:

One at a time.

1) Will an elected government dominated by Shiites Arabs be seen as sufficiently legitimate to calm all or even most of the young Mahdi fighters?

The edicts Bremer passed, before leaving back in June, will prevent a "sufficiently legitimate" government from being elected. (A legitimate, elected goverment would, let's face it, demand two things: 1) the withdrawl of all foreign troops, and 2) Iraqi control of Iraqi oil. The US Gov't, controlled by the military industrial complex, will do everything in its power to prevent either from happening. More US troops. Uncle Sam wants you! Draft, Summer 2005.) So no, and nothing short of total withdrawl of US troops will "calm" the Mahdi fighters. And if anything happens to Sadr...


2) Will an elected government be able to attract enough Shiites to join a government army and to fight hard to put down Sunni rebellions in Fallujah and other Sunni Triangle cities?

Again with this notion of "elected government". An actual elected government would, yes, especially if Sistani (the most powerful man in Iraq, in my opinion) was at the helm, but one won't happen until long after we're gone, probably not even then.

Oh and once we're gone, Iraq will become what it's always been: Iran's long lost twin.


3) Anyone want to hazard a prediction of how Iraq will be 6 months from now?

Well, if Sunnis and Shiites unite against us, we're screwed. And if they don't and end up fighting against each other, we're also screwed. And if things continue as they are, we're---yep, you guess it---screwed.

It's a good thing there's all that oil over there. In the coming months, we're going to need lots and lots of lube.


4) Will an elected government tell the US military to pack it up and leave?

No, an "elected government" will not tell us to leave, for the simple face that we'll have a say in who gets elected---again, the 87 edicts passed by Bremer. That and any gov't we put in place will need US troops to prop it up Vietnam-style.


5) Or will Shiite extremists prevent a January 2005 election from being held?

Well, it'll be necissary to keep up the charade of Iraqi sovereignty, so I suspect that elections will be held. But they'll be like the ones recently held in Chechnia. Shams.


6) Will the Mahdis start round 3 of Najaf fighting in a couple of months?

I doubt it. Sadr's power base is in Sadr City. Sistani won't be able to do there what he did recently (and curiously, right after a trip to the UK) in Najaf: put Sadr in his place.

7) Or will the center of fighting shift to Sadr City?

The center of fighting has already shifted to Sadr City, and I know this because my little brother is there, at Camp Quervos. He's with the 1-41 out of Fort Riley, Kansas. Things in Najaf have actually made things where he is worse.

The battle, the way I see it, has always been in Sadr City, in the Shitte-filled slums of Baghdad. If only the card-carrying members of PNAC in the White House and Pentagon had realized this at some point, say pre-war.

M.G. Brown said at August 30, 2004 9:55 PM:

Sadr loyalty grows, even as Sistani returns

By Scott Baldauf | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

...

In most cities where the Mahdi Army is present, there are Mahdi Army religious courts for resolving disputes and punishing criminals; Mahdi Army police patrols; and even Mahdi Army town councils for planning social programs.

All of these services pay political dividends, earning the admiration of many Shiites who don't necessarily support Sadr or his militia. And while Sadr's militia has suffered major losses in Najaf, by standing up to the US and Iraqi forces for weeks, Sadr has also raised his stature in the eyes of many Iraqis.

[edited by ParaPundit to eliminate having the whole article here - that probably violate copyright]

noone said at August 31, 2004 3:20 AM:

"Oh and once we're gone, Iraq will become what it's always been: Iran's long lost twin."

Persians and Arabs have a strong historical dislike of each other.Once we're gone,they'll remember that and then.....................

What's going on now is simply a preparation for the real war to come,like armies fighting for tactical and strategic areas needed for the real attack.

It's long been claimed that the neo-con stratagey was to destabilize the mid-east,if so I think they've succeded,a US pull-out will creatre a vacuum that Sunnis,Arab Shias,Iranians and various groups from extremists to mafioso will seek to fill.
A vacuum that could pull in Kuwait,SA,Jordan,Syria and even Turkey(who might see this as an opportunity to eliminate the Kurds).

The neo-cons have succeded,but is turnig the entire ME into Mogadishu really all that smart?


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