One of our most-favorite of Iraq peoples is the Shia cleric Moqtada al Sadr.
Beyond looking like a way-sedated Jack Black with a beard, Moqtada carries enormous political clout, and also has the armed capability to back up the rhetoric, attributes in a country not a real country anymore, but now a series of cells and segments, some bound together, others fighting each other with such a ferocious, cruel and vicious zeal it stuns even the imagination.
Everyday life in Iraq is fairly violent:
- The workweek in Iraq began with several deadly attacks.
At least 23 Iraqis were killed 44 more were wounded across the country.
The biggest attacks were in Baghdad and Jalawla.
Meanwhile, an American soldier died of non-combat related causes.
In this churning, boiling furnace are US GIs, put there on lies, now forced to endure an environment of continuous horror.
And this blatant horror created by Decider George and his nit-wit generals is killing Iraqi civilians by the truckload and warping out an entire generation of US young people.
As historian Juan Cole aptly noted last month, the state of Iraq is the shits:
- By now, summer of 2008, excess deaths from violence in Iraq since March of 2003 must be at least a million. This conclusion can be reached more than one way.
There is not much controversy about it in the scientific community.
Some 310,000 of those were probably killed by US troops or by the US Air Force, with the bulk dying in bombing raids by US fighter jets and helicopter gunships on densely populated city and town quarters.
In absolute numbers, that would be like bombing to death everyone in Pittsburgh, Pa. Or Cincinnati, Oh.
Only, the US is 11 times more populous than Iraq, so 310,000 Iraqi corpses would equal 3.4 million dead Americans.
So proportionally it would be like firebombing to death everyone in Chicago.
And rising up out of this melt-glow is our young Moqtada.
Due to the inherent clout of his daddy, grand-daddy and even his daddy-in-law, Moqtada has the acquired creds to flame the tide of US withdrawal.
- BAGHDAD (AFP) â€” Large crowds of Shiites on Friday denounced the security pact Baghdad is negotiating with Washington for a long-term US military presence in violence-wracked Iraq.
In Baghdad’s Sadr City, the bastion of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, Shiite men, women and children shouted anti-American slogans as they demonstrated against the security deal after the weekly Friday prayers.
“No, no to colonisation! Out, out you occupier!” the crowd shouted in the centre of Sadr City where fierce battles raged in March and April between Shiite militants and US forces in which hundreds of people were killed.
The fighting ended with a truce on May 10.
Despite the reported outcome and contrary to a lot of US military bullshit, Moqtada grew politically stronger and seems to have become even more popular from that little burst of military enthusiasm last spring from the so-called Iraq national army.
And last month, he pulled another hat out of the rabbit hole:
- A select group of Mahdi Army fighters would continue to bear arms and use them against U.S. forces as long as they remain in Iraq.
“Weapons will be in the hands of this group exclusively and will be directed only at the occupier,” Sadr’s statement said. The rest of the militia, believed to number some 60,000 members, would focus on civic projects and religious initiatives that serve the needs of the Shi’ite community, Sadr said.
The new policy signals an end to Sadr’s patience for the tattered unilateral cease-fire, which nominally restrained his men against U.S. troops this spring even as heavy fighting unfolded in southern Iraq and eastern Baghdad.
More significantly, however, his new guerrilla approach seemed to exempt Iraqi government forces from attack by the Mahdi Army, while pitting his legions in a head-to-head political battle with al-Maliki for the hearts and minds of Iraqi voters ahead of the provincial elections.
And continuing to fight U.S. forces seems to reflect an awareness that their long-term presence in Iraq is resented by a majority of Iraqis â€” a resentment that also appears to have caused a stalemate in negotiations between the Iraqi and U.S. governments over a security agreement providing for a long-term American presence in Iraq.
And Moqtada’s whole agenda is pretty open: US get the hell out!
And these so-called negotiations have become accursed, signaling a situation Decider George and his boys want to have no part — an Iraq national referendum on the agreements.
If allowed to vote on the issue, the Iraqi people would send the US packing:
- Baghdad – Iraq’s Shiite leadership indicated Friday that it will press the Baghdad government to hold a national referendum on the issue of a further stationing of US forces in the country.
Imam Sadreddin al Kabandji said at the Friday prayers in the Shiite holy city of Najaf: ‘The Iraqi nation regards with concern the Iraqi-American treaty whose contents are not exactly known.’
The imam, an aide to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the supreme religious leader of Iraq’s Shiites, said that the draft of the long- term military and cooperation agreement which Baghdad is currently negotiating with Washington must finally be made public.
‘The treaty must be presented to the people and the clergy,’ he demanded. It was unacceptable that the government was negotiating ‘behind closed doors’ with the Americans, al-Kbandji added.
His comments came as an original deadline for the treaty to be ready for signing by the end of July was approaching.
The treaty is to govern the conditions applying to those US forces remaining in Iraq after the current UN mandate expires at the end of the year.
But several issues remain unresolved, including the number of US army bases to remain in Iraq, immunity of American soldiers from prosecution, the operations of foreign security firms, and when US forces must request permission from the Baghdad government for a military operation.
And Moqtada’s take on this?
A launch into drive-the-crusaders-out mode.
One real-good analogy on how Moqtada might perform this not-so-clueless trick was noted last week by Gary Brecher at AlterNet.
The big look-a-like is the UK vs Northern Ireland saga and how Moqtada is creating his own version.
- Fact number one about guerrilla wars: They’re not over until the guerrillas win. Mao set out the guerrilla’s viewpoint 80 years ago: “The enemy wants to fight a short war, but we simply will not let him.” The longer the guerrillas stay in the game, the sicker the occupying army gets. Sooner or later, they’ll go home — because they can. It’s that simple, and it works. So anyone who tells you it’s over is just plain ignorant. That’s one thing you can rule out instantly.
The glass-half-full school of thought took Sadr’s announcement to mean that he’s getting out of the violence business, trying to marginalize the “special groups,” which is U.S. Army talk for hardcore Shia militias, and move his party to the good ol’ middle of the road.
See, that’s classic misreading of Iraqi reality as if it were U.S. politics.
It’s like we keep trying to pretend that Iraq under occupation is just a dusty version of Iowa. Sorry, but a country under enemy occupation doesn’t think or act like Des Moines.
If you want a good analogy to what Sadr is actually doing, it’s easy to find one, but you can’t look at American politics.
You need to go to research other countries occupied by enemy armies, where urban insurgencies started off like Sadr’s Mahdi Army did — as neighborhood defense groups protecting the locals against mobs from across the ethnic divide.
And when you start thinking on those lines, there’s a really close, clear parallel between what Sadr is doing now and another insurgency that shifted from neighborhood-gang/paramilitary organization to small armed cells, with civilian support channeled into an above-ground political wing: the IRA back in the 1970s.
The comparison is really kind of unmistakable.
However, will the US linger for decades like the Brits in Northern Ireland?
We don’t think so.
If we’re fortunate maybe the US will leave this afternoon.