Chaos in Iraq

After 'The Saga of Ben and the Big Bad WaPo' I will now take extra care to say the following are not my ideas, words, or type 47 code-matrix produced here for the express purpose of bringing the aliens back. They are, in fact, from Professor Cole's site, Informed Comment. His grasp of what's going on in Iraq is far more complete than mine and (since even he's confused) I thought I'd let him speak for himself.

Monday, March 27, 2006

69 Killed in Separate Outbreaks of Violence

All hell broke loose in Iraq on Sunday, but I'm darned if I can figure out most of what happened or why. It seems possible that the US committed two major military blunders that will worsen its relationship with Iraqi political forces.

So they found 30 decapitated bodies near Buhriz, an old Baath stronghold in Diyala northeast of Baghdad. Those killed were a mix of Shiites and Sunnis.

Then a mortar shell landed near the house in Najaf of Muqtada al-Sadr, the nationalist Shiite cleric whose followers are already upset with Sunnis over the blowing up of the Askariyah Shrine in Samarra. There were casualties, but Muqtada wasn't harmed. Everyone just dodged a bullet along with Muqtada, since if the mortar had killed him, Iraq would have been thrown into even greater chaos.

As it is, Muqtada implied that the US was responsible. He called on his followers, according to al-Hayat, to "exercise self-restraint and to remain calm, so as to foil the plots of the Occupation authorities to provoke armed conflict, and rather to practice political resistance in order to expel the foreigners from Iraq."

Then the US and Iraqi forces say they raided a terror cell in Adhamiyah. Adhamiyah is a Sunni district of Baghdad and is still Baath territory.

But somehow the joint US-Iraqi force ended up north, at the Shiite Shaab district. They say that they took fire from Mahdi Army militiamen. But there aren't any such Mahdi Army men in Adhamiyah. I have a sinking feeling that instead of raiding a Sunni Arab building in Adhamiyah, they got disoriented and attacked a Shiite religious center in nearby Shaab instead. Iraqi television angrily showed twenty unarmed corpses on the floor of the religious center, denouncing the US for killing innocent worshippers. The US military is now saying it did not enter any mosques and that anyone killed was killed by Iraqi special ops.

The Mustafa Husayniyah, however, is not a mosque and may not have been distinguishable as a religious edifice to non-Shiites. Shiites mourn their martyred Imams, the descendants of the Prophet, in centers called Husayniyahs after the Imam Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. As for the killing being done by Iraqi troops, if it was a joint mission, then the US forces are going to take some of the blame.

At least one of the dead was a member of the Dawa Party, the party headed by Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari. Official Iraqi television coverage was also uncharacteristically anti-American.

Since the US has been trying to unseat Jaafari, in concert with the Kurds and Sunni Arabs, he responded to the attack testily.

The incident has yet again postponed negotiations on the formation of a new government, since the Iraqi Shiites are universally extremely angry over it. Member of parliament and aide ot Prime Minister Jaafari, Jawad al-Maliki, demanded a full investigation of "this crime," according to al-Hayat.

If the US/Iraq force actually did accidentally hit a Shiite Husayniyah instead of a Sunni Arab terrorist cell, it was a horrible mistake.
Apologies to Professor Cole for reproducing large portions of his article rather than just providing a link. I though it was important and that it would have been a little difficult to understand if cut into pieces.

Rep. Murtha is looking more and more the sage...

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