[Marxism] Re: Was Sistani "the true victor" in Najaf?

Brian Shannon Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Sun Aug 29 12:20:49 MDT 2004


The headline and first few paragraphs imply that Sadr is the winner. 
However headlines are usually written by someone other than the writer 
of the story.
___________

Standoff bolstered Sadr's support
Interviews with Iraqi Shiite clerics reveal that moderates are 
increasingly supporting Sadr's anti-US campaign.

By Scott Baldauf | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

BAGHDAD - Six months ago, Sheikh Jawad al-Khalasi was what most would 
consider an Iraqi Shiite moderate. Critical of the militant ideas of 
fellow Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, Mr. Khalasi preached a more 
cooperative approach toward the Americans and the interim Iraqi 
government.

Then, last Thursday, when Iraqi snipers opened fire on him and 
thousands of demonstrators converging on Najaf, hoping to end the siege 
there and protect the shrine, Khalasi changed his mind. Now he's a 
radical, a troubling sign that Mr. Sadr has grown stronger from a 
three-week-long standoff that the Iraqi government once hoped might 
reduce Sadr to irrelevance.

Sadr and his forces agreed on Friday to put down their weapons and 
withdraw from the Shrine of Imam Ali, one of Shiite Islam's holiest 
sites. But interviews in Baghdad suggest that Sadr is walking away from 
the standoff with a widening base and supporters who are more militant 
than before.

"This is the beginning of the end for the Americans," says Khalasi, 
speaking from his home in Baghdad's upper-class Shiite district of 
Kadhimiya. "What will happen now is that all the political parties will 
unite to kick the Americans out of Iraq. You have seen even the Sunni 
people starting to support Moqtada. All this will encourage people to 
be united."
. . .

But as Mahdi Army fighters say they have become even more energized by 
the siege of Najaf - and they claim to have signed up 3,000 suicide 
bombers for training - the citizens around them appear to be growing 
tired of war.

Yet this growing dissatisfaction with the Mahdi Army is nowhere near an 
active backlash. Those Iraqi Shiites who are most likely to reject Sadr 
also reject involvement in Iraqi politics. They follow the lead of 
Ayatollah Sistani, who says that religious and political matters must 
be kept separate. Experts say that this position can only cement Sadr's 
position on the political scene.
. . .

[A doctor who blames the Mahdi Army says:] "Ninety-nine percent of the 
injuries are caused by Mahdi Army fighters," he says, speaking in 
English to avoid being overheard by Mahdi Army officials, who now 
administer the hospital. "Every morning and night I see families coming 
in - father, mother, children, all injured by mortars. These are not 
simple injuries, but two or three injuries per person. It's terrible."
. . .

"All Shiites - no, all Iraqis - have the same reaction to the Mahdi 
Army," says Mr. Abbassly, business manager of the Kadhimiya Shrine. 
"These people are very brave, but they are too young and too 
passionate, and sometimes they do things without thinking rationally."

In full at:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0830/p04s01-woiq.html





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