Mosque Arms Stockpiles Targeted in Ramadi
Alexandra Zavis of AP reports that US troops raided 7 mosques in Ramadi on Tuesday and arrested a leading Sunni clergyman, Abdul Alim al-Saadi, and his son. The move came after the outbreak of fighting between US troops and local guerrillas at Ramadi. On Monday night, guerrillas had fired mortar shells at city hall, starting the fighting, and leaving three policemen and a civilian dead.
Al-Saadi is a leader of the Provincial League of Anbar Clergy, according to al-Sharq al-Awsat. Some local sources alleged that the US dynamited the doors of some of the mosques. Shaikh Abdullah Abu Omar of the Ramadi Mosque is quoted as saying, “This cowboy behaviour cannot be accepted. The Americans seem to have lost their senses and have gone out of control.”
Shaikh Muhammad Bashar al-Faydi, a spokesman for the Association of Muslim Scholars, to which al-Saadi seems to be linked, launched an appeal to Pope John Paul II to condemn the attacks on the city’s mosques, according to al-Jazeerah.
The Marine spokesman replied, “The First Marine Division respects the religious and cultural significance represented by mosques. However, when insurgents violate the sanctity of the mosque by using the structure for military purposes, the site loses its protective status.”
While the Marine spokesman is certainly correct in the law, there is no way that the US can hope to win hearts and minds in the Sunni Muslim areas if it launches frontal assaults on mosques. There just is not a way to put a good spin on that for most Muslims.
US warplanes stuck Fallujah twice on Tuesday, attempting to target guerrilla safe houses. They appear to have destroyed a popular kebab restaurant in the downtown area, along with another house. The stikes killed five and wounded two, according to the Fallujah hospital. The US military insisted that there were powerful secondary explosions at the building, suggesting it had been used as a place to store explosives.
Although the stated reason for the US operations in Ramadi and Fallujah is to restore order in preparation for elections in January, this reprinted New York Times article raises severe questions about whether the Sunni Arabs will feel enthusiastic about voting in American-sponsored elections any time soon. The legacy of bitterness likely to be generated by the further conquest of the Sunni Arabs seems likely to be destabilizing into at least the medium term.