*The Shiite expatriate group, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq in Tehran, has condemned the Baath regime of Iraq for putting its soldiers into the mosque complex at the shrine of Imam `Ali in Najaf. This was a ploy to trick the US into shelling the shrine, in a bid to turn the Iraqi Shiites and others around the world against the US. The US military is not falling for it, and neither are the Iraqi Shiites. But, the Iraqi propaganda apparatus is attempting to give the Muslim world the false idea that the US has in fact shelled the shrine. Actually, it just hit the Baath party headquarters, which had been built nearby.
*Jim Hoaglund in the Washington Post is reporting that the CIA had spread tens of millions of dollars among the Iraqi tribes in hopes of getting them to revolt against Saddam and join the Americans. CIA director George Tenet had such representations from them. But in the end, the vast majority of them seem to have just pocketed the money and stayed quiet. Anthony Shadid reports that one reason for which the Basra and other urban Shiites haven’t rebelled is that the $15 a month they were being paid by the regime to serve as spies was their main hope for an income in the 1990s and early zeroes. The UN sanctions helped drive the economy into penury, and Saddam made use of the fact to buy the population’s loyalty. Likewise, the large number of spies and Fedayee Saddam keep the population afraid of the regime. News is getting to Baghdad from Basra about who is loyal, and reprisals can be ordered. Of course, the likelihood is that most Shiites just don’t want their country invaded by a foreign power. The US troops seem to be getting an unusually warm welcome in Najaf, though.
*At a rally of tens of thousands in Quetta, Pakistan, leaders of the fundamentalist MMA coalition condemned the United States for its war in Iraq. This stance gives them street popularity and costs them nothing, since they aren’t doing anything practical. They are just holding rallies and giving angry speeches. But, their visibility on the issue could help them in the next parliamentary elections. They’ve already gone from being a perennial joke in Pakistani parliamentary politics to being a force to reckon with. Many are close in ideology to the Taliban and their growing popularity is dangerous for the US.
*Tony Blair is urging that Iraqis rule Iraq after the war. The US at the moment is committed to an open-ended American (read: Defense Department) administration of the country. Retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner will run Iraq, and Rummy wants his buddy James Woolsey in the “cabinet” of the American Government of Iraq (well, that’s the diction–we spoke of the “British Government of India). Woolsey out and out lied about supposed links between Saddam and 9/11. He has also characterized this phase of history as World War IV, a war between the US and the Muslim world. Yeah, he’d be real popular in post-war Iraq. I hope he testified to Congress about his fantasies of Saddam and 9/11, and that someday someone will nail him for perjury. The aid NGO’s are all complaining that they can’t work with the US military in helping rebuild Iraq–as a matter of principle or statute. They want reconstruction to be given to US AID, which is under the State Department. One congressional committee has already taken steps to ensure that that happens. But they will have to be bold and fast to out-maneuver Rumsfeld, who seems to fancy himself the Clive of Iraq.