Najaf Crisis and International Implications
Iran: US Will Pay a ‘Heavy Price’
Iran warned the American government that it would “pay a heavy price” if its forces attacked the cities of Najaf and Karbala. Ayatollah Muhammad Taskhiri, the representative of Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei, told al-Hayat, “The American forces will have committed the biggest act of stupidity in their entire lives if they took this vile step.”
In Riyadh, Abdul Rahman al-Atiyah, the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, blamed the occupation authorities for the current events, including the deterioration of the security situation. He called on the Coalition forces to cooperate with all political forces in Iraq in seeking an end to the downward spiral. He said it was unlikely that any Gulf countries would provide peacekeeping troops in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the British military is extremely concerned about the possibility of a general Shiite uprising in Basra, according to the Telegraph:
‘ the commander of British troops in southern Iraq, Brig Nick Carter, admitted that he would be powerless to prevent the overthrow of Coalition forces if the Shia majority in Basra rose up in rebellion. Brig Carter, of the 20 Armoured Brigade, who has been in Iraq for four months, said British forces would stay in Basra with the consent of local Shia leaders, or not at all. Last month, 14 British soldiers were injured in Basra, at least three seriously, when they came under attack from demonstrators armed with petrol bombs, rocks and a grenade. “A crowd of 150,000 people at the gates of this barracks would be the end of this, as far as I’m concerned,” Brig Carter said. “There would be absolutely nothing I could do about that . . .” During an interview in Basra last week Brig Carter acknowledged that the Coalition’s presence in southern Iraq was entirely dependent on the goodwill of the local Shia Muslim leader, Sayid Ali al-Safi al-Musawi. He represents Ayatollah Sistani, Iraq’s leading Shia cleric. “The moment that Sayid Ali says, ‘We don’t want the Coalition here’, we might as well go home,” Brig Carter said. ‘