Fadilah Calls for Defeat of Constitution
Ayatollah Muhammad Ya`qubi, the leader in Najaf of the Fadilah (Virtue) Party–which has a big political and social base in the southern port city of Basra–has called on his followers to reject the new constitution because it does not go far enough toward consecrating Islamic law as the law of the land. The Fadilah Party is a branch of the Sadr Movement, founded by Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr (d. 1999), which is known for its puritanism and zealotry. Ya`qubi is a rival of Muqtada al-Sadr, the son of the slain Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, who leads a much bigger branch of the Sadr movement.
Fadilah did well in the Jan. 30 elections in Basra, and at one point, at least, had put together a coalition that gave it 21 seats on the 41-seat provincial council. The Telegraph seems to say that Fadilah was subsequently outmaneuvered and that Ya`qubi has been somewhat marginalized. (His main rival in the city is the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and its paramilitary, the Badr Corps). Ya`qubi has a serious and somewhat bitter rivalry with Sistani and the Telegraph is mistaken to suggest that Sistani might talk him out of his opposition.
The British appear to be viewing Ya`qubi’s opposition to the constitution, along with the recent crisis over the captured British military spies, as a sign that Basra could turn into another Fallujah and become a hotbed of anti-Coalition activities. I’m not sure when exactly the Anglo-American forces are going to realize this, but the entirety of Iraq outside Kurdistan is already more or less a “Fallujah” in the sense that they hate us and organize local militias and at most some proportion are putting up with foreign forces only out of Machiavellian calculation. Where any major political grouping finds the Coalition inconvenient, it would turn on them in a split second.
Nancy Youssef and Mohammed al Dulaimy of Knight Ridder report that
‘ The ethnic cleansing of Baghdad neighborhoods is proceeding at an alarming and potentially destabilizing pace.
Some Shiite Muslim residents in predominantly Sunni Muslim Baghdad neighborhoods are fleeing their homes because they say the country’s violence and sectarian tensions have reached their front doors, forcing them to move into more homogenous communities.
Government officials and academic experts agree that the virtual expulsion of some ethnic groups from mixed communities is troubling and threatens the nation’s stability, which depends on a degree of ethnic harmony. Some worry the purges are setting the early stages of civil war, saying that homogenous neighborhoods could become future battlegrounds in the capital.
Indeed, some government officials concede that insurgents, mainly Sunnis, are controlling parts of Baghdad.
“Civil war today is closer than any time before,” said Hazim Abdel Hamid al Nuaimi, a professor of politics at al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. “All of these explosions, the efforts by police and purging of neighborhoods is a battle to control Baghdad.” ‘
The article, among the few in the mainstream press to recognize how bad things are in Baghdad, confirms the report I received from Baghdad last weekend about Sunni Arab guerrillas taking over entire districts of the capital.
Only between 4 and 10 percent of the fighters in Iraq are foreigners, and they are mostly Algerians, Syrians, Yemenis and Sudanese, not Saudis.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair is shocked at the level of “fanaticism” in Iraq, which he did not expect, says Geoffrey Hoon. In the old days of the British Empire, the “fanaticism” in “natives” meant that they objected to being invaded and ruled by the British.