Thousands of Sadrists Rally for Hizbullah in Baghdad
Guerrilla Uprising in Mosul
Some 100,000 Sadrists rallied against Israel’s war on Lebanon [Ar.] in Sadr City on Friday, their ranks swelled by an influx of demonstrators from Maysan and Wasit provinces. Al-Zaman notes that this demonstration comes two days after a similar big event for the same purpose held by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. They also noticed a significant phalanx of women demonstrators, which Western reporters seem to have missed. The estimate of 100,000 comes from the LA Times, and strikes me as plausible. The US military attempted to play down the numbers, but frankly I don’t trust them on something like this, which has ideological implications.
Al-Hayat [Ar.] says that despite the enormous size of the crowd, there were no untoward incidents. (The Mahdi Army checked the demonstrators carefully as they came into Sadr City, and the Ministry of the Interior, which gave a permit for the rally, also provided security). On leaving, however, some demonstrators were fired upon as they passed through the volatile Dura district of the capital. Two days ago during the SCIRI rally, al-Hayat says, Sunni guerrillas killed 3 of them. US troops intervened toward the end and were responsible for the deaths of two demonstrators.
This time, US troops set up a security perimeter around Sadr City, using tanks and armored vehicles. Demonstrators raised both Lebanese and Iraqi flags and chanted against Israel and in favor of Hizbullah. Some wore white funeral clothing, announcing their willingness to risk martyrdom. They burned US and Israeli flags.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat says that [Ar.] they chanted, “Death to America, Death to Israel!” They carried large posters with images on them of Sheikh Hasan Nasrullah, the leader of the Hizbullah, and Muqtada al-Sadr. Young demonstrators chanted, “We are the troops that Nasrullah is calling for, and we shall burn Haifa!”
Shaikh Hazim al-Ariji, of the Sadr movement, delivered a sermon in which he blamed Israel and in which he announced his solidarity with Hizbullah, which he compared to the Iraqi Mahdi Army. Hizbullah had thrown a fright into the Israelis because they clearly are not afraid of death, he said.
Some 33 persons died or were announced dead in Iraq’s civil war violence. A tribal chieftain in Basra was assassinated.
In Mosul, from which the US withdrew most of the 3500 troops that it just sent to Baghdad, local guerrillas staged a virtual uprising against local Iraqi police and soldiers. The US military appears to be playing musical chairs, attempting to pacify Baghdad by bring troops there, but then losing control of the security situation in Mosul!
There were big demonstrations Friday in Cairo, Amman and Pakistan against the Israeli war on Lebanon.
George W. Bush had to be briefed that there are two major branches of Islam before the Iraq War. He did not know what Shiism was. He said, “I thought the Iraqis were Muslims.”