US Paramilitary Casualties Covered Up
Sistani condemns Attacks on Sunni Shrines, Mosques
Pakistan Rallies Condemn US
Highly paid “security guards” play an essential role in the US war against Iraqi guerrillas. They form a paramilitary, which has inevitably taken great numbers of casualties (they sometimes actually guard US troops!) Turns out that they have been taking casualties at far higher rates than the Pentagon or its private contractors have ever let on.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has signed a contract with UNESCO for the immediate rebuilding of the al-Askariya Shrine at Samarra, which was blown up again this week. The Sadr movement has suspended its participation in parliament until the shrine is rebuilt, and al-Maliki depends on those 32 votes. Muqtada al-Sadr, the young Shiite nationalist cleric, has called for a mass protest march on Samarra by Shiites. Al-Maliki is attempting to avoid the likely violence that would result if a lot of Shiites flooded into mainly Sunni Samarra, a stronghold of the Baath Party and Salafi Jihadis.
Angry Shiites bombed another Sunni mosque on Saturday morning, this time at Basra, that of al-`Asharah al-Mubashshirah. Sawt al-Iraq in Arabic says that eyewitnesses report very substantial damage to the edifice.
Shiites in Islamabad, Karachi and other Pakistani cities rallied Friday to protest the further bombing of the al-Askariya Shrine, which they alleged was a US black operation designed to set Sunnis and Shiites against one another and to partition Iraq:
“Demonstrators in Islamabad burnt flags of America, the Zionist regime and Britain and chanted slogans including “Death to America” and “Death to Zionists”. [Pakistani] Senator Abbas Kameli told the demonstrators that a conspiracy was hatched to create rift among the Shiite and Sunnis but the people of Iraq have frustrated the conspiracy. He said that attack on al-Askari shrine was aimed at dividing the people of Iraq but the country is united and will remain united. Senator Kameli said thousands of innocent people have been killed since the US-led forces have arrived in Iraq. He added that foreign forces have committed more heinous crimes than Saddam Hussain. “
If you want to know what most Muslims really think about the US presence in Iraq, that about sums it up. The longer that presence continues in its current shape, the deeper and wider the hatred of the US will be.
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani condemned Shiite attacks on Sunni mosques and holy places on Saturday, in the wake of the destruction of the shrine of Talhah b. Ubayd Allah (a companion of the Prophet and cousin of the first Sunni Caliph, Abu Bakr) near Basra and the mosque of al-`Asharah al-Mubashshirah. Talhah had fought Ali, the first Shiite Imam, at the Battle of the Camel.
In a further setback to the Bush-Blair assault on international law, the House of Lords has ruled that European Union conventions on human rights apply to Iraqi prisoners held by the British military. They must be given a right to a fair trial and representation and may not be tortured. The case arose out of the death of a prisoner who had 93 separate injuries.
Some recent US rulings, albeit in lower courts, have the same implication.
The US military in Iraq is launching a “sustained” campaign against “al-Qaeda” in Iraq. Since presumably this is what they have been doing for four years, I suppose it means they will do so now in accordance with better counter-insurgency tactics than just ‘search and destroy,’ which alienates the local population. The problem I foresee is that the guerrilla resistance to the US military presence in Sunni Arab Iraq isn’t just the Salafi Jihadis or what the US calls ‘al-Qaeda.’ There are 50 cells of all ideological stripes, including four Baath Parties. I don’t think the Iraqi Sunnis want us there (I think in polling only 8% said they did, and then to protect them from the Shiites; even the tribes fighting ‘al-Qaeda’ in al-Anbar province have no love for the al-Maliki government, for the most part).