World’s Stupidest Guerrillas Kill over 70 Shiite Pilgrims in Iraq

Guerrillas in Iraq staged a serious of bloody bombings targeting Shiites on Thursday. Shiite Muslims are on the move, meeting and going on pilgrimage to commemorate the 40th day after the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. He was struck down by imperial Umayyad armies in 680 at what is now Karbala, where his tomb is a site of pilgrimage. Pilgrims in the south at Nasiriyah who were setting out to Karbala were hit, and nearly 40 were killed. There were also bombings of Shiites in Baghdad.

Such attacks have been going on since 2004.I wrote an op-ed for The Guardian about horrific attacks in spring of 2004 for that killed 200 Shiite pilgrims. There were likely 140,000 US troops in Iraq then, and security was completely in American hands. The way the US press wrings its hands about whether Iraq can make it on its own, in the face of these acts of sectarian violence, ignores the inability of the American troops to stop that violence when they were in the country. In fact, civilian casualties are down substantially under Iraqi rule over what they were when the US was in charge.

Now, as then, the Sunni Arab guerrillas are attempting to provoke Sunni-Shiite violence and turmoil, in hopes that order will break down and they will prove able to provoke a coup. They must be about the stupidest people on earth, since their crackpot plan has had zero success, and yet they keep at it.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has met with his security officials and impressed on them the necessity of prevailing against the threat of terrorism. Al-Maliki typically describes such attacks as the work of pro-Saddam forces and of Sunni fundamentalists.

The dismaying thing about the Sunni guerrilla attacks is that the theory behind them has been proven false over and over again. They have kept Iraq from entirely stabilizing and perhaps they deter foreign investment. But there aren’t so many mixed neighborhoods where Sunni and Shiite could conveniently fight, and the Sunnis were decisively defeated in 2006-2007. You couldn’t even have the kind of civil war again. So, the Sunni guerrillas are just being stupid. They are haunting the new Shiite-dominated order, but cannot hope to overturn it, especially in this mindless and brutal way.

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13 Responses

  1. I think this is all a matter of speculation. How do we know this was Baathists, and not anti-Shiite Salafis?

    I agree with you that it’s warped thinking that leads to such terrorism, but I dontthink most believe they can topple the regime. It’s likely their belief in revenge for being marginalized and in response to Maliki’s attempt to arrest Sunni leaders. However, they haven’t caught the perpetrators so this is all guesswork.

    • For that matter, how do we know this was Iraqis, as opposed to al Qaeda?

      It was the international jihadists who started the terrorist provocations in 2004, and the provocation of a Shiite backlash against Iraq’s Sunnis, while nonsensical for Iraqi Sunnis, makes sense for foreign jihadists.

  2. No, the world’s stupidest guerrillas were the Provisional IRA, who spent about 15 years blowing stuff up during a period when you could otherwise probably have assembled a majority of the British mainland electorate in favour of withdrawing from N.Ireland on the basis that a. it was an economic sink and b. the “Unionist” leadership were a bunch of fascist know-nothings that nobody wanted to be associated with. Then they stopped blowing stuff up, and now they’re in the government. Good game, PIRA!

  3. I’m always leery of calling people stupid, and mind reading is a dangerous business.

    “Now, as then, the Sunni Arab guerrillas are attempting to provoke Sunni-Shiite violence and turmoil, in hopes that order will break down and they will prove able to provoke a coup. They must be about the stupidest people on earth, since their crackpot plan has had zero success, and yet they keep at it.”

    Have they announced this goal publicly or, perhaps, whispered it in your ear? Perhaps this violence is the mere ventilation of pent up frustration and has no actual goal other than creating some dead Shiite pilgrims, in which case it has already succeeded.

    Our Civil War was followed by a lengthy period of people engaging in gratutious violence, even knowing that the invading Army of Northern Agression had won and that victory was no longer possible. (Said, I assure you, with tongue firmly in cheek.) They were just angry and were taking out their anger on the nearest target by killing “carpetbaggers.” They were probably not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier, but they weren’t stupid and they were not trying to restart the war. They were just seriously angry and wanted to “get in a lick” at those who they perceived had wronged them.

    Might not Arabs be somewhat like us?

  4. It is true that these tactics cannot overturn the Shiite-dominated government. However, there is a fairly serious — and growing — movement to create a Sunni Arab autonomous region. (Maliki has been cracking down on federalists, even people who are entirely peaceful.) Some form of secession, beginning perhaps as simple defiance of government authority, is far more plausible than a Sunni Arab coup regaining power over all of Arab Iraq. I agree these terror attacks don’t advance that cause either, but it is a prospect worth thinking about.

  5. Are these the same people also trying to destabilize Syria and Pakistan through sectarian bombings? Salafists have an even lower regard for Alawites and Ahmadis than Shiites.

  6. So, there’s an ethno-religious group in Iraq that formerly had power in the country that was disproportionate to that group’s actual share of the population, and now that their power has slipped away in a more democratic political system, they would rather “blow things up” instead of being patriotic and working within the system to rebuild and strengthen their nation, no matter how pointless and self-destructive their actions are?

    Good thing that conservative, white Protestants in the US aren’t behaving that way in Congress…

      • Destroying all American unions, child labor laws, minimum wage laws, pollution laws, and Federal legal authority (all announced goals of major GOP leaders) to return this country to the paradise of 1859 sounds hyperbolic, and yet that’s what they’ve sworn to do. Did you know 1/5 of all state legislators, and many congressmen, are members of ALEC, a “pro-business” lobbying group that literally wrote both the Arizona 1070 legislation and legislation expanding the use of prison slave labor?

        Create a workforce at Chinese wage levels, destroy all liberal institutions that could resist, then hire the gun nuts to be the enforcers. Squeeze the country dry of its last few drops of blood before departing for sunnier climes. Not hyperbolic, just utterly ruthless and soulless.

  7. It’s “warped thinking” that a blundering, clotted, bloated, “doctrine-” driven War Machine nominally headquartered in the Pentagram can ever manage to “fight and win” an invasion on behalf of the Racketeers that Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler so accurately called out.

    And now Our Troops have mostly completed their “strategic rearward advance to previously prepared positions,” the euphemism for “retreat” back when I was in the service — late ’60s — with respect to Iraq, in manifest recognition of the bankruptcy of all that “policy” and the near bankruptcy of the economy off of which the MIC lives as a tenacious and growing parasite, or maybe more simply a metastatic and untreatable cancer.

    but it’s ok, the Pentagrammers are really good at fighting vicious asymmetric battles in the Procurement Wars now in full swing in the five Rings of Power and the Hallowed Halls of Congress and the fetid bowels of K Street. Even if they have not a clue about how to Achieve Victory, whatever the hell that is supposed to mean, in any of our Wars of Choice.

    And enough of us Americans are so dull and uninterested as to not notice that that vaunted Shock&Awe thing has petered out into yet another “declare victory and go home” entry in the Foolish Hall of Fame.

    Can anyone here enunciate any relatively brief statement of the nominal and fundamental “national-interest-based policy” that drives all this foolishness? Maybe just “the oil must flow,” and “If ‘we’ build all possible weapon systems, maybe some rational rationale for all of this will magically appear”?

  8. The problem is that the US has turned a blind eye on these crazy, heartless, brainless Salfis who are funded, nurtured and supported by Saudi Arabia, the heaven of Dictators , and US does all this for the sake of oil, for the dominance in Mideast and foremost for the sake of animosity with Iran.
    Today’s blast in Syria was done by a same person, those who kill Syrian police and soldiers are the same people, the same rotten ideology that works hand in hand with US agenda…

  9. Hey! JTMcPhee, Imagine my reply to all the questions in your last paragraph, sung (yes sung) at the top register of a powerful soprano voice…. We KNOW you are kidding and we HOPE you are running for President. rmdw

  10. Many if not most successful revolutions have a long history of lack of “success”, that is instant regime change after a few attacks. I believe the communists in China, for example, existed for a long time before finally taking over the country. The revolt in Afghanistan against the Soviet-installed government was not instantly successful. In the particular case of Iraq, the Sunni insurgents may think that their chances of success have improved as Americans leave (and payments to Sunni leaders ceased). They may also think that the general level of dissatisfaction among Sunnis has increased because of government actions.

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