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Iraq: going according to plan? « Previous | |Next »
May 16, 2004

Given this report in the Washington Post, you would have to ask: did the American military know what they were doing when they decided to go after the radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr?

Earlier this year U.S. officials closed his newspaper, al-Hawza and announced a warrant for Sadr's arrest in connection with the killing of Abdel-Majid Khoei, a moderate cleric and potential rival who had returned from exile in Britain.

The report says that U.S. and British troops are now battling al-Sadr's militia forces in four southern cities, including new fighting in Amarah near the Iranian border whilst there are firefights between U.S. forces and insurgents in the east Baghdad slum. In the process Muqtada al-Sadr has become a symbol of Islamic resistance to the US occupation.

This report in the New York Times says that fighting is taking place inside Karbala and in nearby Najaf, where American tank troops fought Sadr's militia on Friday. The political consequences are high because of the presence of the shrines held sacred by Shiites. Presumably the American military is willing to take the risk, as they are starting to occupy the mosques. Juan Cole reports that US helicopter gunships blasted areas inside the graveyard in Narjf that is considered sacred ground by pious Shiites.

Do they understand the politics of their military action? They are being seen to abuse both the holy Shi'ite ground and Iraqi prisoners. Would not that make their Shiite allies recoil? And they would not have many Sunni allies left after the Falluja event. Who does that leave? The Kurds? How does this effect the Iranians?

In this political context the video of Nick Berg's decapitation can be seen as a graphic press release carefully designed for a global audience. It is a political weapon designed to turn the US people away from supporting the war. The radical Islamists are using the global media to get their message across, to spread fear and recruit members and to gain leverage. It would appear that the global media in this case are the blogs.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:37 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1)

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