August 23, 2004
The Noose tightens
Posted by McQ
Meanwhile, in Najaf, US troops have tightened the noose around the Imam Ali Shrine where Michael Moore's Iraqi brother, Muqtada al-Sadr continues to hide or maybe not:
Al-Sadr has not been seen in public for many days, and police drove around Najaf with loudspeakers declaring that he had fled and was headed to the northern city of Sulaymaniyah. Al-Sadr's aides denied that.
"Muqtada al-Sadr is still in Najaf and is still supervising the operations," Sheik Aws al-Khafaji, the head of al-Sadr's office in the southern city of Nasiriyah, told the pan-Arab television station Al-Jazeera.
As for his militia:
With the U.S. advance Monday, fewer militant fighters were visible in the streets of Najaf and some were seen leaving the city. Militant medical officials said at least two insurgents were killed and four others injured.
I'm still not clear as to al-Sadar's goal in all of this. Its been reported that his support, which peaked in April, has steadily declined. And with it apparent, at least at the moment, that the US isn't going to back off getting him out of the shrine and his militia out of Najaf, I'm not sure he knows how to end this without looking pretty bad ... being "humiliated", which apparently is much worse than being dead to some Arabs.
So the face-saving effort is as follows:
Al-Sadr's aides said Friday they would turn over the shrine to Shiite religious authorities, but the militants had still not withdrawn by Monday amid squabbling with the religious leaders over the details of the pullout.
Great. While eveyone tries to be careful about not harming the shrine, al-Sadar continues to hold the whole process hostage.
Which brings us to the interim government:
The crisis has posed a severe challenge to the interim government of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, who has tried to take a hard-line toward insurgents causing chaos throughout the country.
Government officials have sent mixed messages in recent days, first threatening to raid the shrine — which would infuriate the nation's Shiite majority — then backing down and saying they were willing to wait for a peaceful solution.
Interior Minister Falah Hassan al-Naqib said the government would not wait indefinitely.
"Certainly there's a limit, and I think the period has started to narrow," he told Al-Arabiya television Monday. "It could be days or it could be hours. Such decisions are taken at the time, depending on the developments."
Well it could be days only if you patronize this idiot. Its time to pound on the table and set a deadline. Its time to act like a government which has the best interest of its citizens and country at heart. Its time to stop letting some nut hold the country hostage. Its time to grow a pair and do something.
Meanwhile neighboring countries are beginning to worry a bit:
Worries over the fallout from the violence have fueled calls for international action. Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari, in talks with his Jordanian counterpart Monday, warned that instability in Iraq "is about to backfire on neighboring countries" and called for Arabs and Iraq's neighbors to "help it get out of its current ordeal."
Iran has called for an urgent meeting of Muslim nations to deal with Iraq. Iranian President Mohammad Khatami (news - web sites) repeated denials of claims by some Iraqi officials that his country supports al-Sadr.
"We have never taken sides in favor or against any group or faction in Iraq," Khatami told reporters when asked if Iran was supporting al-Sadr, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Yeah right Iran ... and you never had any plans of breaking your word with Britian, France and Germany about restarting your nuclear program again, did you? I'm sure your denial will sooth a lot of worry about your not taking sides in Iraq.