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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Tuesday | April 29, 2003

More trouble brewing in Iraq

Bush's "Iraq Victory Lap 2003" continues unabated, with the latest glorious news:

The People's Mujahedeen, an Iranian terrorist organization based in Iraq, is clearly one of the baddies. While not allied with Al Qaeda, the group killed several Americans in the 70s and supported the takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979. In other words, these guys are worse than Abu Abbas -- the terrorist whose capture was mightly trumpeted by the administration.

So the group and its 10,000 fighters are in Iraq, in view of US forces. What should the US do? Eradicate them of course. They are terrorists, after all, and isn't that what we do with terrorists? Isn't that one reason we launched a war that cost $80 billion, caused hundreds of allied casualties and thousands of dead Iraqis?

But here's the rub -- the group was deemed a terrorist group by Bill Clinton, and being Clinton's terrorists is not the same as being Bush's terrorists. Got it? So, the US has signed a cease fire agreement with the group that lets them keep their weapons, vehicles and other equipment.

Meanwhile, Iraqi parallels to the Intifada are now complete, as US forces opened fire on a stone wielding crowd, killing 13.

U.S. soldiers opened fire on Iraqis at a nighttime demonstration against the American presence here after people shot at them with automatic rifles, soldiers said Tuesday. The director of the local hospital said 13 people were killed and 75 injured.

The demonstrators insisted they were unarmed. [...]

"There was fire directly over the heads of soldiers on the roof (of the school). They returned fire in order to protect the lives of our soldiers," said Lt. Col. Eric Nantz.

Dr. Ahmed Ghanim al-Ali, director of Fallujah General Hospital, said there were 13 dead, including three boys no older than 10. He said his medical crews were shot at when they went to retrieve the injured, which he said numbered 75 people.

The US can claim it fired in self-defense all it wants. It could be telling the truth. But in the eyes of the world and the Iraqi people, the battle is lost. Indeed, the repercussions from the nighttime shooting have begun:
The shooting outraged local people who, like many other Iraqis, welcomed the removal of Saddam Hussein by U.S.-led forces but now want the American troops to leave. It is likely to fuel anti-American sentiment elsewhere in Iraq.

U.S. helicopters hovered overhead as angry mourners buried the dead on Tuesday. The white walls of houses near the school were pock-marked by bullets, bullet-riddled cars stood by the roadside and traces of blood marked the ground.

"Our soul and our blood we will sacrifice to you martyrs," hundreds of mourners chanted as they carried at least four simple wooden coffins shoulder-high through the town [...]

"They are stealing our oil and they are slaughtering our people," said Shuker Abdullah Hamid, a cousin of one of the victims, 47-year-old Tuamer Abdel Hamid.

"Now, all preachers of Falluja mosques and all youths...are organizing martyr operations against the American occupiers," said a man cloaked in white, using the term often used to describe suicide attacks in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Meanwhile, the US still is unwilling to challenge the growing power of the Mullah's within Iran's increasingly powerful Shiite community. While American forces arrested Baghdad's self-declared mayor with much fanfare, they studiously avoid moving against Shiite leaders.
By arresting Mr. Zobeidi, the United States sought to send a message that it would not tolerate challenges to its authority in Iraq. But Mr. Zobeidi was the least threatening of several figures claiming authority in the country, most notably the Shiite clerics who have taken over administration of large swaths of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.

Rather than threaten the clerics with arrest, the Army has given them a wide berth, even offering picture identification tags to the armed guards of one Shiite cleric who is part of an Iran-directed religious administration in the city's largest slum.

Iraqi opponents of the US occupation are merely setting the table. We haven't even gotten to the appetizers yet.

Posted April 29, 2003 07:35 AM | Comments (187)


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