Iraq on the brink of anarchy
Tue Apr 6, 2004 17:54
Iraq on the brink of anarchy
"Things are getting very bad and they're going to get worse," a special forces
officer said close to the airport yesterday. "But no one is saying that - either
because they don't know or because they don't want you to know."
By Robert Fisk in Fallujah
06 April 2004 "The Independent" -- Not content with surrounding the largest
Sunni city west of Baghdad with tanks, armoured personnel carriers and heavy
machine guns, US forces used Apache helicopters to attack the Shia Muslim slums
of Shoula yesterday, sent dozens of their main battle tanks into the hovels of
Sadr City and then slapped an arrest warrant on the Shia cleric Muqtada Sadr -
who must dearly have wanted the United States to do just that.
Gun battles in Sadr City overnight had cost the lives of up to 40 Iraqis and at
least eight Americans, but in the sewage-damp streets yesterday, they were
handing out letters, allegedly written by the Sunni townspeople of Fallujah,
newly surrounded by 1,200 marines. "We support you, our brothers, in your
struggle," the letters said. If they are authentic, it should be enough to make
the US proconsul, Paul Bremer, wonder if he can ever extricate Washington from
Iraq. The British took three years to turn both the Sunnis and the Shias into
their enemies in 1920. The Americans are achieving it in just under a year.
Anarchy has been a condition of our occupation from the very first days when we
let the looters and arsonists destroy Iraq's infrastructure and history. But
that lawlessness is now coming back to haunt us. Anarchy is what we are now
being plunged into in Iraq, among a people with whom we share no common
language, no common religion and no common culture.
Officially, Mr Bremer and his president are standing tall, claiming they will
not "tolerate" violence and those who oppose democracy, but occupation officials
- in anticipation of a far more violent insurrection - have been privately
discussing the legalities of martial law. And although Mr Bremer and President
George Bush are publicly insisting that the notional "handover" of Iraq's
"sovereignty" will still take place on 30 June, legal experts attached to the
American-appointed Iraqi Governing Council have also been considering a delay of
further months. Many Iraqis are now asking if the Americans want disaster in
Iraq. Surely not, but yesterday's violence told its own story of blundering
military operations and political provocations that will undoubtedly add to the
support for the charmless and provocative Shia cleric whom Mr Bremer now wants
to lock up - allegedly for plotting the murder of a pro-Western Shia cleric,
Abdul-Majid el-Khoi. Sadr was surrounded by his militiamen yesterday, in a
mosque in Kufa from where he issues regular denunciations of the occupation.
Dan Senor, a spokesman for the occupying power, would not tell anyone exactly
what the evidence against Sadr was - even though it has supposedly existed since
an Iraqi judge issued the warrant some months ago.
The US military response to the atrocities committed against four American
mercenaries in Fallujah last week has been to surround the entire city and to
announce the cutting off of the neighbouring international highway link between
Baghdad, Amman and Damascus - thus bringing to a halt almost all economic trade
between Iraq and its two western neighbours.
What good this will do "new" Iraq is anyone's guess. Vast concrete walls have
been lowered across the road and military vehicles have been used to chase away
civilians trying to bypass them. A prolonged series of Israeli-style house raids
are now apparently planned for the people of Fallujah to seek out the gunmen who
first attacked the four Americans. The corpses were stripped, mutilated and
The helicopter attacks in Shoula - by ghastly coincidence the very same Shoula
suburb in which civilians were slaughtered by an American aircraft during last
year's invasion - looked like a copy of every Israeli raid on the West Bank and
Gaza. Indeed, Iraqis are well aware that the US military asked for - and
received - Israel's "rules of engagement" from Ariel Sharon's government.
America's losses over the past 48 hours - at least 12 soldiers killed and many
wounded - come nowhere near the number of Iraqi victims over the same period.
US forces in Sadr City believe they were fighting up to 500 militia men from
Sadr's black-uniformed Army of Mehdi early yesterday. Even so, using Apache
helicopters in a heavily populated district to hunt for gunmen raises new
questions about the rules to which occupation troops are supposed to adhere.
The British fared less badly in Basra, Iraq's second city, where they avoided
violence with militiamen who had taken over the town hall and wounded no one in
a brief gun battle. Spanish troops were again involved in shooting with
militiamen in Najaf. The grim truth, however, is that the occupying powers are
now facing insurrection of various strengths in almost every big city in Iraq.
Yet they are still not confronting that truth. For the past nine nights, for
example, the main US base close to Baghdad airport - and the area around the
terminals - has come under mortar fire.
But the occupying powers have kept this secret. "Things are getting very bad and
they're going to get worse," a special forces officer said close to the airport
yesterday. "But no one is saying that - either because they don't know or
because they don't want you to know."
As for Sadr, he will, no doubt, try to surround himself with squads of gunmen
and supporters in the hope that the Americans will not dare to shoot their way
in to him.
Or he will go underground and we'll have another "enemy of democracy" to
bestialise in the approach to the American elections. Or - much more serious
perhaps - his capture may unleash far more violence from his supporters.
And all this because Mr Bremer decided to ban Sadr's trashy 10,000-circulation
weekly newspaper for "inciting violence."
Copyright The Independent. UK.
338 DAYS ... AND STILL NO WMD FOUND IN IRAQ.
Iraq Clashes Kill 66 Iraqis, Seven American Soldiers :
Seven American soldiers died in separate incidents today and yesterday in the
Iraqi capital Baghdad and in the western province of Al Anbar, the U.S. military
said. As many as 66 Iraqis died in clashes in the past two days with coalition
20 GIs, 100 Iraqis Killed Since Weekend :
Coalition forces fought on two fronts Tuesday, battling a Shiite-inspired
uprising in southern Iraq and Sunni insurgents in the violent city of Fallujah
in clashes that have killed 20 American troops and at least 100 Iraqis since the
Ukrainian peacekeeper killed in Iraq, five wounded :
A Ukrainian peacekeeper was killed in Iraq during a battle for a bridge over the
Tigris, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry press service reported on Tuesday.
Clashes between Italian troops and Iraqi insurgents turn deadly in southern
Fighting has erupted between Italian troops and Iraqi gunmen in the southern
city of Nasiriyah (nah-sih-REE'-uh). A coalition spokeswoman tells Italian media
that at least 15 Iraqis were killed.
Defiant al-Sadr vows uprising will continue:
The revolt by supporters of Iraqi leader Muqtada al-Sadr will continue until
occupying troops are withdrawn from populated areas and prisoners are released.
Baghdad Sunnis, Shi'ites unite:
SUNNI and Shi'ite residents of two Baghdad suburbs, once fierce enemies, said
overnight they had put their differences aside to unite in their fight to oust
the US occupying force from Iraq.
In Baghdad district, U.S. forces no longer welcome:
Many Iraqis were filling plain wooden coffins with the corpses of their kin,
killed in a firefight with the U.S. forces that now patrol their impoverished
Shiite cleric Sadr ends sit-in, moves to holy city of Najaf:
Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr,wanted by coalition forces in Iraq, ended his
sit-in at a mosque in Kufa Tuesday and travelled to the holy city of Najaf to
prevent more bloodshed.
Radical sheikh throws down gauntlet:
The Grand Mosque of Kufa has now become the grand arsenal. Sheikh Sadr has
barricaded himself inside the golden brick walls, refusing to surrender. "If
they come for our leader, they will ignite all of Iraq."
The battle the US wants to provoke:
Bremer is deliberately pushing Iraq's Shia south into all-out chaos
Iraq Intifada: U.S. Faces New Resistance Front As Shiites Join Armed Uprising:
The U.S. is facing a nightmare scenario in Iraq, fighting on two fronts against
both Sunni and Shia militants after Shiite Iraqis staged an armed uprising
against occupying forces this past Sunday. We go to Baghdad to speak with
independent journalist and author Naomi Klein and we speak with Middle East
expert Professor As'ad AbuKhalil.
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Sadr's Men Begin Broadcasting, Fallujans Feel Squeeze:
Iraqi sources have revealed that cleric Muqtada Sadr's Mahdi army militia have
seized the television broadcast building in the central town of Kut and started
to broadcast pre-recorded messages from the young Shia now wanted by U.S.
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Non-combatants enjoy the greatest protection of any category of persons under
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A suggestion by Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, that the US might
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The American occupation of Haiti has begun again, now that Jean-Bertrand
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Several years ago, between coup d'etats and U.S. occupations of Haiti, Fidel
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Video: Oliver Stone's Comandante:
Never before seen by a U.S. audience: Comandante was banned from the New York
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activities prior to the September 11 attacks said he could
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