Storm clouds over Baghdad Part 2
More on the situation in Baghdad from Iraq the Model. The highlights are given verbatim below.
... extended curfews 8pm-6am ...Sistani ... calling for restraint ... but ... some Shia factions are not listening to him ... ... Islamic Party and Muslim Scholars claim more than 120 mosques have been blown up, set ablaze or came under small arms and RPG fire ... the central morgue in Baghdad received some 80 bodies ...
In our neighborhood the Sadr militias seized the local mosque ... the sense in the streets and the statements given by some Shia clerics suggest that retaliation attacks are organized and under control and are focusing on mosques frequented by Salafi and Wahabi groups and not those of ordinary Sunnis. ... Looking at the geographic distribution of the attacked mosques, I found they were mostly in areas adjacent to Sadr city forming a line that extends from the New Baghdad district in the southeast to al-Hussayniya in the northeast ... The Association of Muslim Scholars is accusing the Sadrists in particular ...
... Sunni political leaders ... refused to join the meeting saying the government has to condemn attacks on their mosques as well before they consider ending the boycott. Talabani responded positively ... and condemned all attacks on worshipping places of all kinds....
Baghdad looks more alive today but in a very cautious way, traffic in the streets is heavier than it was yesterday ... the good thing is that the Sunni have not returned the attacks and I hope the Shia have satisfied their vengeance by now...
Bill Roggio has a piece up called Looking for Signs of Civil War in Iraq, in which he lays out indicators to watch for if a full blown civil war is under way. Some of them are:
• The Shiite United Iraqi Alliance no longer seeks to form a unity government
• Sunni political parties withdraw from the political process.
• Grand Ayatollah Sistani ceases calls for calm, no longer takes a lead role in brokering peace.
• Muqtada al-Sadr becomes a leading voice in Shiite politics.
• Major political figures - Shiite and Sunni - openly call for retaliation.
• The Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party and Muslim Scholars Association openly call for the formation of Sunni militias.
• Iraqi Security Forces begins severing ties with the Coalition, make no effort to quell violence or provide security in Sunni neighborhoods and actively participate in attacks on Sunnis
• Shiite militias are fully mobilized, with the assistance of the government, and deployed to strike at Sunni targets.
• Sunni military officers are dismissed en masse from the Iraqi Army.
• Kurdish officers and soldiers leave their posts and return to Kurdistan, and reform into Peshmerga units.
• Attacks against other religious shrines escalate, and none of the parties make any pretense about caring.
• Coalition military forces pull back from forward positions to main regional bases.
Zeyad from Healing Iraq has more on the situation following the attack on the Golden Mosque.
Eyewitnesses and relatives from Samarra claim that American and Iraqi Interior ministry forces blocked the main street leading to the shrine at 9 pm on the night preceding the blast. It was opened again at dawn Wednesday and the troops pulled out of the area. The two blasts occurred at 6:40 and 6:45 am according to residents, while the official statement from Interior minister, Baqir Solagh has them around 7:50 and 8 am. The details on the operation are also very vague. Some sources say there was a force of 35 guards in the shrine, but there were only 4 or 5 that morning. The number of attackers has fluctuated between 4 and 15 armed men, one of them dressed in military uniform and the rest in black. PM Ja’fari mentioned yesterday that preliminary investigations pointed to ‘infiltration’ of the police, but he has not given any further details since. No word on the 10 suspects that were supposed to have been arrested yesterday either.
Another eyewitness from Samarra, who wrote to the Iraqi Rabita website, claims that 2 Iranians were arrested yesterday, and that the Al-Arabiya channel crew had filmed them. The Iranians were released when Solagh arrived at the scene. The Al-Arabiya crew was near Al-Dor, north of Samarra, surrounded by a crowd of locals, when a vehicle stopped and someone shouted: “We want the anchor,” and fired a couple of shots in the air to disperse the crowd. The Al-Arabiya anchor, Atwaar Bahjat (a very well known Iraqi journalist originally from Samarra), screamed for help but the team took her and the two cameramen. Their bullet-ridden corpses appeared this morning at the outskirts of Samarra; their footage tapes were confiscated. ...
What kind of nation are we? What kind of nation kills its intellectuals and academics, its doctors and healers, its women and children, its clerics and preachers? What kind of nation blows up churches and mosques, hotels and schools, funerals and weddings? We have left nothing sacred. Yet we have the insolence to accuse others of offending us, of vilifying us. I announce today that we have proved ourselves worthy of that vilification. Ten years ago, I denounced religion and disavowed Islam. I do not want to be forced to disavow my country and nation today, but with every new day, I’m afraid I am getting closer to it.
From the Big Pharaoh in Egypt:
Egyptian born Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi blamed the US and Israel for.............the bombing of the Shia shrine in Iraq.
"We cannot imagine that the Iraqi Sunnis did this," said the influential Sunni cleric Sheik Youssef al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian who lives in Qatar. "No one benefits from such acts other than the U.S. occupation and the lurking Zionist enemy."
Qaradawi, who lives in a mansion not very far from the US military base in Qatar, is a perfect example of how some US allies such as Qatar want it both ways. The presence of US bases on their soil and excellent relations with washington, and the presence of radical crazy clerics and TV stations that appease the fundamentalists.
Saudi Arabia is another similar case. Saudi rulers want good relations with the US yet in the same time their money goes into funding one of the worst brands of religion in the world.
Unfortunately, the US can't do anything about both cases. It needs oil from Saudi and military bases from Qatar.
If the reader tries to match up the situation described by Iraq the Model against the checklist provided by the Fourth Rail it is only fair to conclude, I think, that while the situation threatens to slide into civil war it's not there yet.
If Bill Roggio was right in thinking that the al-Qaeda are behind this attack in order to provoke civil war (see previous post), they have really started on this new tactic a year and half too late. They wasted their time trying to defeat the US Armed Forces and that didn't work so well. Unfortunately the time they wasted has also provided the time for the Coalition Forces to train up hundreds of Iraqi battalions, establish a shaky but nevertheless functional national leadership core (as events are proving) and weakened Sadr. In war as in other things, timing is important.
The prospective warring parties also need a source of weapons and ammunition to really go at it. Wars need logistics and civil wars are no exception. In an ironic way, the cache-busting activities conducted by Coalition forces against insurgents, plus the campaign to seal the borders (with Syria at least) and the river lines has mowed a lot of the dry grass off the prairie. For example, just three days ago Captain Pool of the Marine sent Press Release 6-031:
CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq –– More than 3,000 pieces of various types of munitions were discovered yesterday by U.S. Army soldiers conducting a reconnaissance patrol near Al Quratiyah, approximately 350 km northwest of Baghdad. This cache is among the largest discovered to date in western Al Anbar province. ... The cache of munitions ranged from 60 to 125 mm mortars and included various other projectile-type munitions ... This latest cache is the 118th found by soldiers from 4th Squadron, 14th U.S. Cavalry Regiment. In a similar find last October, soldiers here discovered about 1,000 122 mm artillery rounds, 40,000 armor piercing bullets, 1,000 .50 caliber rounds, detonation cord and various bomb-making materials.
The reason the caches existed in the first place is because those who planned on using them knew they would they would need them. Civil wars and insurgencies cannot fight on thin air and green grass. However, considering the rumors reported by the updates tinfoil hats are not in short supply.