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Catfish and Cod
Monday, October 27, 2003
Al-Sadr's making trouble: V.
(Link path: San Jose Mercury News/Knight Ridder)

Despite everyone's efforts to the contrary, the US occupation is trying to make life better. More food will be distrubuted during Ramadan to aid with everyone's fasting. The July 14 bridge in Baghdad is open again, and the curfew there is lifted.

Muqty, of course, wants the Americans gone ASAP. But the Iraqi people know that, for the moment at least, that would mean things would get worse, not better. Which means that Muqty's little revolution backfired:

Karbala police Lt. Col. Sabih Abdulrahim predicts a calm Ramadan here.

"The things that happened a week ago are between the tribes, tribal things, not between the people of Karbala and the coalition," he said. "Some kind of sedition happened."

He said that Sadr's and Hassani's apparent power grab misfired, and they lost, rather than gained, support.

"The people in Karbala don't like the problems," Abdulrahim said. "The people of Karbala now hate those people, especially Hassani. Religious people should be better behaved, should not have guns and be killing people. I know my duty. Religious people should know their duty, talking about God and faith, not having guns."

There are also reports that al-Sadr claimed he was raiding the mosques to initiate distribution of the donations from pilgrims to the poor. (Donations used to be administered by Saddam's Religious Affairs Ministry according to a fixed-ratio budget, but since the fall of the Ba'athists, the donations have been piling up in the mosques. The shrines of Imam Hussein and Imam Ali pull in millions of dinars every month.) Of course, it was evident to everyone that al-Sadr really wanted cash to fund his army and his insurrection.

I wanted to take a moment and relfect on how the rest of the Arab world is spinning al-Sadr's movements:

Islam-Online.net bills their analysis "Sadr Shadow Cabinet 'Positive' For Iraqis: Expert", though the expert (from the al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies) spoke in terms of Sadr's use as a foil to cause the US to make 'concessions' to the Governing Council.

al-Ahram Weekly wants to pass the Sadr/Governing Council conflict off as a 'split between returning exiles and those who weathered Saddam's tyranny at home'. Thanks, I think there's a bit more to it than that.

Lebanon's Daily Star would support him being captured and put on trial.

And Dar al-Hayat in Saudi Arabia points out that al-Sadr's entire push is based on the memory of his assassinated father, and that's not enough to gain him national provenance.

And here's a report I missed before, indicating that the al-Mukayam standoff (which lasted from Oct 13 to Oct 21) began when al-Sadr's thugs tried to subvert a coalition-funded radio station into a "holy Islamic station" (with pro-Sadr and anti-coalition commentary, no doubt). Note how al-Sadr's people don't want you to know what they're doing:

A mob of angry men near al Mukhaym mosque threatened a Knight Ridder reporter and photographer, who managed to get near the site before the city was sealed.

"Go away! There is nothing to see here!" shouted one young man, shaking a fist in the air. "We are all brothers in Islam."

Several blocks away, another man explained the hostility.

"They're all Sadr's people," said Raad Mohammed, 35. "So they don't want you to see the bad things they've done."

Not much more to say, is there?

Other episodes: I. II. III. IV. V. VI.