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Catfish and Cod
Sunday, October 19, 2003
 
Al-Sadr's making trouble.
(Link path: BuzzMachine, Healing Iraq)

UPDATE: Welcome to visitors from Healing Iraq! We're glad you're here. This story continues in further postings above: II. III.
IV. V. VI.

First, announcing a new Iraqi blog, discovered by Jeff Jarvis. I've talked about the importance of reading Iraqi blogs before. This one looks to be the best yet.

Zayed (for that is the new blogger's name) is concerned about Muqtada al-Sadr, Iran's intended puppet dictator, and the support he gets in Sadr City. (Nice how that works out, isn't it?) He points out that Sadr City is a problem, and one reason we haven't crushed Sadr: we don't want a Shi'ite revolt on our hands.

What is troubling us is that Al-Sadr regards himself as a 'legitimate' leader of the Iraqi people. He keeps blabbering daily that he is more legitimate than the Governing Council, and that the Americans should leave Iraq immediately so he can have his way. He announced a few days ago a 'shadow government' without disclosing its members names, with himself as head of it. He said that the government would include ministries that were not included in the Governing Council's cabinet such as Defence, Information, and Religous Affairs ministries.


In other words, al-Sadr is making a move for power. Since al-Sadr takes orders from Iran, it is clear that Iran is making a move to destabilize Iraq, evict the Americans, raise the Shi'ites in revolt, and install a puppet dictator in Iraq.

Now, troops are now being posted at the entrances to Sadr City, and surrounding Sayyid Mahmoud al-Hassani's house in Karbala. Other members of al-Sadr's "Mahdi Army" have been holed up in al-Mukhaiyam mosque for days by the Iraqi police (with American advice, but not active participation). Al-Sadr himself has desisted from actually establishing his 'government' due to "lack of demonstrations of public support". It appears therefore that, even by al-Sadr's own admission, he has little support for an insurrection against American occupation. This puts the lie to Riverbend's fears to the contrary.

Since the media's stories are rather confused, the sequence of events should be made clear.

THE PLAYERS:

For the Governing Council:

Hoshyar Zebari, foreign minister.

Sheik Saed Hussain al Shiami, religious affairs minister.

For the Najaf Hawza, the supreme Iraqi Shi'ite religious authority in Najaf:

Grand Ayatollah Ali Taki al-Sistani, leader (Najaf)

For the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the mainstream Shi'ite religious party:

Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, leader (Najaf)

Abdel-Mahdi Salami, deputy (Karbala)

Sheik Mohammed Abu Jaafar al-Assadi, negotiator (Karbala)

Adel Abdul Mahdi, Governing Council representative (Baghdad)

For the Imam al-Mahdi Army, the al-Sadr faction:

Muqtada al-Sadr, leader (Kufa, outside Najaf)

Abbas al-Robai, senior aide (Baghdad?)

Sheik Mahmoud al-Hassani, deputy (Karbala)

Sheikh Abu Zahrar, spokesman (Karbala)

Sheik Moayed Khazraji, deputy (southwest Baghdad)

Sheik Qais al-Khazali, deputy (Sadr City, Baghdad)

BAGHDAD, 10 pm, Sep 29: An Iraqi policeman on patrol, backed up by US forces, enters the Sadr-loyal Ali Bayaa mosque, Sadr City, to arrest a man with a rifle. The Iraqi policeman knocks off the turban of a cleric, causing insult.

BAGHDAD, Sep 30: The Iraqi policeman attempts to apologize for the inadvertent insult and is rebuffed.

BAGHDAD, Oct 2: Sheik Moayed Khazraji, the imam of Ali Bayaa mosque, demands the policeman for an Islamic court trial on pain of bloodshed. Protests are made over the arrest attempt on Sep 29, causing stones to be thrown.

BAGHDAD, Oct 3: Khazraji, in his Friday sermon, condemns alcohol merchants. Within hours, four local alcohol merchants are murdered.

BAGHDAD, Oct 5: In an ambush, Khazraji is arrested by Iraqi police and US forces. He is held at the maximum-security Abu Gharib prison and charged with multiple counts of "communicating a threat", murder (of the alcohol merchants), kidnapping, and conspiracy to harbor terrorists.

BAGHDAD, Oct ?: A protest is organized to protest Khazraji's imprisonment outside Ali Bayaa mosque. 12 Americans are wounded by a grenade thrown from the crowd.

SADR CITY, BAGHDAD, Oct 7: al-Sadr forces oust the local council of Sadr City and establish themselves as a new, Sadr-loyal local council. Reconstruction efforts cease, as do all cooperative efforts with the Governing Council.

BAGHDAD, Oct 8: Approximately 1,000 Sadr-loyal forces demonstrate for a cleric's release. He was arrested by Iraqi police after weapons and ammo were discovered in his mosque.

SADR CITY, BAGHDAD, Oct 9: A suicide bomber attacks a police station in Sadr City. Nine Iraqis (three policemen, six civilians) are killed and 27 are injured.

SADR CITY, BAGHDAD, Oct 9: American forces claim an ambush by unspecified enemy forces (Sadr's, but the US refuses to admit it) causes 2 American deaths and four American injuries. Mahdi forces claim the Americans provoked the fight by searching their headquarters.

NAJAF, Oct 10: At Friday prayers in the mosque at Kufa, al-Sadr declared his own government in Iraq. The announcement is carried live on al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya.

KARBALA, Oct 10: In response to al-Sadr's call, Mahdi representatives attempt to take control of Karbala. According to Salami, Madhi forces kidnap Maisam al-Karbalai, a representative of the Karbala city council, after he impounds an al-Mahdi bus on suspicion of theft. Negotiations for al-Karbalai's release are undertaken by Sheik Mohammed Abu Jaafar al-Assadi.

SADR CITY, BAGHDAD, Oct 10: Sheikh Abdel-Hadi al-Daraji delivers the sermon in Sadr City, calling for Americans to stay out of Sadr City.

KARBALA, Oct 11: Two Iraqis are wounded in a grenade attack outside the city.

BAGHDAD, Oct 11: The Baghdad Ciy Council and the Iraqi Governing Council condemn Sadr's announcement. Iyad Allawi stated that he didn't think Sadr was serious, and SCIRI representative Adel Abdul Mahdi made it clear that SCIRI supported the Governing Council.

BAGHDAD, morning, Oct 12: Two car bombs, one at the Baghdad hotel, one at a Baghdad roadside, are detonated in an attempt to assassinate two members of the Governing Council government -- Council member Moffowak al Rubaie and religious affairs minister Sheik Saed Hussain al Shiami. Both escape with only minor wounds, although six other Iraqis are killed and 36 wounded. Coalition officials blame al-Sadr for the attacks.

KARBALA, evening, Oct 13: Talks break down over al-Karbalai's release. Al-Sadr forces are said to attempt a takeover of the Imam Hussein shrine. A "peaceful" protest prompts gunfire from the Sadr-loyal mosque; protesters return fire. (One suspects that trouble was anticipated.)

KARBALA, midnight local time, Oct 14: Sheik al-Assadi wins the release of al-Karbalai.

KARBALA, 9 AM, Oct 14: Iraqi police bring fighting at the Sadr-loyal mosque to an end. Between one and ten people are killed, over twenty wounded. Sadr forces remain trapped in al-Mukhaiyam mosque. Eight people are taken hostage.

NAJAF, Oct 14: Al-Sadr claims that no incident occurred in Karbala. He also announces, "Any Shiite who cooperates with occupation forces is not a Shiite." However, to prevent being personally attacked by American forces, he insists that his "revolution" be peaceful, and calls for mass demonstration in support of his government to this end.

KARBALA, evening, Oct 14: A significant Iraqi police presence is noted near the Imam Hussein mosque, urging peace and quiet. A nighttime curfew is established.

BAGHDAD, Oct 15: Sheikh Abbas, a Sadr-loyal official in Sadr City, claims a deal that the Americans will not enter Sadr City.

NAJAF, Oct 15: al-Sadr blames recent clashes on "a band of ignorant people who are lackeys of the West and occupation," in other words, Sistani's group and the Iraqi police.

KARBALA, Oct 16: The situation at al-Mukhaiyam is resolved; the hostages are released.

SADR CITY, BAGHDAD, Oct 16: US forces oust the Sadr-loyal local council and arrest 12 members. The original local council is restored. An American military presence remains to ensure the Sistani-loyal council's position at the local council's office. Captain Basim Mahmoud, police spokesman, say they will be released if Sadr imams admit their takeover was improper. He adds that Sadr's forces may police Sadr City, but must first attend the police academy.

BAGHDAD, Oct 16: Abbas al-Robai, aide to al-Sadr, warns against any attempt to arrest al-Sadr, but states that granting more power to the Governing Council and expanding its representation might cause al-Sadr to back down. Al-Robai claims that al-Sadr's goal is an Islamic democracy, not an Islamic theocracy. He also expresses regret for the violence, saying it was a mistake and that it cost al-Sadr support.

KARBALA, midday, Oct 16: Rallies and couter-rallies by Sadr- and Sistani-loyal forces at the Imam Hussein mosque. Discussions are heated but peaceful.

KARBALA, evening, Oct 16: A report of a curfew violation causes US forces to find Mahdi gunmen violating curfew outside the home of Sheik Mahmoud al-Hassani. According to an accompanying Iraqi policeman, US forces order the men inside; the gunmen open fire instead. Three US soldiers are killed and seven injured; two Iraqi policemen are killed. Mahdi losses are eight killed and eighteen wounded. Reports suggest that two of the US deaths are due to an ambush by Sadr-loyal forces at 11:30 PM (i.e., several hours after the incident at al-Hassani's home) near al-Abbas mosque.

KARBALA, Oct 17: Sporadic fire between Sadr, Sistani, US, and Poilsh forces continues into the morning hours.

NAJAF, Oct 17: At Friday prayers, al-Sadr decides to try his revolutionary government again, declaring that he will seek UN recognition. However, in the same speech, he declares that he will relinquish his claims to governance if Bremer's veto power over the Governing Council is revoked and if more parties are admitted to the council.

SADR CITY, BAGHDAD, Oct 17: Anti-occupation rallies by Sadr-loyal Shi'ites, estimated at 6,000.
DAURA, BAGHDAD, Oct 17: Anti-occupation rallies by Sadr-loyal Shi'ites.
BASRA, Oct 17: Anti-occupation rallies by Sadr-loyal Shi'ites.

BAGHDAD, Oct 17: Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari states that Mahdi will be disarmed by force if necessary.

KARBALA, Oct 18: Sheik Abdul Mahdi, Sistani-loyal administrator at Imam Hussein mosque, advises against arresting al-Hassani, saying it will only give him more supporters. He claims Hassani has left Karbala. Mahdi supports a Polish ring of checkpoints designed to stem the arms trade into the city but advises against the 9 pm curfew, calling it onerous.

(Please don't ask me to source all this; it's from about fifty sources on Google News.)

Of course, support for al-Sadr could rise drastically if we directly kill a large number of Shi'ites, especially civilians. I hope and pray tonight (Boston time) that our men and women in Iraq make the correct decisions and avoid the incident that our enemies are hoping we will cause.