American Troops Dodged A Bullet,
But The Najaf Shrine Did Not
By Jerri Ann Lewis
The war in Iraq has been declared "over" for months, yet the battle continues. A democratic government began in Iraq on July 28, 2004 due to the insistence of the Bush Administration and the U.S. occupation, yet gunfire and bombings have not stopped. Some Iraqi citizens remain unsatisfied with the direction the new government is going.1
However, the word 'unsatisfied' is a bit of an understatement.
Enter the Insurgents:
The standoff disturbed many Najaf citizens due to the loss of their relatives, friends, and neighbors, explosions that damaged the city, and loss of their water and electricity. To add to the threats, a group called the Martyrs Brigade has been kidnapping people that do not support Sadr's militants.4 Iraqi government officials attempted to proceed with the plans of the Bush Administration in the building of their democracy as the fighting persisted. However, after the objections of several of the conference attendees, the Iraqi Forum was postponed.5
Sistani stepped forward to propose a peace agreement to Al-Sadr. Al-Sadr agreed to all points of the plan. In return for disbanding the militia, Al-Sadr would "remain as free as any citizen in Iraq" and turn his following into a political movement. As of 2 a.m. (EDT) August 27, 2004, Najaf and the surrounding cities were proclaimed a "weapons-free" zone.9
Had the intervention of Sistani not occurred when it did, we could have seen a far different scenario. Pressed by the political motives of the Bush Administration, we could have seen a civil war resulting in more deaths, even greater oil prices, and the continual undermining of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.9 When will our government learn to let other countries work some problems out for themselves? Even with the agreement of Al-Sadr's followers to lay down their weapons in Najaf, insurgents continue to rebel and our troops continue to defend other areas within the "red zones" of Iraq.10 These interventions caused by President Bush's desire to maintain his title as "War President" in order to strengthen his election campaigns and political ties does nothing to prove he is a wonderful leader. In reality, he is sacrificing the lives of Americans for his own political gain. The sacrifice of those Americans and the pain and suffering of their loved ones left behind should be in our thoughts when we visit the polls in November.
1 "Heavy clashes in Iraq holy city as shrine handover suspended," AFP. August 22, 2004.
3 "Group Threatens U.S.-Led Troops in Iraq Over Najaf," Reuters. August 23, 2004.
4 Abdul Hussein Al-Obeidia, "Militants Hold Najaf Shrine; Bombing Heard" Associated Press. August 21, 2004.
5 Rajiv Chandrasekaran, "Protest at Iraq Forum Reshapes Najaf Crisis," Washington Post. August 16, 2004.
6 AFP. "US piles pressure on Sadr fighters with fresh air raids near revered mosque," August 23, 2004.
7 "Najaf Shrine Wall Hit by U.S. Fire-Shi'ite Cleric," Reuters. August 22, 2004.
8 Abdul Hussein Al-Obeidia, "Iraq's Top Shiite Cleric Arrives in Najaf " Associated Press. August 26, 2004.
9 Michael Gregory, "Sistani Secures Iraq Peace Deal After Bloody Day," Reuters. August 26, 2004.
10 Associated Press, "After peace in Najaf, violence rages in Baghdad slum," August 28, 2004.
- "Muqtada al-Sadr,"
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