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If you REALLY want to know what is happening in Iraq...

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posted on Nov, 28 2006 @ 09:53 PM
...check out this article by Nir Rosen of the New America Foundation.

Written by someone who can successfully straddle the Western and Islamic worlds, this article makes the most sense I've yet seen in any coverage of the Iraq occupation. It's a long article, and for a warm-up, you might want to check out this interview with him.

It becomes clear on reading the article that Iraq was always a powder-keg waiting a spark to set it off. "Liberation" meant that the Shia would take control, which in turn meant the overwhelming likelihood of an Islamic republic under Sharia. Disenfranchising the Ba'athists can only have meant a descent into civil war.

Rosen fleshes out his analysis with plenty of relevant data, and it's really made a difference to the way I see the country. One suspects that had the idiots who prosecuted the war had the sense to hear what this guy had to say, they wouldn't have come out with all the garbage about "being greeted as liberators" and the invasion being a "cakewalk". Who knows, maybe Rumsfeld might not have threatened to sack the next general in the room who wanted to know what was going to happen after the invasion.

What emerges from Rosen's writings is a sense of where the power lies in Iraq. And it's not with the government or the US military, which Rosen views as just one militia among many. In reality, Iraq is already in the middle of a bloody civil war in which both sides are fighting the US as well as each other. Shias were under threat from the moment the invasion began, although at first nationalism united Sunni and Shia against the Americans. Even today, Muqtada al-Sadr is viewed as the "good Shia" by the Sunnis because of his nationalism.

Rosen's account of going to the mosque in Najaf and seeing Muqtada al-Sadr preach is enthralling. There were 10.000 people there - in the interview he says it was like a Michael Jackson concert (presumably without the allegations of child abuse). His account of Muqtada's rise is also a story of lost opportunities and misjudgements in post-invasion Iraqi politics.

But what emerges overall is a picture of a society so riven with factionalism that the destabilizing effect of invasion could have meant no other outcome than the civil war we now see, in all but name, in the streets of Iraq.

Read the article, listen to the interview... and wonder why you never heard this kind of analysis before.

[edit on 28-11-2006 by rich23]

posted on Nov, 28 2006 @ 10:59 PM
great movie, thanks for posting it.. ill be keeping an eye out for the book.
Obviously a very pro shia side,
But its a great political film if anything.

posted on Nov, 28 2006 @ 11:47 PM
If you read the article, I think you'll find it's less pro-Shia than you think. The guy's got access through the Shia people, but he's actually pretty neutral:

The journalist was an informal intelligence gatherer in the neighborhood. Three years earlier I had found thousands of Baathist security files in an abandoned and looted General Security Service office that documented the day-to-day operations of the dictatorship, including orders for executions, arrests, spreading rumors, and countering rumors, as well as lists of snitches and collaborators, and careful records of mosque sermons. They revealed the names of Baathists and those who cooperated secretly with them and the fates of missing men imprisoned under Saddam. At the time I felt that they were Iraqi patrimony and should be handed over to an Iraqi movement. The journalist was associated with the Dawa Party and asked to borrow them. I agreed. I never got them back. I now believe that they were used to compile hit lists for Shia militias in Shaab who targeted former Baathists. The journalist was involved in this.

My impression is that he's not exactly pleased that he inadvertently assisted in the murder of Ba'athists, but he's scrupulously honest and prepared to admit his mistake.

posted on Nov, 29 2006 @ 05:06 PM
I'm telling you kids, you really ought to read that article, if you haven't done so already.

It gave me some interesting context for this story about Saudi Arabia intervening in Iraq if the US pulls out.

Stepping Into Iraq

Saudi Arabia Will Protect Sunnis if the U.S. Leaves

By Nawaf Obaid

11/29/06 "Washington Post" -- -- In February 2003, a month before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, warned President Bush that he would be "solving one problem and creating five more" if he removed Saddam Hussein by force. Had Bush heeded his advice, Iraq would not now be on the brink of full-blown civil war and disintegration.

One hopes he won't make the same mistake again by ignoring the counsel of Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal, who said in a speech last month that "since America came into Iraq uninvited, it should not leave Iraq uninvited." If it does, one of the first consequences will be massive Saudi intervention to stop Iranian-backed Shiite militias from butchering Iraqi Sunnis.

Over the past year, a chorus of voices has called for Saudi Arabia to protect the Sunni community in Iraq and thwart Iranian influence there. Senior Iraqi tribal and religious figures, along with the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and other Arab and Muslim countries, have petitioned the Saudi leadership to provide Iraqi Sunnis with weapons and financial support.

So... Iranian Shias on one side, and Saudi Sunnis on the other. This is looking very dicey indeed. Context from the original article:

Saddam had used Sunni Islam to legitimize his power, building one large Sunni mosque in each Shia city in the south; these mosques were seized by Shias immediately after the regime collapsed. During the 1990s Saddam also used the donations that Shia pilgrims make to the shrines they visit—totaling millions of dollars a month—to finance his Faith Campaign, which spread Sunni practices in Iraq and even declared official tolerance of Wahhabis for the first time, perhaps because of their deep hatred of Shias. Wahhabism is an austere form of Sunni Islam, dominant in Saudi Arabia, that rejects all other interpretations and views Shias as apostates. Wahhabis had traveled up from Arabia in centuries past and sacked Shia shrines. Now Shias were terrified of a Wahhabi threat. They feared that Wahhabis would poison the food distributed to pilgrims. According to a cleric in Najaf, Sheikh Heidar al Mimar, “There were no Sunnis in Najaf before the 1991 intifada, but Saddam brought Wahhabis to the Shia provinces in order to control the Shia. These Wahhabis were very bad with us, and all Shia were afraid of them.” Again and again I heard Iraq’s Shias refer to all Sunnis as Wahhabis.

Agit8edChop, you were saying that this guy was biased towards Shias: here's another example of a fact that he could easily have omitted that shows the Shias in a less than flattering light:

these mosques were seized by Shias immediately after the regime collapsed

So it looks as if two Arab nations might even get drawn into the civil war, each to protect their faction. And you know what, even the oil industry is "in the grip of despair":

LONDON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - The present state of Iraq's collapsing oil sector, its economic lifeline, is bleak and its future looks far worse, despairing officials say.

Another damaging oil attack this week, the prospect of British troops handing over the oil city of Basra and virtual civil war have all but crushed hope for Iraqi officials battling to keep exports flowing to world markets.

"One thing is sure. The worst is yet to come," an Iraqi oil industry source said by telephone from Baghdad.

His task is made harder still by gross mismanagement at the oil ministry and chronic underinvestment in the vital sector -- already neglected for decades due to sanctions and wars.

"There is no line of authority at the oil ministry," said an oil official in the capital. "We are crippled. We have the resources and the finances and we are still failing."

With Baghdad in chaos, technocrats fear the oil producing regions in the Shi'ite south and in the north near Kurdistan may seize control of exports and effectively dismember the country that holds the world's third biggest oil reserves.

"Our country may be dismantled -- farewell to central government," the oil source said. "This is the danger."

The prognosis, I have to say, is pretty gloomy. It's even worse than I could have imagined in my gloomiest predictions about the Iraq war. I assumed that the country would be brutally pacified and eventually settle into producing oil for the West at knockdown prices (which would, of course, not be transferred to the pumps). But the reality is much, much worse.

posted on Nov, 29 2006 @ 05:27 PM
I'd heartily reccommend:

"The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East" by Robert Fisk

Check it out at amazon, it's a monster of a book at over 1,300 pages. Fisk is a great journalist and I found his coverage, in the Independent, of the Israeli action against the Lebannon extremely powerful and moving.

Read the reviews and get the book!

posted on Nov, 30 2006 @ 12:02 AM
Fisk rocks. One of the few courageous and honest journos out there. And I keep meaning to borrow the book from a friend. (I know, I should get it. But actually my shelves are overflowing. I should cull... but getting rid of books is quite hard, even the ones you now think are crap.)

I do like this guy Rosen's perspective, though, and I suspect he can get to see things that even Fisk, with all his experience, cannot. Do read the article - even though it's really long. As I've said, I think it gives one some context for the welter of information coming out of the region.

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