Thursday, April 29, 2004

Revolt against Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq?

From The Scotsman via Instapundit

Now I wonder how long, if ever, we will read about this at the BBC or Guardian?


"In a deadly expression of feelings that until now were kept quiet, a group representing local residents is said to have killed at least five militiamen in the last four days.

The murders are the first sign of organised Iraqi opposition to Sadr’s presence and come amid simmering discontent at the havoc their lawless presence has wreaked.

The group calls itself the Thulfiqar Army, after a twin-bladed sword said to be used by the Shiite martyr Imam Ali, to whom Najaf’s vast central mosque is dedicated."


But while Iraq’s leading Shiite moderate cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has warned the US that the city border was an uncrossable "red line", he is known to share the anger of many Shiites about Sadr’s use of a holy place as a sanctuary.

Local residents, moreover, are deeply angry at how his revolt has robbed them of their livelihoods in recent weeks.

It would seem all is not doom and gloom as the BBC would like it to be.

Since Sadr’s forces drove out Spanish troops this month, the tens of thousands of Shiite pilgrims who keep the city’s hoteliers, taxi drivers and restaurateurs in business have become a mere trickle.

During a visit to the city by The Scotsman last week, some residents branded Sadr "the second Saddam", claiming his followers regularly intimidate locals who speak against him.

Either way, the realisation that not every fellow Iraqi in Najaf may be a friendly face seems to have had a notable effect on Mahdi morale.

According to the Najaf carpenter Mr Abbass, many of the militiamen are shedding their trademark black headbands and jumpsuits.

"Many of them, I am sure, only joined because they like posing about in that clothing," he said. "Now, hopefully, they will go home."

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