Friday, August 27, 2004

"Muqtada al-Sadr is free... go anywhere he likes. He is as free as any Iraqi citizen."
That's how Qasim Dawoud, Iraqi Minister of State for Military Affairs describes the outcome of the siege of Najaf.

Here's what Juan Cole has to say...
I think the big losers from the Najaf episode (part deux) are the Americans. They have become, if it is possible, even more unpopular in Iraq than they were last spring after Abu Ghuraib, Fallujah and Najaf Part 1. The US is perceived as culturally insensitive for its actions in the holy city of Najaf.

The Allawi government is also a big loser. Instead of looking decisive, as they had hoped, they ended up looking like the lackeys of neo-imperialists.

The big winner is Sistani, whose religious charisma has now been enhanced by solid nationalist credentials. He is a national hero for saving Najaf.

For Muqtada, it is a wash. He did not have Najaf until April, anyway, and cn easily survive not having it. His movement in the slums of the southern cities is intact, even if its paramilitary has been weakened.
"...the big losers from the Najaf episode...are the Americans."

Another military defeat for American forces, not because the troops don't have the ability or the will to achieve victory, but because Bush,Rumsfeld & Co. have put them in an impossible situation. And they'll be facing the same fighters and the same weapons again, you can be sure, and very likely the same outcome.

Dexter Filkins reports for the New York Times...
As the fighters did not surrender themselves, neither did they surrender their guns, which the agreement permits them to keep. Instead, they took the machine guns and rocket launchers with which they had defended the shrine and loaded them onto donkey carts, covering them with blankets and television sets and sending them away. Hours later, Mahdi fighters still dressed in the signature black uniforms could be seen stacking rocket launchers into crates and pushing them into roadside shops.
And there's this...
After the bitter fighting with U.S. marines, many Mehdi militants still breathed defiance Friday.
"We will support whatever Ayatollah Sistani and Sayyed Moqtada have agreed. But we will still slit the throats of the Americans," said one militiaman, Hussein Taama.

Another held an AK-47 rifle which he said was his personal weapon that he would not give up: "I will keep this warm and wait for Sayyed Moqtada's order."
FUBAR, folks.

Completely FUBAR.


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