Friday, August 13, 2004

The Siege Of Najaf: Historical Parallels Abound

This is insane. The Americans are repeating the strategic self-defeat of Fallujah, now in Najaf.

I don't expect as tough a resistance from the Mahdi Army in Najaf as there was in Fallujah: a weakly organised bunch, most of whom are not even locals - Najaf is pro-Hakim territory, Sadr chose it as focus of the uprising because of the religious significance and because he wants to take it over - and some believe they don't have to shoot on target because God will guide their bullets. But no Najafi will thank the Americans for ruining the city in the process, and even less sympathy from the mostly pro-Sadr Shi'a in Baghdad, Amara, Nassiriyah and the deep South.

And the whole thing is so bizarre! I mean, they attack people who have nothing to do with Saddam, nor with international terrorism, but now they barely bother to justify the assault, not even with lies - the only reason is to ensure continued occupation.

What is even more bizarre how closely this clampdown resembles other clampdowns the US right wing, these stalwarts of the fight for freedom, usually recall when blasting their favourite enemies.

There is the parallel to the siege at Waco, as Juan Cole notes. Then, of course, there is the parallel to Saddam's crushing of the Shi'a rebellion, a rebellion involving militias quite similar to the Mahdi Army, after the 1991 Gulf War.

And for me from Central-Eastern Europe, there is the parallel to both the 1956 Hungarian and the 1968 Czechoslovakian interventions by Soviet (& allied) tanks, when as legal justification, the official line was that certain local communist leaders "invited" the Soviets to "end disorder" - just like the Americans now have the Allawi puppet government "authorising" the latest carnage they visited upon an Iraqi city.

I wonder whether our dear "New Europe" leaders, and if I shouldn't expect it from them - as at the moment they are mostly ex-communists - the liberals and ex-dissidents among the supporters of their Iraq/pro-US policy are turning aware of this, and feel uneasy...

UPDATE 18/08 Further parallels: "a collague" of Juan Cole was reminded of the storming of the Golden Temple, the holiest place for the Sikh, by the Indian army when a radical leader was holed up there some thirty years ago. Ultimately, it resulted in the assasination of both then-PM Indira Gandhi and a decade later his son Radjiv Gandhi by Sikhs, as the culmination of a wide terror campaign/civil war.

Also, in the eighties, an armed gang of Iranians took over the Mekka sanctuary during the Hajj, which the Saudi police crushed in a bloodbath. It resulted in strained relations between the leading Sunni and Shi'a theocracies, bt also increased the instability of Saudi Arabia - whose oil-rich regions along the Persian Gulf are populated by the large supressed Shi'a minority of the country.


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