Taking on the Shia
US threatens big assault on Najaf
Najaf, 10 August 2004
US and Iraqi forces are preparing for a final assault against Shia Muslim fighters in the holy city of Najaf, the US military has said.
American forces have been battling insurgents loyal to radical cleric Moqtada Sadr for the past week.
In response to the US announcement, Sadr loyalists threatened to blow up oil pipelines in the south if US forces launch an assault on Najaf.
Hundreds have been reported killed or injured since the fighting began.
The US military said it was holding joint exercises with the Iraqi national guardsmen to prepare for a final assault on militia in Najaf.
"Iraqi and US forces are making final preparations as we get ready to finish this fight that the Moqtada militia started," said Col Anthony Haslam, commanding officer of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Najaf.
It is not clear when the threatened assault might take place.
On Monday, officials shut down oil fields in the south of the country after threats of sabotage from Sadr loyalists.
Mr Sadr has called on his followers to keep fighting even if he himself is captured or killed.
"I thank the dear fighters all over Iraq for what they have done to set back injustice," he said as fighting flared up in other cities such as Amara, where at least 10 Iraqis died in clashes with UK forces.
Fresh clashes were also reported on Wednesday night in the Sadr City area of Baghdad.
In Advanced Squad Leader, Russian troops can go into berserker mode, whcih means they will attack without regard to casualities, think human wave attack on the large scale. Attack the Imam Ali Mosque and see the Shia do the same thing.
Well, attacking Shia Islam's most holy site, seeking to make a martyr of Sadr, is bone stupid. Killing him would be the best way to ensure the war not only continues, but expands.
The thing that Americans want to ignore about Sadr is that his movement is bigger than he is. It is a movement of the poor and disenfranchised. And it goes beyond any one man. He's just the Iraqi Iraqis knows will go down for them. His father died for them and if he dies, well, he becomes yet another Shia martyr. The smart move would have been to move him into government, not make him an outlaw hero.
Sadr has even made alliances with Sunni clerics, as an Iraqi resistance hero.
God, the last thing you want to do is give poor men guns and a reason to make girls swoon. And we're doing just that. Some skinny 18 year old has a new swagger because he's got an AK in his hands and some boys to start shit with the Americans around him. It doesn't get to be more fun than that, until they get shot.
And we're doing the dirty work that Allawi wants done, and he'll never hold the country together. It's only a matter of time before the Shia demand to run the show. Allawi will never keep control like the US hopes. Entering the Imam Ali mosque will only get a lot of people killed, especially Americans.
posted by Steve @ 5:46:00 PM