February 24, 2006


From the NY Times:

After a day of violence so raw and so personal, Iraqis woke on Thursday morning to a tense new world in which, it seemed, anything was possible.

The violence on Wednesday was the closest Iraq had come to civil war, and Iraqis were stunned. In Al Amin, a neighborhood in southeast Baghdad, a Shiite man said he had watched gunmen set a house on fire. It was identified as the residence of Sunni Arab militants, said the man, Abu Abbas, though no one seemed to know for sure who they were.

"We all were shocked," said Abu Abbas, a vegetable seller, standing near crates of oranges and tomatoes. "We saw it burning. We called the fire department. We didn't know how to behave. Chaos was everywhere."

Pajamas Media's own Iraq the Model:

In our neighborhood the Sadr militias seized the local mosque and broadcast Shia religious mourning songs from the mosques loudspeakers. In several other cases, worshippers were turned away by "gunmen in black" who surrounded the closed mosques. Other mosques are encircled by razor-wire to stop anyone from approaching them.

The sense in the streets and the statements given by some Shia clerics suggest that retaliation attacks are organized and under control and are focusing on mosques frequented by Salafi and Wahabi groups and not those of ordinary Sunnis.

Looking at the geographic distribution of the attacked mosques, I found they were mostly in areas adjacent to Sadr city forming a line that extends from the New Baghdad district in the southeast to al-Hussayniya in the northeast.

Two different snapshots remind us that in such fluid events, nothing is certain. Whether triggered by al Qaeda or Iranian proxy al-Sadr who was just too conveniently out of the country for my tastes, the bombing of the 1,200-year-old Askariya shrine ignited a firestorm in Iraq.

The question on everyone's mind is if it is possible to bring this situation back under control. I strongly suspect that it can and will be brought back under control, because it is not in the interests of the three major groups--Shiites, Sunnis, or Kurds--for this situation to devolve into a civil war. The only groups that have something visibly to gain are Zarqawi's al Qaeda, which have sought from the beginning to destabilize the Iraqi government, and Iranian puppets like Muqtada al-Sadr.

I think that if authorities can bring Shiite reprisal attacks under control within the next few days without too much further damage, then the violence might serve as a wakeup call to the major groups. This attack, if traced back to al Qaeda, could bring a rapid end to the remaining Sunni support for an insurgency that is already at war with itself.

Blowing up the Askariya shrine might prove to be the equivalent of detonating dynamite to blow out a burning well fire. al Qaeda in Iraq might have just blown out their own flickering flame.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at February 24, 2006 12:15 AM | TrackBack

There are now reports saying that Sadr's militias are defending Sunni mosques in areas that his militias operate, and there's been an underreporting of demonstrations held by Sunni and Shia jointly to protest the destruction of the mosques.

You're right that this is still a fluid situation, but the NYT and other media outlets appear to have a vested interest in trying to spin things into the worst case scenario that Iraq is devolving into a civil war. It flies in the face that none of the groups other than al Qaeda and external forces like Iran want continuing violence and bloodshed to maintain their presence there. Shia, Kurd, and Sunni appear to want to make things work - and the government's curfew may be working to stop the violence.

Posted by: lawhawk at February 24, 2006 11:58 AM

Lawhawk is right. I found a very intersting post this morning over at 24 steps to liberty. He is an Iraqi blogger that says the news in Iraq is very different from what we are hearing here in the US.

I have an excerpt and a link to his post here

Posted by: The Ugly American at February 24, 2006 10:26 PM

Check out Gateway Pundit's article entitled: After Shock of Golden Mosque Bombings, Iraqis Hold Unity Protests

It goes through some of the information on the showing of unity over there.

Posted by: Specter at February 24, 2006 11:03 PM