Sunday, April 04, 2004

They'll throw flowers... peace and democracy... liberators.

Remember when people still thought this war would be easy?

Iraq was wracked today by its most violent civil disturbances since the occupation started, with a coordinated Shiite uprising spreading across the country, from the slums of Baghdad to several cities in the south. An American soldier and a Salvadoran soldier were killed in the unrest, news agencies reported.

By day's end, witnesses said Shiite militiamen controlled the city of Kufa, south of Baghdad, with armed men loyal to a radical cleric occupying the town's police stations and checkpoints.


"There is no use for demonstrations, as your enemy loves to terrify and suppress opinions, and despises peoples," Mr. Sadr said in a statement distributed by his office in Kufa today.

"I ask you not to resort to demonstrations because they have become a losing card and we should seek other ways," he told his followers. "Terrorize your enemy, as we cannot remain silent over its violations."
NY Times

The death toll for American forces is still unclear... various reports peg it anywhere from 8 to 10. Approximately 25 GIs are reported as wounded... pointing out that most often in this context, "wounded" can be interpreted to mean lost limbs and head trauma.

This is doubly bad news because, while the coalition has never enjoyed a good relationship with Sunni groups, the Shias were supposed to be "on our side" to an extent. Furthermore, rather than the sporadic roadside bombs and other small attacks that have caused most of the 474 deaths since "major combat" ended, this was a direct attack on coalition troops, accompanied by violent protests across the country. Perhaps it was simply a one-time thing, although given Mr. Sadr's words above, I'm thinking probably not. More ominously, perhaps it signals the beginning of a new phase of the war, one which will involve far more bloodshed on all sides than we have been accustomed to thus far.

It's very unlikely that the Sunnis and Shias are fighting together; more likely the US could now face what amounts to a two-front war in Iraq, having to cope with both groups simultaneously as they also fight each other for position once the occupying forces finally do leave. In other words, we're stuck in the middle of a embryonic civil war.
8:26 PM ::
Amy :: permalink