Empty Days

Friday, April 09, 2004



Iraq-n

Lousy mood. Meanwhile in Iraq things are developping - check out The Agonist for in-depth links and Command Post for main media Iraq news.

Watching a war develop from afar is a game - as long as you can't do a thing about it, watching out for news, figuring things out and pushing analysis is an intense intellectual game. But it's got little to do with the war itself.

Enlightening detail from Agonist's Newsboard:
He was referring to the gunmen dispatched by the Hawza Al-Ilmiya, the Shia seminary in Najaf that is led by al-Sistani. The Hawza has organized protection for Shia shrines throughout Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime a year ago, although al-Sadr's men have clashed with some al-Sistani supporters guarding Shia shrines in Najaf and Karbala. [Newsday]
Recall that there is a major holiday and pilgrimage underway all over the enbattled areas (Najaf, Karbala, Baghdad) - thousands of people who've got nothing to do with current insurgency are circulating. This is very surreal but it's a fact. There are 1.2 million pilgrims in Karbala already. US forces are busy fighting Al-Sadr and can't really provide much security for pious events.

In light of this: there are reports that there are clashes between al-Sadr men and Hawza militia (al-Sistani) who are probably trying to assure security for the holidays in various areas/neighbourhoods. There are also reports that Al-Sadr militia are fighting off thug elements who are naturally joining in the mayhem and organizing lootings. Also, foreign or radicalized Jihad groups are operating in the mayhem (kidnapping of the 3 Japanese and possibly other kidnappings as well, because al-Sadr militia let the hostages go when they can - if you look closely at reports). Basically the actual situation on the ground is really confused.

Fallujah itself is now a sort of Carthago under regular seige, with women and children and older people having been allowed to leave the town during the brief ceasefire (electricity and water having been cut off by US mil for a few days now) - possibly a result of resignations and public protests by members of IGC and failed negotiations with al-Sadr.

CPA demanded that Al-Jazeera tv reporters leave Fallujah as well (meaning: we won't be sorry if we accidentally kill you in there). On the other hand there are Iranian tv crews inside. Obviously these are considered friendly journalists by insurgents and enemy-propaganda by americans. US doesn't want too loud witnesses for incoming massacres in the city (though they might be inevitable it's still a bad impression):
Fighting continued in Fallujah, with explosions echoing through the city after nightfall. Residents turned a soccer stadium into a makeshift burial ground for hundreds of Iraqi dead. Women, children and the elderly were allowed to leave Fallujah, but men of "military age'' were ordered to stay in the city by Marines.
All in all, crushing Fallujah will not look good and the victory might turn sour.

***

The UK left [The Independent] are mocking their very own pro-war folks "turning coat": The pro-war commentators: what do they say now?

Format: What he said then - What he said recently - What he says now. Very blog-like fisking.

***

Fallujah. Russian Press reports via Al-Jazeera that US mil have been air-dropping cluster-bombs inside the city (perhaps after some of the civilians were allowed to leave) . That would explain high level of casualities.





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