Monday, March 27, 2006

Following yesterday's raid...

The Iraqi government, or more precisely the UIA part of it is obviously so outraged by the joint US-Iraqi army raid on al-Mustafa husseiniya that took place in eastern Baghdad yesterday.

Actually the reactions to this incident are so intense compared the reactions when 30 or 40 beheaded or strangled bodies are found on nearly daily basis in Baghdad in a way that it makes me question the intentions of this part of the government even more; this incident has received more attention and was met by more objections that it deserves, or to be more accurate; other more worrisome and tragic deaths in Iraq are receiving far less attention that they should be. Everyday there are new dead bodies found in and around Baghdad yet no one bothers to open an investigation. Why is this one receiving special treatment?
And please do not think that I'm talking out of ridiculous sectarian emotions, on the contrary, I wish I could see the government investigate every single death and bring those responsible before a court of law but unfortunately I do not see this happening.
The raid on the husseiniya is not going to be investigated because those killed were Iraqis or Shia, the government will open an investigation because those killed were Sadrists and because Muqtada feels this raid was targeting his militia and fears that letting this one go without making enough noise will probably encourage the Americans to carry out more raids.

Now let's check out stories from the various concerned/involved parties; there's the interior ministry and national security ministry which are largely based on 'eyewitnesses' and statements from Sadr's men in the parliament. These source claim that Iraqi and American soldiers stormed the husseiniya and murdered 20 unarmed worshippers (37 in another story). So called eyewitnesses told local media that the soldiers locked the worshippers in one room, lined them against a wall and shot them dead.
Of course the MNF website has a different story (hat-tip: fourth rail):

Iraqi Special Operations Forces conducted a twilight raid in the Adhamiyah neighborhood in northeast Baghdad to disrupt a terrorist cell responsible for conducting attacks on Iraqi security and Coalition Forces and kidnapping Iraqi civilians in the local area.
As elements of the 1st Iraqi Special Operations Forces Brigade entered their objective, they came under fire. In the ensuing exchange of fire, Iraqi Special Operations Forces killed 16 insurgents. As they secured their objective, they detained 15 more individuals.

Anyway, footage from the scene shows burned vehicles outside the husseiniya, empty smoke grenades and inside the place there were empty shells of BKC machine gun (the main gun mounted on most of the Iraqi army vehicles) the BKC is not a one-GI carried gun but is rather used as a supportive-fire kind of weaponry and if soldiers were to execute unarmed people this would not be their gun of choice because AK-47s or pistols could do the job with less noise and are much easier to carry and it makes more sense to think that this weapon was fired by the people who were hiding inside the husseiniya especially that this gun is abundant at the arsenals of militias.
Also the use of smoke grenades means the assault team was expecting-and likely encountered-resistance from inside the target building.
There's also the burned vehicles on the street which indicate there was gunfire coming from inside the building because the MNF report says that Iraqi soldiers were fired at "after they entered their objective" and it makes no sense at all to fire at the street behind you when you're under fire from the building you are already inside.

However, the best evidence that proves that members of Mehdi army were inside the building came from a prominent Sdarist parliamentarian and spokesman of the Sdar trend; Baha' al-Aaraji told al-Hurra this evening that "worshippers from inside the besieged husseiniya talked to us in person on the phone and asked for help…".
So I wonder why would 'innocent ordinary worshippers' have the personal phone numbers of parliament members and Sadr office officials?!!

Still, the most important part of the case is missing that is a statement from the defense ministry whose soldiers were the trigger pullers in this raid and the defense ministry is who can reveal whatever there's to reveal.

Right now the Sadrists are trying to make a 'national crisis' out of this case, obviously to make some political gains at the expense of their political opponents and to support their accusations against the US military and US embassy.
Today on TV, Jawad al-Maliki, a hardliner from the UIA denounced "the American atrocities that are aimed at provoking civil war in Iraq…" and I just can't understand how can a US raid provoke civil war? Could it be that those American soldiers were Sunni extremists?!

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