Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Battles in Baghdad have reached a surge today. You can hear heavy machine guns, mortars, RPGs all the time together with helicopters and jet fighters firing all kind of weapons including what seems to be small bombs sometimes (judging by the sounds) All this is coming from Sadr city and some neighboring areas and it seems closer to us here in the center than previous days.

Many people say that some of the Mahdi Army militia have left Sadr city and are infiltrating the side roads of other neighborhoods. People say that they are preventing people from opening their shops, shutting down those who are open together with gas stations. This seems logical since they can’t perform in Sadr city with the curfew still working there but I doubt that they are able to pass through the check points made by the American army and the ING all over Sadr city, at least not in large numbers.

I went with one of my friends to fill his car with gasoline from AL Sha’ab gas station that’s situated in Al Sha’ab district close to Sadr city. We found it closed and a guy who sells ice there told us that masked men from Mahdi Army came and forced the owner to shut down his station and leave. There are other rumors of masked armed men making checkpoints inside Baghdad (outside Sadr city).

However the truth is that Iraq is a country that’s well known to accept and spread rumors in a lightening speed. This was particularly obvious at Saddam’s days, as his Mukhabarat were usually the source of such rumors intended to make people afraid all the time and give him the features of a mighty ruler who knows and controls everything and it seems that Sadr followers are using the same weapon. The reason why I think this is just a rumor is that when I went out I saw Humvees patrolling all the major roads of Baghdad and there were a bunch of them near that same gas station. Also this morning the taxi driver who took me to work was complaining that most gas station were closed since yesterday, and that it a long time before this rumor spread.

This could be as a result of the attack on one gas station in Sadr city yesterday or as a precaution taken by the government, as these thugs are desperate now and are ready to do anything, causing as much deaths and destruction as possible, and this is all normal for criminals when trapped in a desperate position. Many people believe that Sadr thugs are using mortars to fire randomly at the center of Baghdad, and actually some mortar shells fell on civilian places in many parts of Baghdad.
It is obvious now more than anytime that these criminals fate is sealed, as they are showing that they won’t stop and are ready to go all the way, just as their idiot of a leader said that he will fight till the last drop of blood inside his body. Well I would like to say: Go ahead Muqtada, fight till you go to heaven, as we love you that much and want to see you being martyred!

However and as much as I wish this ends soon, I still think that arresting him and exposing him as the idiot he is (I don’t really believe he’s an evil man though, he’s not smart enough to be so!) to all Iraqis who might still sympathize with him and his like. It seems that the American army is very serious this time to demolish the Mahdi army for good. I really don’t mind all this trouble, instability and risk that comes along with getting rid of Sadr and his men, as it’s worth it since it will definitely make Iraq a much safer place and make elections more possible in the near future, but if all this end without capturing him then I don’t know how I will feel and how Iraqis will view all these loses as they would be truly unnecessary since we could’ve “negotiated” with those criminals from day one and spare people all these troubles.

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