Sunday, August 29, 2004

Continuing crisis.

The battle of Najaf is over but the crisis has not ended yet as well as battles in other parts of Iraq. We are now in another "truce" as long as the reasons that led to this crisis haven't been resolved yet and as long as every party still has demands that he sees as essential and cannot be negotiated, and at the same time each party sees himself as not defeated in that confrontation. As a matter of fact both parties have achieved some of their objectives and their losses are somewhat acceptable except the Iraqi people.

This crisis has shown that the reality on the ground is still far from our wishes, but that shouldn't make us lose courage and despite the pain and bitterness we should keep our eyes focused on our goal and try to learn from lessons that we can benefit from in the future, as it's not unexpected at all that we will witness another similar difficulty in the future.

It has become more than obvious that there are many international parties that seek to destroy Iraq or at least hinder the democratic process in Iraq, and those parties have proven their ability to mobilize certain powers in Iraq to serve this role in a way that makes it hard for anyone to throw a direct charge against them, but they have said it clearly and more than once that they won't spare an effort to make the democratic process dies in it's cradle. They call it "helping Iraqis to get rid of the occupation" and we all know what they mean by that. They will go on with their plans even if it means drowning Iraq in blood, our blood of course.

Here I see that the Iraqi government should deal firmly with this issue since Iraqi officials know the truth of this interference and its goals. There have been many announcements made by Iraqi officials in this respect but they have not been taken seriously by the other party, as the issue has become a matter of life or death for them and they will not stop their destructive efforts unless the crisis move into their land.

Some political trends in Iraq still see in Iran a strategic ally despite that the main parties who had good relation with Iran previously, have learned the lesson, and have been minimizing their contact with the Iranians slowly but steadily, as they know that the Iranian regime is the one that's going to lose in this confrontation with America and that this will probably not take a long time, and no one sane wants to stop with the losing part. This becomes more evident when we see that those who still believe that Iran will have a big role in Iran in the future are mainly young people with more passion than brains.

But what was the role of the people in this crisis? Iraqi people had taken a clear stand in this battle despite the fear and threats, as the militias had the louder voice in the tension areas and it's difficult for civilians to stand against that, as you are facing a young man 18 year old or even younger who have no education and who carries an RPG or an AK47 pointed at you and your family, and you know that he won't hesitate for a moment to use it. Still many Iraqis and in many occasions have asked the government to stop these people by all possible means, and I don't know why the cries of those Iraqis didn't get enough coverage. The people of Najaf had a clear stand against these militias and the tribes there took their arms to stop the militias from taking control of their areas and they helped the police in their fights too, and that was why they couldn't control the governerate building and the police stations in Najaf despite many attacks and had to settle in the old cemetery and the shrine.

Sadr and his followers have lost all the support from the majority of Iraqis as a result of their doings and this will be revealed more clearly if they took part in any elections in the future although I highly doubt that they will ever do that. It has become obvious too that this movement has attracted many fascists from different parts including Ba'athists and those who could't find a place in the new Iraq. Add to that the sabotaging the oil pipe lines and infrastructure which left everyone here bewildered and angry with total lack of understanding to why they are doing this.

The other crime that cannot be forgiven is what happened in the "religious court". I think that if what happened gets a fair coverage, it will destroy the Sadr movement and rid it of any possible left support among Iraqis. What happened in this court was huge and was the worst crime since the end of the war. It resembles to a great extent what used to happen in Saddam's prisons in a way that makes us feel unsafe once again. Frankly the scene that was broadcasted on TV, shocked me and terrorized me. I started to feel really afraid and my mind recalled moments and pictures I've tried so hard to overcome the fear that they generated inside me for decades.

If you had asked the majority of Iraqis about security, they would tell you that Iraq is not secure now but that they are not afraid and they feel safe. Now, and after the latest events, most Iraqis started to feel unsafe again, and I'm talking about being afraid that you'd be killed or tortured for something you said and for an opinion that doesn't match with that of the "shadow of God on earth"; Saddam before and Sadr now.

Everyone should know the truth about what's happened in that court and the criminals who were responsible should be dealt with very firmly. What's needed now is a fast and thorough investigation so that everyone knows what would happen if such people were allowed to remain free, not to mention taking active part in political life and getting into the position of decision making.

It will be a huge and unforgivable mistake to take what happened lightly and will make the rest partners in the crime and the crimes that would follow. Some parts may want to catch their breath and avoid anything that may inflame the situation and end the "truce", but this issue is too dangerous to be left for another time or to be subject to compromise.

The way these policemen, ING members and civilians were, tortured, killed and mutilated shows not only the brutality and savageness of Sadr followers but also the bravery of Iraqis in standing against the enemies of freedom, the thing that was more clear in the attitude and determination of the leaders in Najaf that no one can deny. I felt hope and great pride whenever I saw the chief of the IP in Najaf and its governerate together with the Iraqi troops there. I felt that the future will be ours and that the hope is great in the sons and daughters of Iraq. We need more like these people; they've made unforgettable sacrifice when they continued to fight evil when their families were kidnapped and when the thugs were threatening to behead them. This is a rare bravery and one that I will always remember.

Still that battle brought some good progress too. The stand of the majority of clerics represented by Sistani was an honorable one when he declared that the security in the city and the shrine should be in the hands of the government. This was a clear recognition of the legitimacy of the interim government that will definitely give a needed support to the democratic process and the upcoming elections, as the interim government will supervise these elections and this means that the She'at clerics have decided to put their trust in the government as it does its job and showed that their (the clerics) job would not be more than giving advice and support which is also a blow to the Iranian efforts to use religion and clerics against the interim government.

All this support with that provided by the newly formed interim national conference and the growing power of the ING and IP, made the government more confident in its confrontations although we all hoped for a much better outcome. There are still many sacrifices needed and it won't be only surviving that will ensure victory, as even if the government finished all its tasks, it won't mean much with gangs and fanatics terrorizing people and making them afraid to use their rights and voice their opinions.

-By Mohammed.

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