News and opinions on situation in Iraq
15/08/04 New Assault on Najaf and the Shi'a Holy Cities Begins … As Baghdad Conferences Are Marred in Delegate Disruptions … and Mortar Fire …
TMPress ™ – United News & Press Features ®

(TMPress International – New York – August 15, 2004) … Armed clashes resumed as US Armor rolled through the center of Najaf – a day after talks were cut off by PM Allawi and the Interim Baghdad government. Exchange of gunfire between the Coalition forces, which now includes the Iraqi National Guard, and the Mehdi Army were reported in and around Najaf after the breakdown in negotiations.

At the end of the morning session of the National Assembly Conferences in Baghdad, many of the delegates shouted at interim President Ghazi Yawar asking him to order an end to fighting in Najaf, which houses the shrine of Imam Ali, one of the holies for Shi'a. “Mr. President, it is a principle of democracy that authorities listen to the voice of the others,” a Shi'a delegate shouted as the President was leaving. Mortar fire shook the building in the so-called ‘Green Zone,’ where the conferences were being held! Many delegates complained that the list of 100 selected names to lead the new Interim National Assembly, all had links or direct ties to the PM Allawi's coalition of parties, and did not represent the true political diversity of the nation.

Aides of rebel Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr had said earlier, that the US troops are in a position to attack Najaf at any moment … this could precipitate a massive Shi'ite uprising. The US now has forces poised to attack other Shi'ite holy cities of Karbala, Kufa and Kut, but have not made any significant moves yet, except in support with air attacks – as Najaf will be the centerpiece of pending military operations. In the south, Nassiriya, Al Amarah and Basra have erupted in fighting (before and after the cease-fire), between Coalition forces and Sadr's forces – some of which now include Iraqi police and Iraqi National Guard based in the south of Iraq. The situation on the ground is tense, and it seems that the Southern Iraqi cities, which are mainly Shi'a, are supporting Sadrist forces vs. the Interim Government in Baghdad. Earlier Coalition forces held back to some degree in the South, at the heels of warnings from Iraq's top clergy … but the Sunni Clerical Hierarchy and the Shi'a `Marjaiya' now seem relegated to the side. Both sides feel that the spilling of blood in the Northern rebel Sunni areas and the Shi'a south in an all-out armed conflict, until resolution seems inevitable. Shi'ites have stated repeatedly that they will not hesitate to pursue more radical means in protecting their holy cities.

In the north, US jet fighters again bombed the city of Fallujah, witnesses said – there were no immediate reports of injuries, but fighting in and around Al Anbar province seems to have been without end. In surprising developments, the fiery Shi'a cleric Sadr has had his pictures begin appearing at various Sunni mosques in Baghdad and in and around the so-called Sunni Triangle … places where there had previously shown little interest in his movement … the displays of common unity between the sometimes very polar Sunni and Shi'a communities will have country-wide implications for the guerrilla militias working together, making Coalition troops duties and Iraqi security forces working with them a nightmare.

President Ghazi Yawar, PM Allawi and Interim Iraqi officials allied with them seem to be betting more on this weekend's conference, to tighten their grip on power vs. true national reconciliation. But with the Shi'a south threatening separation, it seems Allawi and his Iraqi National Accord (INA) will plant the seeds of Civil War – during the National Assembly Conferences, and unwittingly the Coalition forces will have helped them. The grand scheme of legitimate self-determination and true sovereignty of Se?or Bush dashed once again – by power hungry elitists! – By John Osborne, Sr. Political Editor – TMPress International Newswire

© 2004 TMPress International Newswire. Reprint granted without fee or license, please query for reprint permission.

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