Thursday, January 03, 2008

Solidarity (with an additional note upon awakening)

Let's say you had a dream last night and there were hundreds of Sunni and Shiite tribal leaders meeting together in a big tent in the southern part of Baghdad, praying the same prayer in the same way, and affirming their unity, along with Awakening Council leaders and local police and army people too. The representative of the Sadrist trend, which convened the meeting, denounced those who had introduced into Iraq the terms "rejectionist" to apply to Shiites, and who purported also to excommunicate Sunnis on the same narrow sectarian grounds. One of the Sunni tribal leaders stood up and said we are intermarried and we are interconnected, and the only people with problems about sect are the politicians with their sinecures. Another said we are together on a ship bound for safe land, and those who are not with us will be left behind. And so it went. There were no Americans there, no Hakim, no Maliki, none of them, no representatives of "the political process". And you woke up and looked in the papers for a report about this, and you didn't find any.

But it happened. You weren't dreaming. An Agence France Presse reporter filed about the meeting, and Al-Quds al-Arabi had a story about it, almost exactly in the way you dreamt it. But it wasn't--you know, it wasn't, like in the papers. Which doesn't mean it didn't happen. It did. It's hard to find anything else to say about this, except that the meeting was held in that area in South Baghdad where three months ago several hundred Sunni families fleeing the atrocities of the ISI, were given refuge by Shiite families and by the Sadrist organization in the neighboring district. If you type Hur Rajab in the search-box at the top of this page, you will see summaries of reports at that time from Reuters, Nahrainnet and others. That wasn't like, you know, in the papers either. You probably still think the whole idea is a dream, but I can't do anything about that.

(Additional note upon awakening: Interestingly enough, there is a piece in the NYT this morning (Friday) on the "Shiite praises awakenings" theme, along with a dramatic picture, looking like an outtake from Lawrence of Arabia or something. But it was a different meeting! The speaker was Hakim of the Supreme Council, delivering a very Bush-like address on the need to continue fighting terrorism everywhere, with the usual Supreme Council thing about the need for federalism (this was delivered in Najaf, so "federalism" meant the big nine-province quasi-separatist Supreme Council scheme) so that services can be provided without reference to a central government. What made it particularly interesting was that the NYT failed to tell its readers who the audience was. This was an audience of "messengers" and "[female] messengers"--a Shiite term for lay-preachers of the Shiite faith--and needless to say there wasn't person of the Sunni persuasion anywhere.)

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya report a different story (with pictures):
http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/070FEE93-329D-4050-B4E5-80223649EDB0.htm
http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2008/01/03/43739.html
They say that the Baghdad reconciliation meeting was attended by shia and sunni tribal leaders, by a large number of leaders of security services, police and army and by the sadrists.
Instaed, in your narrative, there were only the sadrists and the sunnis, and "there were no representatives of the political process". I understand that you always sing the praises of al-Sadr and the Mahdi army , but you could get a look at al-Jazeera photo. In your opinion is it doctored or what?

12:12 PM  
Blogger badger said...

No. Here's the thing. If you go back to those Sept 15 and 16 news-items I linked to, I think it's clear that what happened was on a local basis, the Shiites where the Sunnis were taking refuge had the benefit not only of the Sadrist organization, but also the cooperation of local people who were part of the army and the police. But I don't think there was any suggestion that this was the result of any chain-of-command thing coming from the GreenZone. On the contrary it was purely local, and the fact the local cooperative endeavor included army and police people had nothing to do with the GreenZone or the GreenZone "political process". This recent meeting was in part a celebration of that spirit of cooperation. And one part of that was the fact that once you strip away the GreenZone shenanigans, you can have local solidarity that doesn't exclude anyone, even those who draw their pay from the central government. That's my reading anyway. That's what I was getting at.

2:01 PM  
Blogger badger said...

And by the way, the Al-Quds al-Arabi piece that I was summarizing did, as I noted, say this was attended also by police and army people. In fact the Al-Jazeera piece wasn't different at all, but a verbatim copy of the Al-Quds piece.

2:06 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Sorry, I didn't "link" to those Sept pieces, I noted that you can find them by typing "Hur Rajab" (the name of one of the neihborhoods) in the search box at the upper-left of this page: They're the posts called "Changes" and "May God punish those who divide us".

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Alamet said...

Badger, thank you as always!

Alamet

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to enjoy reading your pieces, but frankly you now come across as another Nibras Kazimi.
Next you will be praising Chalabi and the occupatio.

8:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Badger = Nibras ???

Now that's an odd comparison. Granted they both have a pretty strong edge that they wear on their sleeve, but they're pretty darn different edges.

8:27 PM  
Blogger James said...

This southern Baghdad stuff sounds like stuff that's been going on in Mahmudiya (also south of the city...same thing?), sponsored by the local Iraqi Army commander and the United States Institute for Peace (a non-profit conflict-resolution outfit). They've got some stuff up on their site about it, on their Iraq chief-of-mission's blog...

1:30 PM  

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