Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Moqtada to the security forces: Join us

The statement by Moqtada alSadr read out in a Baghdad square and published today (Tuesday April 8) makes what is essentially a two-part argument: First, our aim is a society in which Iraqis--including in the security forces--do not treat other Iraqis as their enemies. But given the scope and severity of the Maliki government's preparations, it appears likely that kind of fitna-inducing violence could well result from a mass march tomorrow. For that reason, it will be postponed.

After the opening general denunciation of the occupier and what he has done by way of killing and destruction, Moqtada alSadr continues:
...and they have spread fitna among us, and brought with them this project that they call "democracy", which they have made an arm to strike against the Iraqi people and to oppress and evict them, and to arrest them either themselves or by bands of their paid servants...But I am convinced that our genuine Iraqi army and police, [people] who have God and love of their country in their hearts, and treat the Iraqi people as their brothers, have not, and will not, raise their hand to kill or to arrest their sons and brothers--indeed, their fathers and mothers--and have not, and will not, stain their hands with the blood of their people, or torture them in the pits of the American prisons or elsewhere, as the occupiers have done to us, and before them the haddam (?)

Because look, you brave army and you patient police of Iraq,we have opened our hearts to you with love and we have held out to you our hand, now with olive branches and now with the holy book. Are you among those who love alIslaam wa assalaam, because if you are so, then I invite you to come to the aid of your brothers who are besieged, and to the aid of your sons who have been arrested, and to the aid of the wounded whom the hospitals and the doctors and nurses of Iraq are unable to cope with. Be like a single hand together with your brothers the mujahideen for the liberation of Iraq and for its independence and its unity in land and people, and there will be no separation between us on account of elections, or democracy, or America or the occupation, or the discredited [people] or Baathists, or the loathsome sectarian parties. May God reward you, and I ask him to make you an arm of Iraq and of its people and its land, and not of the occupation and its sins. Obedience to God is above all things.

The foregoing is one part [of what I have to say], the other part is this: We have seen the scope of the security dispositions that the "Maliki" government has put in place, and the scale of his escalation against the people in every part of Iraq, as if the people of Iraq and every single individual were a wanted person...
And his point is that given the lengths the Maliki government is going to, there is a significant risk of Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence--the thing to be avoided at all cost, for the reasons that he explained in the first part. Hence the postponement. And he invites "the government of Iraq, if it exists" to change course and protect the people from the bombings and the American militias and the "companies" behind which they hide, and to demand the withdrawal of the occupation forces or at least a schedule for their withdrawal, and turn their attention to providing services for the people.

In other words, this is a statement that says: First, Iraqis including those in police and the army are brothers, and last thing in the world that should be tolerated is for them to be at each others' throats. But the "government, if it exists" is currently at most a mere shadow of the occupation, one of whose aims is the "spreading of fitna among us", so that a mass march at this point would risk letting them foment just that kind of violence. The postponement is thus for the sake of unity. And in this connection there is also the continuing invitation to the Iraqi forces to do what many of them did in the Basra and Baghdad situations of the last two weeks: Refuse to fight other Iraqis.

What the western media has reported is the second part of this argument, leaving out the first part entirely, for reasons that surely don't need to be spelled out.


OpenID echochambers said...

An inspiring post.

5:56 PM  
Blogger NonArab-Arab said...

Interesting as always Badger. A few notes:

-I think "haddam" is "destroyer". Referring to Saddam or maybe Satan?

-Interesting that he condemns sectarian parties given the way his and the Mahdi Army are seen as very much that. But then that is the intermingling of the Sadrist trend with broader nationalist discourse that is a topic you and others have addressed many times.

-Again, I am left wondering how this echoes within other nationalist quarters? I greatly appreciate your efforts, it helps show just how much Sadr does emphasize rhetorically unity and nationalism. But is that voice heard or believed given on the ground death squads and such over the past few years? And more specifically in the current moment where all the Green Zone parties of all sectarian stripes seem to be lining up against Sadr and where the Awakenings seem to have a stake in defending the existing structure, do the Sadrists get any traction beyond their own (admittedly large) base?

6:25 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Shiite Iraq is on fire, Moqtada addresses his followers and the Iraqi police and Army, and your comment is that it might not "echo" with Sunnis because it's "rhetoric".

8:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Sadr correctly sees that the move against him, the so called operation "Knights Assault" is not at all different than the first wave of ethnic cleansing in Maliki's 2006 operation "Forward Together", except now its directed at him. What we've been led to believe has been a "civil war" has been in fact U.S. supported ethnic cleansing on behalf of the Maliki/Badr government.

anna missed

9:27 PM  
Blogger NonArab-Arab said...

Uh, did I hit a nerve? I certainly didn't mean to Badger, just trying to ascertain what's going on like you. Of course his main audience was his own constituents facing the immediate crisis. But he also could use some allies and included language (as he often does to his credit) that sounds to me like an attempt to reach out on a nationalist basis. So what I wonder is if right now anyone on the other side is listening or not? I don't have a good sense.

2:45 AM  
Anonymous Steve said...


I tend to agree with nonarab-arab about both the possibility of Sadr sending messages to the broader nationalist community and the absolute need to do so. He can't go it alone even with the extensive support he enjoys within his own constituency. I proposed in a previous post here that the ceasefire announcement was possibly one such message.

The painting of Sadr with the sectarian-nationalist brush has been incredibly effective, not only in the West but also in Iraq, and if he can't overcome that he's fairly easy to marginalize.

So, NAA's question is a pretty important one; how is the message being received by the other nationalist grouping who are not in Sadr's constituency?

I haven't seen or heard anything from Shaibani about the events of the past few weeks. Has he popped up anywhere in the Arab media?

For those readers who missed the events, Ahmed Shaibani, following his release from detention in early 2007 - where he gained the confidence of many in the Sunni resistance - headed up Sadr's reconciliation committee. Although treated with a good degree of skepticism by the US media and with all the usual contortions to fit the story into the ongoing sectarian narrative, Shaibanis outreach efforts were extremely important and are probably ongoing.

For example, how much of a hand did he have in putting together the Sheikh's conference last month?


3:38 AM  
Blogger badger said...

He was a Sadr spokesman in 04, "arrested" by the Americans. Here's the announcement of his release in March 07, and here's a reference to Petraeus in Jan 08 calling him head of the Mahdi Army. You're way ahead of me on the Sadr-Sunni-connection part of that story. Do you have some links or other helpful hints?

4:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good post.

5:45 AM  
Anonymous Steve said...

Only in English, I'm afraid:)



Maybe these can lead somewhere in the Arabic press.



7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One can only hope that As-sadr and his group are able to forge some kind of alliance with the various Sunni counterinsurgeny contingents and eventually (the sooner the better) exterminate all the "coalition of the willing" murdering terrorists out of Iraq. The world can`t wait for that day to come

2:14 PM  

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