Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sadrist news

A Sadrist official at a press conference read a statement by the Karkh (west Baghdad) Sadrist organization, accusing the American forces among other things of having executed four unarmed civilians after having arrested them late last week in the Shurta neighborhood, and giving the government and the American forces 24 hours to release others arrested during those operations, and to apologize for their excesses. If there isn't a satisfactory reply, the statement said, the Sadrist movement will have a number of alternative responses, "the least of which would be sit-ins and civil disobedience."

Meanwhile, the Green Zone came under two rounds of attacks by "mortar fire and Katyusha rockets", at 6 am and 10am respectively, attacks that Green Zone officials intimated were by Sadrists, but without elaborating. A spokesman for the ambassador said no one was killed and injuries were light, but Azzaman quoted police to the effect at least two people outside the government and diplomatic compound were killed in the attacks.

[The NYT says there was another attack around 8:30 in the evening: "Barrages of mortar fire continued through the day at four- to five-hour intervals, including a series of intense blasts just before 8:30 p.m. In that assault, one round landed just outside the Green Zone wall on the west bank of the Tigris, igniting a large brush fire. For hours afterward, the city was oddly silent, the helicopters that are a constant presence here nowhere in sight." And the NYT says a total of 13 Iraqis were killed by mortar fire that fell outside the Green Zone. Both the NYT and the local-paper reports rely on what could be seen and heard from outside the GreenZone: Columns of black smoke; blasts that shook the whole city; sirens and loudspeaker warnings; and so on. There doesn't seem to have been anyone reporting on this from inside the Green Zone].

And with respect to Basra, AlHayat says the British have gone back on their plan to reduce their troop level in southern Iraq. The AlHayat journalist writes:
As the level of tension rises between the Iraqi government and the American forces on the one side, and the Mahdi Army on the other, the British Defence Minister went back on a previous plan to reduce their forces in Basra from 4100 to 2500, given the preparations that the Iraqi army is making for a broad operation against Shiite militias in that city.
It is worth stressing that the incidents in Shurta (referred to in an earlier post here) are between Sadrists on the one side, and the GreenZone and American forces on the other, and there has been no suggestion that they are Sunni/Shiia sectarian. This needs to be remembered, because there is a danger that once the truce breaks down, the situation could deteriorate, at which point the government/US forces role in this could well be forgotten, and this will become another "Shia versus Sunni" story. (One of the Arabic papers warns about this, but I can't find the link...)


Post a Comment

<< Home