Tuesday, April 01, 2008

No letup in GreenZone attacks. No analysis. (But an update with an obvious guess where they are moving)

Azzaman, working partly from an AFP report, says this morning that at least five people were injured in mortar attacks on the Green Zone Monday, some of them seriously. The report quotes an Iraqi eyewitness who said six shells fell near one of the checkpoints in the Green Zone, injuring at least five people including an Iraqi officer, adding that some of the injuries appeared to be serious.

The Azzaman reporter reviews the fact that attacks on the Green Zone increased when the goernment, with US support, launched its campaign against the Mahdi Army a week ago, and he reviews the American claims attributing the GZ attacks to Mahdi Army spinoffs with Iranian support. He notes that the Green Zone attacks haven't let up in spite of the government/Mahdi-Army cease-fire. He doesn't mention yesterday's claim by the Sunni resistance group Jaish al Muslimin of responsibility for six Karad rocket attacks on the Green Zone yesterday.

US media didn't have anything new to say about the GreenZone attacks this morning. McClatchy merely said "Mortar and rocket fire continued to rain down on the heavily fortified Green Zone, where American officials remained under orders not to travel except in armored vehicles or sleep anywhere but hardened buildings." And the NYT said even less: " Rockets and mortar shells again fell on the fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad, as they have for the past week."

In this connection, it is worth noting what Moqtada alSadr said in his most recent statement, congratulating and thanking his followers for their patience and their courage and so on, and urging them to "gather up your efforts for confrontation with the greater enemy." [See the following post for the whole text of this short statement]. A Sadrist official was quoted by the NYT as thinking along these same lines:
One Sadr official, Shiek Amar Asad, 31, said he understood that Mr. Sadr’s order to prohibit fighting applied only to Iraqi security forces. When Americans came into Sadr City, he said, the militia fighters could begin shooting.

“Maybe our case with the government is over,” he said. “But not with the occupiers.”

He was perhaps thinking of paragraph 4 of the Sadr cease-fire document, which says:
(4) We announce that we will renounce those who carry weapons and target the government and service agencies and institutions, or [political] party offices
but doesn't say anything about "the greater enemy." In fact the document's prologue explained that the cease-fire is, among other things, "in preparation for [Iraq's] independence and its liberation from the armies of oppression..."

(The report in the Qatari paper AlArab yesterday about moving the American embassy isn't mentioned anywhere that I can see*. One possibility is that the story was triggered by an observation of Americans moving some documents out of the GreenZone embassy as a precaution, along with general reluctance of others (Iraqi parliamentarians and so on) to keep on occupying their GreenZone quarters. The indication of stuff being moved "toward the western part of Baghdad" could indicate the airport. It's perhaps worth remembering that at the time of the last Mideast turnover of territory (Gaza from Fatah to Hamas), one of the big problems was that Dahlan and his group failed to clean out their intelligence files, leading to a lot of criticism and some embarrassment. That may be what is going on here, but I don't know).


* [Update] I should point out that the AlArab paper itself spells out a little better what it is saying about the American embassy response to the attacks. Today (Tuesday April 1) it says continued attacks on the Green Zone " have led to the moving of a large number of employees to a "secure" location [quotation marks are the journalist's] outside the heavily fortified Green Zone. So it isn't just documents but "a large number of employees" that are being transferred somewhere else, supposedly more secure than the fortified Green Zone. I would say that might be the Airport.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has there been any reports of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani emerging from seclusion to offer his comments/advice/counsel, whatever, after the events of the past week?

9:32 AM  
Blogger badger said...

I haven't seen any. Just for what it's worth, I'd say his time may have gone by. His touchstone was Shiite unity, but having seen a Shiite government call in US forces to fight against Iraqis, that isn't really tenable any more. Sadr's touchstone is not Shiite but national unity, and it seems as if the recent decisions of Maliki and the US just proved his point. I don't know what Sistani could possibly have to say at this point. (That's just for what its worth).

10:49 AM  
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