Saturday, February 25, 2006
Who Did It?
A boy injured by a car bomb explosion looks up while recovering in a hospital, in Karbala, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Feb.25, 2006. A car bomb exploded Saturday in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, killing at least six people, including two women, and injuring more than 52, police said. The attack occurred as Baghdad and three nearby provinces were on a second day of a daytime curfew aimed at dampening the wave of sectarian violence that has killed more than 140 people since the bombing of a Shiite shrine.
(AP Photo/Alaa Al-Marjani)
Who blew up the dome on the Al-Askareyya Shrine (aka The Golden Mosque) in Samarra? Everyone has a theory. I'll stick with detailing the viewpoints of Iraqi bloggers. But go down the Blog Roll on the right to get everyone elses point of view. I recommend you first check out Chris Allbritton and The Mudville Gazette.
Perpetrator: Al-Qaeda In Iraq (aka Zarqawi/jihadis) or ex-Saddam Regime criminals (aka Saddam's Orphans) or both (aka The Return Party).
Purpose: To start a civil war for the purpose of general mayhem in the midst of which they can jettison the Iraqi democracy as unworkable and step in as Iraq's nationlist, unity, and security dictatorship and protector of morality.
Who believes this story: Hammorabi does:
The barbaric and savage attack on the Shire of Imam Al-Hassan Al-Askari in Samara is a continuation of the barbarism of the Saudi Wahabi terrorism, which started such destruction against the entire ancient heritage.
Hassan of An Average Iraqi believes it (I think so, the alternative would only make me sad):
I believe that the reason for such an attack, is an attempt to stir up civil war, between the Shias and Sunnis. In addition, of course, Al-Sadr is not helping at all...Does he not notice that he is falling into the plain trap laid in front of him?
[Col. Jeffrey Snow of the Multinational Division Baghdad said] "You know, the terrorists would like to see this break out in civil war."
...and in the spreading of false stories of mosques being destroyed.
US coalition spokesman, Major-General Rick Lynch... also suggested that the figures on attacks were exaggerated: "We believe there are people out there generating false reports... making things seem worse than they are. There have been pockets of violence, but we don't see that as a precursor to civil war." [He added] that US-led coalition forces have increased their presence alongside Iraqi security forces to defuse the situation.
I confess this is my favorite theory because of its simplicity. In every way this attack benefits the same people who have been engineering chaos in Iraq since April of 2003. And in no way can it hurt them. You can't say that about any other party. This is ostensibly a Shi'a mosque (not really since it's construction pre-dates the Shi'a and Sunni schools). Zarqawi and Zawahiri have not been at all ambivalent about their opinion of the Shi'a religion ("turn-coat deviants"). They have made it clear since late 2003 or early 2004 that platform number one in their mission is to generate a sectarian civil war in Iraq between Sunni and Shi'a Arabs to drive out the U.S. A war between these parties is also useful to them in that if Shi'a are (or perceived to be) attacking Sunni Arabs, the Return Party can step in as the Sunnis' protectors. The great thing about a plot like this is that the perpetrators need no higher goal than chaos for the sake of chaos. It fits with their M.O. (ala Tal Afar). Their propaganda cells can run around spreading false stories about attacks on Sunnis and Sunni mosques, or they can sit back and let Iraqis do it for them. They can put on black pajamas, Iraqi Army uniforms, or come as they are. It doesn't matter. They can launch attacks indescriminately on Sunni or Shi'a Iraqis (They don't care. Either they're turn-coat deviants or "traitorous apostates"), or they can let Iraqis do it to each other. There is no sense in which blowing up a holy site in Iraq redounds against them. They've been sending carbombs and murder-suicide bombers against plenty of mosques up until now. How could this hurt them more?
Even if one correctly identifies these guys as the perpetrators, the tendency is to play into their hands.
- Since Sunni Arabs have been the boosters and/or apologists of these groups;
- Since they have been the most likely to push fatuous myths of a patriotic, indigenous, clean-handed Resistance that only attacks "occupiers" (who, incidentally, are in Iraq at the behest of the freely elected Iraqi government: Kurd, Shi'a Arab, and Sunni Arab)
...because of that, Sunni Arabs as a whole tend to get blamed right along with the actual perpetrators. Causing Sunni persecution by Shi'a Iraqis or by the Iraqi government fits into their plans as surely as overt attacks against Shi'a Arabs.
The stunningly logical and non-partisan Ali of Free Iraqi posts about the unfairness of blaming the Sunni Arabs for Iraq's misery. He says all Iraqis are culpable in Saddam's crimes, whether Sunni or Shi'a. With snark that Jeffrey would be proud of, he says:
Since the end of the war every atrocity committed in Iraq was attributed to the Sunnis, not just the Ba'athists or radical Sunnis but all Sunnis. The poor She'at and Kurds have been suffering for hundreds of years while the Sunnis were all privileged and living in a paradise called Iraq, which is not the same Iraq She'at and Kurds were living in as in that Iraq goods were cheap, salaries hit the skies and we had TV shows where comedians make fun of Saddam. No one had to serve in the military and we were free to travel anywhere we wanted. In those times only She'at and Kurds were forced to serve in the army while Sunnis only worked as managers and ministers. Those poor She'at soldiers and officers were forced to kill their own people in the south and bomb their most holy shrine in Krabala in the 1991 uprising...
...She'at are no better than Sunnis and the Sadirists and the SCIRI are worse than Saddam. You spoke against Saddam and you're a traitor. You speak against Sadr and you're an infidel AND a traitor. It's only the American presence that's making them tone down their oppression and commit their crimes in the dark.
While Ali does admit that Sunnis have been supporting Zarqawi and Saddam's Orphans, he says that's in the past now. Maybe. But not totally. Still, one thing is for sure, taking retribution on the Sunni Arabs plays into al-Qaeda's hand.
Whoever did this, Zarqawi is laughing his hump off at the US and all the Iraqis whether they be turn-coat deviants or traitorous apostates. IMHO
Perpetrator: The Mehdi Army (aka Sadr's Thugs)
Purpose: To have a cause-celeb to rally their faithful, sweep them into power, and purge the Sunni Arabs and other infidels from Iraq. In 1933 Germany, just before an election in which the Nazis were running on an anti-Communist platform, Hitler sent his thugs to set fire to the German government building and symbol of its democracy, The Riechstag. The Nazis blamed the Communists and used the event to sweep Hitler to power. There is a lot to recommend this theory: All the stories of black pajamas attacking Sunnis all over Baghdad. It has a proven history of success.
Who believes this story? Errr...hard to say. Everybody and nobody. It's doesn't seem to be in any Iraqi's interests to buy this story. Even those who see Sadr as culpable prefer to see him as an arm of the Jaffari's Internal Ministry or Iran. But there are some exceptions: IraqPundit seems to see Sadr behind this.
Anyway,Omar at Iraq the Model, senses in the Iraqi Defense Ministers most recent statement that he is through jacking with Sadr's thugs:
The defense minister added that they are working in the government on activating the counter-terrorism laws which includes "arresting anyone who's found guilty of provoking violence".
I hope Omar is right. We'll see. Personally, though, this theory is my favorite backup theory.
Perpetrator: The "Iran-friendly" UIA/SCIRI Iraqi Government
Purpose: Umm...I don't know exactly. Maybe they want Iraq partitioned? Maybe they want a Sunni purge? Revenge over Saddam? There are as many potential motivations as there are Shi'a.
CMAR, you don't seem to get it. This is not a Qaeda vs. Iraqis conflict anymore, it's a Shi'ite dominated government vs. Sunni community conflict. These are not false reports of attacks I am posting, these are very well documented attacks with pictures and eyewitnesses from different areas of Baghdad and Iraq. If you understood Arabic, I would have directed you to Iraqi local tv channels which continue to receive mayday phone calls from citizens in Baghdad, except the governmental channels of course. There is fighting outside in my area. Now they are using mortar shells. The US military is nowhere to be seen. And perhaps that's a good thing. They can't afford to be forced to side with one group over the other. Just try to get this whole Al-Qaeda/Saddam orphans hype out of your head for a moment.
That time is over.
This statement doesn't necessarily mean he buys the theory though. He might only think the government is exploiting it. But many Iraqis do.
Zeyad's argument worries me however, because it seems to imply a justification for a general Sunni Arab war against the Iraqi government. It is the persistance of the insurgency (I contend) that gave the UIA an increase in their seats in the last election, and legitimizes the Badr Brigade and the Mehdi Army as neighborhood watchdogs. War against the Iraqi government is what a small minority of Sunni Arabs have been doing all along, it is what the majority of Sunni Arabs have been winking at all along, and it is just the thinking that has helped the insurgency to persist. It is in the interests of the Iraqi Sunni Arabs for a fight against the government to end...they are vastly outnumbered, and they will lose.
Purpose: See Theory 3: The Government Plot.
Who believes this theory? Reportedly many Iraqi Sunnis do. Honestly, it is hard for me to distinguish this theory from the "Government Plot" Theory or the Riechstag Theory since it always seems to come back to SCIRI or Sadr or both as co-conspirators, but perhaps the line is starker for some Iraqis. Maybe not, though (from the linked article):
The Iraqi National Accord party, headed by former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite, accused the pro-Iran Shiite coalition United Iraqi Alliance and the followers of the firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr of carrying out revenge attacks on Sunni mosques during which over 100 people were left dead.The Iraqi Islamic Party had a similar position. The party’s secretary general Tareq al-Hashemi told the al-Arabia satellite channel on Thursday, “The Shiite coalition and the followers of Sadr as well as their foreign supporters are behind this aggression”.
The IIP has been a big booster for the insurgency up until now. So it should surprise no one that they see everyone, and I mean everyone, behind this plot except the insurgency...even to the extent of imagining that Iran worked with the US military to pull this off. Which leads us to The Great Satan Theory.
Perpetrator: The US Military/CIA/Mosaad
Purpose: Divide and Control. Get the Shi'a and Sunnis fighting each other as a distraction and then the US can sneak the oil out of the country.
The great thing about this theory is that it requires no deep thinking. It is founded soley on another brainless premise a) that the US is behind every evil act that occurs in the world and b) that everything but everthing is in its interest except for the decent people of the world to rise up and throw off the chains of American Imperialism. Since the US has spent a lot of blood and money forming a democratic government (that supposedly is peopled by its puppets), one would normally presume that sectarian war would be the worst thing the US could imagine. But nooooooo, not if you are the Great Satan (see my published conversation between the Great Satan and an "in-the-know" Arab)
Even Raed Jarrar is hawking this theory. Remember that, from the very beginning, Raed has been predicting an Iraqi-on-Iraqi civil war that would force the US from the region (I'd love to link to the first instance of it, but since Raed's move to one of the most expensive cities in the US, the post has faced a Stalin-like purge). But now? Oh no! This isn't the one he was talking about. This civil war is the US's doing. Eagle at Truth has posted on an interview Raed gave at Democracy Now! Eagle thinks this theory is so ludicrous even DN! doesn't want to be associated with it. I'm sorry, but I'm not believing that there is a Great Satan Theory that DN! won't buy.
Ladybird and Truth-About-Iraqis are flogging this theory too. You know, maybe you can't learn much about the quality of a book by who is quoted on the blurbs. But I believe the opposite is true for conspiracy theories.
The "Iraq Is Lost" conclusion is founded on the premise that "a civil war among the Iraqis is inevitable". This has been a popular theory among the White Flag Democrats and the Lindberg Republicans. It has also been a popular theory among anyone in the world who has wanted Iraq to fail. It's convenient. If Iraq's failure is inevitable; if the Iraqis have "a right" to a civil war; then it is not "defeatism" to say that no one can save Iraq from disaster and the best thing is for the US to get out of the way, stop prolonging the inevitable, and let the bodies in Iraq pile up as high as they can so they can be laid at the feet of George W. Bush. Hahahahaha!
However, American Conservative icon, William F. Buckley (a perpetual iconoclast) has declared the war lost:
Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols.
The Iraqi bloggers who weren't predicting Iraq's failure before aren't doing it now (with one exception). This isn't surprising. What alternative do they have? For them, Iraq has to succeed (but I sense many are afraid to hope as well). The thing is, though, that America is in the same boat. After 9-11, we could have done what Europe has been doing: Sit back and hope Takfirism stopped spreading on its own and that Middle Eastern/Muslim marginalization would stop its inexorable march to turning the region into a garden of hate, or kick over one of the worst actors in of heart of the region and attempt to remake the place from there. Option One was a fool's proposition to begin with. It is doubly so now.
24 Steps To Liberty sees Iraqis coming together (February 23rd & 25th). The wise IraqPundit says of the gleeful reports of inevitable open civil war:
Those who have followed the Iraq story carefully might recall that if we were to believe press reports, there would have been no constitution written, there would have been no elections, and the Sunnis would never have joined the government.
Coming back to the logical Ali, if Theory 1 is correct, then Ali is also one step ahead of The Return Party: He says a little civil war might not be a bad thing for Iraq as long as the US does not pull out. Also, check out his post on the much maligned INS Party (Chalabi's secular Shi'a-dominated party).