Highlights

 
Quotable
What is more immoral than war?
Marquis de Sade
Original Letters Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
April 12, 2007

Now the South Erupts


by Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail

BASRA - The eruption of demonstrations in the south of Iraq this week could rob the occupation forces of what was considered a critical bastion of support.

The southern areas of Iraq have long been said to be secure, and people there peaceful towards the occupation forces. Iraqis living in the south were also believed to be cooperative with the occupation to the extent that they supported administrative steps taken by successive Iraqi governments.

The majority of the population of the south are Shi'ite Muslims, and Iraq has had Shi'ite-dominated governments under the occupation.

But demonstrations against the occupation and the United States by hundreds of thousands of angry Shi'ites in Najaf, Kut and other cities across the south Apr. 9 mark a sharp break from a policy of cooperation. Protesters demanded an end to the U.S.-led occupation, burnt U.S. flags and chanted "Death to America!"

Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim al-Mayahi, a police commander in Najaf, told reporters that at least half a million people joined the demonstration there.

Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, told reporters, "We say that we're here to support democracy. We say that free speech and freedom of assembly are part of that. While we don't necessarily agree with the message, we agree with their right to say it."

Clashes after the demonstration left at least one U.S. soldier dead and another wounded in Diwaniyah, 180 km south of Baghdad.

"We have been patient and we have sacrificed a lot thinking the situation would be better one day soon," Hussein Ali, a teacher from Diwaniyah told IPS. "The result we see now is that we were dragged into a swamp of hatred between brothers, and that all the bloodshed was for the sake of war leaders to get more power and fortune."

Fighting is continuing in Diwaniyah between the occupation forces and the Mahdi Army led by Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Additional U.S. and Iraqi troops have been brought into the city to make arrests and carry out door-to-door raids in search of illegal weapons and wanted militiamen.

Muqtada al-Sadr, quiet for a considerable period after clashing with U.S. troops early on in the occupation period, publicly called on his militia to attack occupation troops.

So far this month, five occupation troops have been killed every day on average, according to U.S. Department of Defense figures.

The new Shi'ite armed uprising, which appears to be in its early days, is a further blow to occupation forces that are already stretched thin.

"Four years of patience and what do we get?" Ali Hashim, a merchant from the southern city Basra told IPS. "We got nothing but the loss of our country to those who spoke a lot but did nothing. The United States failed us and sold us cheap to those who would have no mercy on us."

Mahmood al-Lamy, a historian from Basra told IPS the situation there was critical.

"Basra is the biggest southern city and the only Iraqi city that has a port near the Gulf. It is now controlled by various militias who fight each other from time to time over an oil smuggling business that is flourishing under the occupation."

Lamy said residents fear that "the situation here will be a lot worse in the coming months due to disputes that are appearing between major parties."

Lamy was referring to the withdrawal last month of the al-Fadhila Party from the Shi'ite Islamic Coalition Parliament Group, and the dismissal of two ministers from the al-Sadr movement as a punishment for contacting U.S. officials in Nasiriyah in southern Iraq.

The Shi'ite political group is increasingly divided over many issues, and it seems unlikely that it will hold together. But many of the groups are increasingly opposed to the occupation.

"We were late to realize that we were wrong about U.S. intentions," Salman Yassen of the Basra city municipality council told IPS. "We waited four years while U.S. and Iraqi authorities kept us busy fighting each other while they were setting the plan of stealing our oil and tearing our country apart so that their allies would feel safe."

Four years of the occupation of Iraq have seen many changes in U.S. strategies, ambassadors and tactics, but the changes may be too little, too late.

"The delay in moving politically has cost Iraq, the U.S. and many other countries a great deal," former Iraqi police colonel Ahmed Jabbar told IPS in Baghdad. "The least to be said is that the world would have been better off without this occupation and the catastrophic security disturbance it has caused."

(Inter Press Service)

comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • Police Bombings Raise New Fears
    8/1/2008

  • Most NGOs in Iraq Losing Face
    7/24/2008

  • Fallujah Braces for Another Assault
    7/22/2008

  • Unrest Surfaces in Fallujah Again
    7/17/2008

  • Iraq: The Love Stories Are Gone
    6/15/2008

  • 'Special Weapons' Have a Fallout on Babies in Fallujah
    6/13/2008

  • Corruption Eats Into Iraqis' Food Rations
    5/3/2008

  • Five Years On, Fallujah in Tatters
    4/15/2008

  • Iraq: From One Dictator to Another?
    4/14/2008

  • Iraqis: 'Surge' Is a Catastrophe
    2/23/2008

  • More Bombing Creates New Enemies
    2/9/2008

  • Iraqi Police and Army Sidelined by Sunni Fighters
    1/22/2008

  • Iraqis 'Awake' to a New Danger
    1/15/2008

  • Iraq Less Violent and Hellish Only in Numbers
    1/12/2008

  • Killer of US Soldiers Becomes Hero for Iraqis
    1/8/2008

  • US-Backed 'Awakening' Forces Arouse New Conflicts
    12/27/2007

  • Looking to Security from Paper Police
    12/20/2007

  • 'Bad' Women Raped and Killed in Southern Iraq
    12/19/2007

  • In Iraq, Not Even the Hajj is Free of Corruption
    12/14/2007

  • Iraqi Widows Become the Silent Tragedy
    12/8/2007

  • Refugees Caught Between Deportation and Death Threats
    12/7/2007

  • A Tenuous 'Peace' in Anbar
    11/30/2007

  • Detentions Escalate in Diwaniyah
    11/28/2007

  • Executions Not Leading to Iraqi Reconciliation
    11/23/2007

  • Shi'ite Infighting Increases Instability
    11/22/2007

  • Fallujah Now Under a Different Kind of Siege
    11/21/2007

  • Baghdad: A Tale of One City, Now Two
    11/13/2007

  • Fewer Deaths in Iraq Bring No Reassurance
    11/10/2007

  • When Blackwater Kills,
    No Questions Asked
    10/31/2007

  • Assassination of Sheikh Shakes US Claims
    10/20/2007

  • Back to School, Back to Horror
    9/15/2007

  • No Refuge Within or Outside the Country
    9/14/2007

  • Fighting Among Shi'ites Adds to Violence
    9/12/2007

  • Clerics Begin to Take Over Iraq
    9/11/2007

  • Samarra Under US Attack
    9/7/2007

  • With Donkeys for Transport, All Is Well
    9/6/2007

  • Families of Iraqi Detainees Losing Hope
    8/31/2007

  • Fallujah Finds a False Peace
    8/29/2007

  • Another US Military Operation, More Unrest
    8/23/2007

  • Between the Two Rivers, Lack of Water Kills
    8/18/2007

  • Iran Ties Weaken Iraqi Government Further
    8/14/2007

  • A Nail in Maliki Government's Coffin?
    8/4/2007

  • Iraq a Little Easier to Occupy From the Air
    8/1/2007

  • In Iraq, Soccer Succeeds Where Politics Fails
    7/28/2007

  • In Iraq, Partition Fears
    Begin to Rise
    7/17/2007

  • Operation Arrowhead Becomes Fountainhead of Anger
    7/11/2007

  • Curfew-Bound Fallujah
    On the Boil Again
    6/28/2007

  • Iraqis Skeptical After Second Shrine Attack
    6/21/2007

  • Iraqis Suffer Through Summer Without Electricity
    6/19/2007

  • US Losing Ground Through Tribal Allies
    6/16/2007

  • Iraqi Lawmaker Confirms Kurd-Shia Clashes in Baghdad
    6/10/2007

  • In Iraq, Broken Lives and Broken Hearts
    6/7/2007

  • Anger Builds in Fallujah Over Security Crackdown
    6/5/2007

  • Sick of Iraq's Government
    6/2/2007

  • Kurds and Shia Fight for Power in Baghdad
    5/30/2007

  • Curfew Begins to Choke Samarra
    5/23/2007

  • Iraqis Blame US Occupation for Bloody Week
    4/24/2007

  • Basra Splits Between Warring Shi'ites
    4/21/2007

  • Now the South Erupts
    4/12/2007

  • Iraqis Search for Political Leadership
    3/16/2007
  • Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail write for Inter Press Service.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2014 Antiwar.com