Tuesday was an apocalyptic day in Iraq. I am not normally exactly
sanguine about the situation there. But the atmospherics are very, very
bad, in a way that most Western observers will miss.
Juan Cole worries that Iraqi's
in considering how the fate
of the Askariya Shrine in Samarra
might cause the country to unravel ...
started out with a protest by ten thousand people in the Shiite holy
city of Karbala, against the Danish caricatures of the Prophet
Muhammad. These days, Shiites are weeping, mourning and flagellating in
commemoration of the martyrdom of the Prophet's grandson, Imam Husayn.
So it is an emotional time in the ritual calendar. when feelings can
easily be whipped up about issues like insults to the Prophet. An
anti-Danish demonstration in Karbala is a surrogate for anti-American
and anti-occupation sentiment. The US won't be able to stay in Iraq
withiut increasing trouble of this sort.
Then guerrillas set off
a huge bomb in a Shiite corner of the mostly Sunni Arab Dura quarter of
Baghdad, killing 22 and wounding 28. Another 9 were killed in other
violence around Iraq. These attacks are manifestations of an
unconventional civil war.
Then real disaster struck. The
guerriillas blew up the domed Askariyah shrine in Samarra. The shrine,
sacred to Shiiites, honors 3 Imams or holy descendants of the Prophet.
They are Ali al-Hadi, Hasan al-Askari, and his disappeared son Muhammad
al-Mahdi. Thousands of Shiiites demonnstrated in Samarra and in East
Baghdad, against this desecration.
The Twelfh Imam or Mahdi is
believed by Shiites to have disappeared into a supernatural realm (just
as Christians believe in the ascension of Christ) from which he will
someday return. Some Shiites think his second coming is
imminent. Muqtada all-Sadr and his followers are among them. They are
livid about this attack on the shrine of the Mahdi's father.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also a firm believer in the imminent
coming of the Mahdi. I worry that Iranian anger will boil over as a
result of this bombing of a Shiite millenarian symbol.
Both Sunnis and Americans will be blamed. Very bad. Baghdad Burning says tensions are high and Things are not good in Baghdad.
The mosque damaged with explosives today is the âAskari Mosqueâ which
is important because it is believed to be the burial place of two of
the 12 Shia Imams- Ali Al-Hadi and Hassan Al-Askari (father and son)
who lived and died in Samarra. The site of the mosque is believed to be
where Ali Al-Hadi and Hassan Al-Askari lived and were buried. Many Shia
believe Al-Mahdi âal muntadharâ will also be resurrected or will
reappear from this mosque.
We woke up this morning to news that men wearing
Iraqi security uniforms walked in and detonated explosives, damaging
the mosque almost beyond repair. Itâs heart-breaking and terrifying.
There has been gunfire all over Baghdad since morning. The streets near
our neighborhood were eerily empty and calm but there was a tension
that had us all sitting on edge. We heard about problems in areas like
Baladiyat where there was some rioting and vandalism, etc. and several
mosques in Baghdad were attacked. I think what has everyone most
disturbed is the fact that the reaction was so swift, like it was just
waiting to happen.
All morning weâve been hearing/watching both
Shia and Sunni religious figures speak out against the explosions and
emphasise that this is what is wanted by the enemies of Iraq- this is
what they would like to achieve- divide and conquer. Extreme Shia are
blaming extreme Sunnis and Iraq seems to be falling apart at the seams
under foreign occupiers and local fanatics.
No one went to work
today as the streets were mostly closed. The situation isnât good at
all. I donât think I remember things being this tense- everyone is just
watching and waiting quietly. Thereâs so much talk of civil war and
yet, with the people I know- Sunnis and Shia alike- I can hardly
believe it is a possibility. Educated, sophisticated Iraqis are
horrified with the idea of turning against each other, and even
not-so-educated Iraqis seem very aware that this is a small part of a
bigger, more ominous planâ¦
Several mosques have been taken over
by the Mahdi militia and the Badir people seem to be everywhere.
Tomorrow no one is going to work or college or anywhere.
People are scared and watchful. We can only pray.
I see Bill O'Reilly says we should get the hell out of Iraq as soon as
possible. He says there is to many crazies over there and America
underestimated them. More evidence that the decision to invade Iraq is one of the largest strategic mistakes in U.S. history and in the military history of the world.
Can we redeploy the troops soon? Really? No threat to the US, and now Civil War? Well, who could have
seen that coming? There were reports of flowers, and certainly no
history of ethnic strife... Is this another Rove plot to get Portgate off the front page news? I doubt it. Irational as the wingnut opposition on the ports deal is, I
can't imagine Arabs blowing up Muslim holy sites is going to make the
angry parts of the base any less upset about Arabs running operation of
Looking forward to learning how this is all really the Dem's and/or
MSM's fault. Or how civil war in Iraq is part of Bush's grand plan to
protect us ("If they're killing each other over there, they can't kill
us over here.")Redstate.com, do your thing BUT this Iraq tipping point could mean that the same-old propaganda and spin won't work in the next election!!
If you have a moderately large third world country that requires much
of the combat power of the US military to (fail to) suppress a largely
domestic insurgency, then I think that is irrefutable evidence that
there is, in fact, a civil war taking place. The only question is whether the civil war will remain low-grade or whether it will spiral into something truly ugly.
As everyone knows, millions of us - MILLIONS -
said the threat assessment was overstated, the war would be easy and
the postwar difficult, and that a civil war was the likely outcome.
So now some of us are bitter, some are angry, some sad, but not one of
us is happy that george bush and dick cheney led us down this path, and
not one of us is celebrating that we knew what we were talking about
and the pundits and the president didn't.
I am unsurprised by the violent reaction to this despicable crime,
because the fundamental dispute between Shiites and Sunnis outrageously
spawns hatred, nonstop. I am unsurprised, therefore, by the reprisal
attacks at Sunni mosques.
As a Shiite, I am shocked, however, at the murder of three Sunni journalists
in Samarra. They were covering the bombing in the Askari shrine for the
al-Arabiya TV network when they were kidnapped by gunmen. Their bodies
were discovered the following day.
Nobody knows who have
murdered them, so we can't learn about the killers' motives, but I
really like to know why journalists were targeted. Either Shiites
slaughtered them to take revenge because the anchorwoman of the team
has been so popular in Iraq. Or Sunni insurgents have committed this
crime to foment more violence or possibly a civil war.
During the cartoon crisis, we said the freedom of speech must respect
religious sanctities to avoid inciting hatred, but what should we do
when religious hatred butchers freedom of speech?