'Fooling' U.S. Military
By Dahr Jamail &
13 February, 2007
NAJAF, Iraq, Feb
12 (IPS) - New evidence is emerging on the ground of an Iranian
hand in growing violence within Iraq.
As the United States heads
for a confrontation with Iran over allegations of Iranian involvement
in bombings, the massacre in Najaf last month indicates that Iran could
be working also through the Iraqi government, local leaders in Najaf
The slaughter of 263 people
in Najaf by Iraqi and U.S. forces Jan. 29 provoked outrage and vows
of revenge among residents in and around the sacred Shia city in the
south. The killings have deepened a split among Shias.
Iran is predominantly Shia,
one of the two main groupings within Islam along with the Sunnis. Iraq
has for the first time a Shia-dominated government, comprising groups
that have been openly supportive of Iran.
The people killed were mostly
Shias from the Hawatim tribe that opposes the Supreme Council for Islamic
Revolution in Iraq as well as the Dawa Party. These two pro-Iranian
groups control the local government in Najaf and the government in Baghdad.
The Najaf attack has provoked
strong reactions among members of the Hawatim tribe and among other
Shia groups who are not loyal to Iran - and who became the target in
An attack on a local tribal
leader led to an assault on members of the tribe by U.S., British and
Iraqi forces. The tribe was described by government officials as a "messianic
Abid Ali who witnessed the
Najaf fighting told IPS that a procession of roughly 200 pilgrims from
the Hawatim tribe had arrived in the Zarqa area near Najaf to celebrate
the Ashura festival. Following a confrontation over the procession,
Iraqi army soldiers at a checkpoint shot dead Hajj Sa'ad Sa'ad Nayif
al-Hatemi, chief of the tribe, as he and his wife sat in their car.
Members of the tribe then
attacked the checkpoint to avenge the death of their chief.
"It was after this that
the Iraqi army called in the Americans, and the planes began bombing
civilians," Ali said. "It was a massacre. Now I believe the
internal Shia fighting has entered a very dangerous phase."
Ali added that most people
in the area believe the U.S. military was told by Iraqi security forces
loyal to the pro-Iranian government in Baghdad that "terrorists"
or the "messianic cult" was attacking Najaf. They say the
misinformation was intended to mislead occupation forces into attacking
Many Shias in the southern
parts of the country and in Baghdad now say they had been fooled earlier
by U.S. promises to help them, but that the Najaf massacre has dramatically
changed their views.
Significantly, the Association
of Muslim Scholars, a group of Sunni Muslims headed by Dr. Harith al-Dhari,
issued a statement condemning the Iraqi-U.S. military attack in Najaf
against the Hawatim tribe. The statement, which seeks to bridge a Shia-Sunni
divide, denounced the killing of dozens of women and children and added,
"It was an act of vengeance and political termination."
"They (the United States)
were misled, and their last move in Najaf shows how the smart Iranians
are leading the Americans deeper into Iraqi sands," Jaafar al-Jawadi,
a political analyst from Baghdad told IPS.
"I really admire the
way Iranians are dealing with the situation in a professional way while
the Americans are walking with their eyes closed. They are losing the
last Iraqi fort they were hiding behind, and that was the peaceful way
Arab Shias were dealing with occupation."
Jawadi who is also a former
Shia politician says he once believed in U.S. promises of liberation
for Iraqis, particularly the Shia population. Like many other Iraqis,
he now believes that the United States has been used by the pro-Iranian
government in Baghdad to carry out attacks against Shia tribes in southern
Iraq who have recently become more and more anti-occupation.
"I do not really understand
what those Americans are doing because now they are just like an elephant
in a china shop, and everything they do is terribly wrong as if they
are committing suicide," Talib Ahmad, a lawyer and human rights
activist in Najaf told IPS.
"Iran is benefiting
from that for sure. Americans are simply fighting for Iran who appears
to be the winner in Iraq after all."
Many Iraqis are amazed at
the unlimited support the U.S. administration has been presenting to
what many now call an Iranian-Iraqi government. The new U.S. condemnation
of Iran could be a first sign that the United States is getting wise
to the fact that it is being fooled by Iran.
The U.S. administration is,
however, pointing the finger at Iran, and not at the government in Baghdad
that it props up
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