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Shi’a Will to Power

by KURT NIMMO

Ironically, the Bushites will eventually regret getting rid of Saddam Hussein. In short order, Iraq will turn from a Ba’athist dictatorship into a Muslim theocracy. It’s happening now, even with the US occupation. On Saturday tens of thousands of Shi’ite Muslims trekked on foot to the holy city of Karbala to mark the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. It was the first time in more than 30 years Shi’ites have been able to hold the traditional march, which was banned by Saddam Hussein.

Increasingly, the Shi’ites of Iraq say they will rise up against the Americans if they don’t quit the occupation and leave. Thousands of Iraqis have taken to the streets in the last few days to protest and demand the US get out. “We reject this foreign occupation, which is a new imperialism,” Sheikh Kaazem al-Abahadi al-Nasari said at the mausoleum of Imam Hussein. “We don’t need the Americans. They’re here to control our oil.” Anti-American speeches were delivered by Shi’a imams at hundreds of mosques throughout Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq. At the al-Hikma mosque in Sadr City, formerly Saddam City, more than 50,000 people jammed the mosque and surrounding streets. “This form of government would be worse than that of Saddam Hussein,” declared Sheikh Mohammed Fartusi.

According to AFP, Reuters, AP, al-Jazeera, al-Arayiba and Abu Dhabi, more than 200,000 Iraqis demonstrated following Friday prayers. Not only Shi’as and Sunnis marched, but also members of professional associations, small merchants, former Ba’ath Party members and students, some of them from the left wing Iraqi National Liberation Front. Much of this activity went unreported in the US.

Meanwhile, foreign ministers in Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Egypt and Bahrain released a joint statement calling for US and British forces to establish security in Iraq and then leave the country as soon as possible. The ministers also called on the United Nations to take a central role in a post-war Iraq.

This isn’t what the Bushites and the neocons have in mind.

As former CIA director James Woolsey characterizes it, the US is engaged in “World War IV,” which will “last considerably longer than either World Wars I or II.” The enemies in this war, according to Woolsey, are the rulers of Iran, the “fascist” rulers of Iraq and Syria and groups such as al-Qaeda. “We want you nervous. We want you to realize now, for the fourth time in 100 years, this country and its allies are on the march and that we are on the side of those whom you — the Mubaraks, the Saudi royal family — most fear. We’re on the side of your people.”

Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Iraqis don’t see it that way. Countless numbers of Shi’a Muslims, like Imam Hussein before them, are ready to become martyrs in the name of Islam. All it will take is the appropriate fatwa issued by a respected imam.

Norman Podhoretz, editor-at-large of Commentary magazine, believes this tidal wave of Muslim activism can be snuffed out if the American people find “the stomach to impose a new political culture on the defeated parties.” But are the American people ready for World War IV? “Many Americans reluctantly supported the attack on Iraq because they truly believed that it would make America safer and Iraqis freer,” write Ali Abunimah and Hussein Ibish. “Precious few have willingly signed up for a new, catastrophic and completely unnecessary global confrontation with Islam.”

Regardless of what the American people want, the Bushites are pushing hard to confront Islam on all fronts. Last month PNAC (the Project for the New American Century) released a letter signed by 23 prominent neocons. “Any early fixation on exit strategies and departure deadlines will undercut American credibility and greatly diminish the prospects for success,” the letter stated. “Everyone — those who have joined the coalition, those who have stood aside, those who opposed military action, and, most of all, the Iraqi people and their neighbors — must understand that we are committed to the rebuilding of Iraq and will provide the necessary resources and will remain for as long as it takes.”

In other words, if PNAC and the neocons have their way — and they have up until now — the US will not leave Iraq anytime soon. In fact, they are preparing to march and bomb their way across the entire map of the Middle East and Central Asia, or wherever irksome Muslims amass.

“There is little question about the source of PNAC’s influence,” writes Jim Lobe. “When it was founded in 1997 by two prominent neoconservatives, William Kristol and Robert Kagan, its charter, which called for a U.S. strategy of global pre-eminence based on military power, was signed by men who would become the most influential hawks in the Bush administration, including Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, and Cheney’s influential national security adviser, I. Lewis Libby.”

For the neocons, Iraq is but one battle in a war Bush said will last for a generation or more. World War IV, according to the neocons, began with the invasion of Afghanistan. “When all is said and done, the conflict in Afghanistan will be to the war on terrorism what the North Africa campaign was to World War II: an essential beginning on the path to victory,” write William Kristol and Robert Kagan. “But compared with what looms over the horizon — a wide-ranging war in locales from Central Asia to the Middle East and, unfortunately, back again to the United States — Afghanistan will prove but an opening battle…. But this war will not end in Afghanistan. It is going to spread and engulf a number of countries in conflicts of varying intensity. It could well require the use of American military power in multiple places simultaneously. It is going to resemble the clash of civilizations that everyone has hoped to avoid.”

The Bushites may talk of “liberation” and “democracy” in the Arab Middle East, but their real intention is more purposeful and ambitious. It has nothing to do with democracy and everything to do with confronting and enervating Islam.

On November 20, 2002, Eliot Cohen wrote in the Wall Street Journal: “The enemy in this war is not ‘terrorism’… but militant Islam… Afghanistan constitutes just one front in World War IV, and the battles there just one campaign.” Kristol and Kagan again, from their book The War Over Iraq: “The mission begins in Baghdad, but it does not end there… We stand at the cusp of a new historical era… This is a decisive moment… It is so clearly about more than Iraq. It is about more even than the future of the Middle East and the war on terror. It is about what sort of role the United States intends to play in the twenty-first century.”

Bush may make threatening gestures in the general direction of Syria, but the preferred target is Iran, the font of Shi’a Islam. “As a Shia power,” notes Robert Dreyfuss of the American Prospect, “Iran has vast influence among the Shi’a majority in Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain, with the large Shi’a population in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich eastern province and among the warlords of western Afghanistan. And Iran’s ties to the violent Hezbollah guerrillas, whose anti-American zeal can only be inflamed by the occupation of Iraq, will give the Bush administration all the reason it needs to expand the war on terrorism to Tehran.”

Before they can move on to Iran, however, the Bushites need to deal with the Shi’a Muslims in Iraq. It was initially assumed the Shi’as, long oppressed by Saddam Hussein, would welcome the Anglo-American “coalition” forces and garland them with flowers. Naturally, this didn’t happen, and for good reason — the Shi’ites of southern Iraq were betrayed by Dubya’s father after he called on them to revolt against Saddam Hussein and then abandoned them in the wake of the Gulf War. Not only have Iraqi Shi’ites — who comprise nearly two-thirds of the country — refused to welcome the US as liberators, they consider them invaders and infidel Crusaders determined to eviscerate Islam and steal Iraq’s oil. Considering the loose talk and malicious saber-rattling of the Bush neocons — and the fact they intend to install malleable puppets to lord over the people of Iraq — these assumptions are hardly unwarranted. One such rubber stamped puppet, the exile Abdul Majid al-Khoei, was hacked to death at the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf on April 17.

Meanwhile, the feverish neocons continue to entertain their fantasies of conquest and domination. “Despite liberal, socialist, nationalist, and Islamist political factions, a clear majority [of Iraqis] appear to favor a secular democracy,” write Hussain Hindawi and John R. Thomson in the National Review. “Of greater concern is the division between a virulent minority calling for jihad in the event ‘infidel U.S. and British invaders’ show any inclination to prolonged occupation and groups like the Tehran-based Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq led by Baker al-Hakim, who have allied themselves with Washington.” It’s safe to say many Iraqis realize al-Hakim shares a cozy relationship with “Iraqi opposition” groups organized by the CIA. No doubt most wouldn’t lose any sleep if al-Hakim went the way of Abdul Majid al-Khoei.

Bush and the neocons will never allow free elections or participatory democracy in Iraq — the result would almost certainly be fundamentalist religious parties harmonized against the US master plan for Islam and the Middle East. In order to see their mission through, the Bushite neocons will attempt to occupy Iraq indefinitely. This will be impossible.

“Drawing upon British experiences in Malaysia and Rhodesia, the force ratio of army forces to guerilla forces needed for merely containing guerilla resistance, let alone defeating a guerilla force, is about 20 to 1,” explains Henry C K Liu. “US estimates of the size of Iraq’s guerilla force stands at 100,000 for the time being. This means the US would need a force of 2 million to contain the situation even if it already controls the country.”

In the months ahead, as Bush gears up for his re-election, guerilla resistance to US occupation of Iraq will redouble. “How [Saddam Hussein] was removed,” writes Geov Parrish, “sows the seeds of a much longer and by definition unwinnable war — one which goes a long way toward fulfilling the bin Laden fantasy of a pan-national Islamic guerilla war against America.” Soon the question will be — as more and more young Americans die in a futile effort to put down the pan-national Islamic guerilla war Parrish describes — does the American public have the “stomach” (as Norman Podhoretz deems it) for the escalating cost of the neocon war against Islam and the Arab people? Bush and the neocons may smirk and declare the Vietnam Syndrome dead, but the arrival of ever increasing flag-draped coffins eventually turns the tide against war, especially if that war rests on a foundation of lies and carelessly crafted and shifting fabrications.

“Roughly comparable wars of the last 50 years have not helped presidents, and in some cases have really hurt them,” historian Alan Brinkley of Columbia University told the St. Petersburg Times. “There are so many ways a war can go badly.” If thousands of enraged Iraqis filling the streets of Baghdad, Basra, Karbala, Najaf and other Iraqi cities last week are any indication, Bush’s invasion is already going bad. In fact, by the time the presidential election rolls around next year, it may go so bad as to deny him a second term. If Bush is indeed thrown out of the White House, the malevolent neocons will be obliged to go with him.

If that happens, it will surely be reason to celebrate.

KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent online gallery. He can be reached at: nimmo@zianet.com

We highly recommend regular visits to Nimmo’s website, Another Day in the Empire

 

KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent no holds barred blog at www.kurtnimmo.com/ . Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. A collection of his essays for CounterPunch, Another Day in the Empire, is now available from Dandelion Books. He can be reached at: nimmo@zianet.com

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