It’s not difficult to feel sorry for Pfc. Keith Maupin, 20, shown today as a captive of the Iraqi resistance on al-Jazeera TV. It’s not difficult to feel sorry for him as a frightened human who may soon lose his life or suffer years as a captive in the hell-hole the US government has made of Iraq.
If you want to blame somebody, blame Donald Rumsfeld or George Bush. Certainly blame the traitorous neocons and their criminal institutions. Blame them for conspiring to ruin a country and kill thousands of innocent people. Blame them for throwing Keith Maupin in harm’s way.
"Most of the recent kidnappings appear to have been carried out by Sunni militant groups, though a few foreigners have been taken by Shiites in the south," reports the Bush Ministry of Disinformation, Fox News division. "U.S. officials are struggling to determine whether there is a central hand behind the various hostage-takers."
We are informed by various corporate ministries calling themselves the free press there is a "central hand" in the Iraqi uprising against occupation. But there is no "central hand." It is a collective hand, the hand of an ever-increasing number of Iraqis suffering under a brutal and illegal occupation. Sure, the military aspect of the resistance most assuredly has a "central hand" — as do all military operations — but the resistance itself is not centrally organized. It is a predictable human response to tyranny and the devastation inflicted by the United States government and the corporations that own Bush and Congress and tell them what to do.
Muqtada al-Sadr is ready to become a martyr and the US is eager to make him one. Like an quick-tempered cowboy who believes he has an outlaw cornered, Rumsfeld and his generals are itching to enter the holy city of Najaf and do a repeat of Fallujah where a still undetermined number of civilians were slaughtered last week for the crime of resisting the occupation and killing four hapless mercenaries.
If not for the warnings of the marjaiya — the four top Shia clerics, including Grand Ayat Allah Ali al-Sistani — the US would have likely crossed the "red line" and gone after al-Sadr with predictable and terrible loss of innocent life. "But if they pursue this option, then this will have very grave consequences because these two cities [Najaf and Karbala] are red lines that can’t be crossed," warned Abd Mahdi al-Karbala’i, al-Sistani’s representative in Karbala, in his weekly prayer sermon at the Imam Husayn shrine. "We are calling for peaceful solutions, but if the coalition forces are to cross the red line, then will take a different stronger position."
For now the US is stalled outside of Najaf, mulling its options.
The Pentagon understands well that if it attacks either city this will incite the whole of the Shi’ite community against the occupation. As it now stands, only al-Sadr’s al-Mahdi Army militia, numbering a few thousand at the most, are attacking the US along with the Sunnis to the north. If the US violates the holiest cities of Shia Islam — and as the invasion of Fallujah has demonstrated, such an invasion will not only result in a large number of dead civilians put the bombing of mosques as well — there will be no turning back for the United States: it will be compelled to either leave Iraq or, more likely with perfidious neocons at Pentagon’s helm, it will unleash massive and relentless firepower on the people of Iraq.
The Iranians have offered to mediate the crisis but General Richard Myers, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, has declared their involvement "unacceptable," even though Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi has stated that Washington made a formal request for Iran’s help through the Swiss embassy in Tehran. Myers’ unwillingness to have the Iranians negotiate a settlement is understandable considering the neocons want to do to Iran what the US military did to Fallujah. For its offer to mediate the crisis, an Iranian diplomat, Khalil Naimi, was assassinated in central Baghdad on Thursday, an event the Iranian delegation said was "most certainly related to this visit." Is it possible Naimi’s assassination was accomplished by the Israeli-trained death squads tutored at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the headquarters of the US Special Forces?
Meanwhile, according to al-Jazeera, 150 kilometers of roadway from Baghdad and Fallujah are under the control of the resistance.
"Resistance fighters have set up check points along the route as they take on security functions in the area west of the Iraqi capital," reports Muhammad Abu Nasr. "On the road that follows a branch of the Tigris River, dozens of heavily armed Resistance fighters backed by still others were deployed behind earthen barricades in a permanent state of readiness… [Mujahideen] have set up the check points because they hope to take captive every foreigner of any nationality participating in the war who passes along the road… Taxi drivers report that the road from Baghdad to Amman [Jordan] is now a road for foreigners as other countries and companies are responding to the hostage taking phenomenon by calling on their citizens and employees to leave occupied Iraq in short order."
Feel sorry for Keith Maupin. Thanks to Bush, Maupin is yet another victim, as are all the other captives and, especially, the innocent dead of Fallujah, Baghdad, and other besieged cities of Iraq. Feel sorry for the more than 10,000 civilians killed since Bush told his lies and invaded, violating international law and the Geneva Conventions. Blame not only Bush and the neocons. Blame as well, and possibly primarily, the American people for supporting Bush. 50 percent of Americans, according to a recent Gallup poll, believe "all in all" the invasion was worth it. Blame them for Bush’s Sabra and Shatilla massacre.
Of course, early next year, as Bush or Kerry urge Congress to reactivate the draft and "stay the course" in Iraq and more and more soldiers arrive home in "transport tubes" (coffins) at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the American people may change their minds.
In the meantime, more Iraqis will die and the "central hand" of the resistance will continue to fight until Bush and the Pentagon are forced to leave.
Let us hope it will be sooner before later.
KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent no holds barred blog at www.kurtnimmo.com/blogger.html . 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: firstname.lastname@example.org