FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

War Crime in a Mosque

by PATRICK COCKBURN

Arbil, Iraq.

US forces killed 22 people and wounded eight at a mosque in east Baghdad in an incident likely to lead to increased tensions with the Shia community. Police said the US troops had retaliated after coming under fire.

Videotape showed a heap of male bodies with gunshot wounds on the floor of the Imam’s living quarters in what was said to be the Al Mustafa mosque. There were 5.56mm shell casings on the floor, which is the type of ammunition used by US soldiers. A weeping man in white Arab robes is shown stepping among the bodies.

At the office of Dawa, the party of the Prime Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Haidar al-Obaidi, a senior Dawa official, said: “The lives of Iraqis are not cheap. If the American blood is valuable to them, the Iraqi blood is valuable to us.”

The US military would neither confirm not deny the incident but the US army in Iraq has been strongly criticized over the past week for killing Iraqi civilians and falsely claiming that they were insurgents or caught in cross fire.

The shooting took place in a neighborhood dominated by the Mehdi Army militia of the nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and some of those who died may have belonged to his movement. Salam al-Maliki, an official of the Sadr bloc, said that a hospital to which the wounded had been taken was later surrounded by US troops.

Hazin al-Araji, an aide to Mr Sadr, claimed: “The American forces went into the Mustafa mosque at prayers and killed more than 20 worshippers. They tied them up and shot them.”

The killings may mark another step in the deteriorating relations between the US and Iraq’s Shia community, 60 per cent of the population. Shia leaders fear that the US is trying to rob them of the fruits of their success in the election on December 15 when the Shia coalition won 130 out of 275 seats. Another US military move likely to be resented was a raid yesterday on a building of the Interior Ministry, controlled by Shias, in the mistaken belief that it was a torture centre. It turned out to contain 17 Sudanese legally detained for breach of residency laws who had not been mistreated.

The US is desperately seeking to pressure Iraqi politicians into forming a national unity government to reverse the country’s slide into sectarian civil war. The US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, asked the Iraqi leadership to “overcome the strife that threatens to rip apart Iraq” . Forty, bodies, some beheaded, were found yesterday in Baghdad and Baquba. The prolonged failure to form a government underlines the deep fissures dividing the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish communities and make it unlikely that national unity government would be effective. Even before last night’s events the Shia coalition resented the campaign by President Jalal Talabani, supported by the US and UK, to get rid of Mr Jaafari as Prime Minister. The US and UK want Sunni politicians, as well as Iyad Allawi, to be members of a new administration.

“The US and UK were shocked that the Shia coalition did so well,” said a participant in the negotiations to form a government. “Since then they hoped it would split. But the Shia parties have stuck behind Jaafari … Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and the Hawza [Shia religious hierarchy] are for Shia unity and the Iranians want the coalition to stay together.”

The present government, formed following the election on January 30 last year, is a Shia-Kurdish alliance. One Kurdish observer said: “For the Kurds it would be suicidal to side with the Sunni and Iyad Allawi because they would alienate 60 per cent of the population.”

 

 

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

May 03, 2016
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
Nicolas J S Davies
Escalating U.S. Air Strikes Kill Hundreds of Civilians in Mosul, Iraq
Binoy Kampmark
Class, Football, and Blame: the Hillsborough Disaster Inquest
George Wuerthner
The Economic Value of Yellowstone National Park
Rivera Sun
Celebrating Mother Jones
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir and Postcolonialism
Mairead Maguire
Drop the Just War Theory
Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail