FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Shias May Now Turn on US Forces

by PATRICK COCKBURN

in Arbil, Iraq.

In a crescendo of violence in Iraq, a suicide bomber killed 40 army recruits in Mosul as Shia leaders reacted furiously to a US-Iraqi raid on a mosque which they claim killed 37 people. A further 21 bodies were found in and around Baghdad, some with nooses around their necks.

The suicide bomber blew himself up yesterday in a recruitment centre near a joint Iraqi-American military base, with the usual devastating results for the unemployed young men waiting for a job in the armed forces.

The killing of what the Americans say were 16 “insurgents”, and what Shias claim were 37 unarmed worshippers in the Mustafa mosque, may turn out to be a turning point in the three-year-old Iraq crisis. Iraq’s Shias, 60 per cent of the population, have hitherto largely co-operated with American occupation while Sunni Arabs have resisted. But the Shias increasingly see the US as trying to deny them power despite the electoral success of its Alliance.

Shia leaders demanded yesterday that the US return overall control of security to the Iraqi government. Jawad al-Maliki, a senior spokesman and ally of Iraq’s Prime Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, said: “The Alliance calls for a rapid restoration of (control of) security matters to the Iraqi government”. Negotiations on forming a new government were cancelled by the Shias while President Jalal Talabani said the US had agreed “to form an Iraqi-American committee to investigate the attack”.

Critics of the killings at the mosque included the most powerful members of the Iraqi government. “Entering the Mustafa Shia mosque and killing worshippers was unjustified and a horrible violation from my point of view”, Bayan Jabr, the Interior Minister, told Al-Arabiya television. “Innocent people inside the mosque offering prayer at sunset were killed.”

The US is now caught up in a growing confrontation with Iraq’s 15 million Shias. The governor of Baghdad, Hussein Tah-an, said the city’s provincial council had cut ties to the US military and diplomatic mission, “because of the cowardly attack on the al-Mustafa mosque”.

A US spokesman denied that a mosque had been entered but reporters who visited the scene yesterday said the site of the killings was a Shia mosque complex. The local police said shots had been fired at a joint US-Iraqi patrol but not from the mosque. They confirmed the claim by Shia leaders that all the dead, whom they estimated to number 22, were in the complex for evening prayers and none were gunmen.

The US-Iraqi special forces were patrolling an area loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr, the nationalist cleric, who has a huge following. An Iraqi political scientist said: “The mosque incident was the Americans trying to de-claw Muqtada al-Sadr. The Americans want to show they are the most powerful force on the ground. But this will encourage Iraqis to support Sadr.”

The US fought Mr Sadr’s militia twice in 2004 but the confrontations served only to add to his popularity.

The Shias were already suspicious of US efforts to force them to accept a national unity government whose composition goes against the election results. The US, UK and the Gulf Arab states want Iraq’s government to include Iyad Allawi in a powerful position although he only won 25 out of the 275 seats in parliament. The US now faces the prospect of hostility from the Shia, the community from which most of the Iraqi army and police are recruited.

 

 

 

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

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 23, 2017
Dave Brotherton
Trump, Moral Panics and Resistance
Jonathan Cook
One State: Trump Has Reminded Palestinians What It Was Always About
Bill Quigley
Ten Examples of Direct Resistance to Stop Government Raids
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigot Boy Business: Trump Exposes His Ignorance and Intolerance, Again
John W. Whitehead
The Illusion of Freedom: the Police State Is Alive and Well
Ralph Nader
Restricting People’s Use of Their Courts
David Macaray
Women As Labor Union Organizers
Kathy Kelly
Friendship in Defiance of War
Doug Weir
Why Did the US Use Depleted Uranium Weapons in Syria?
Steve Horn
Former GOP Congressional Staffer Follows Revolving Door, Now Latest Keystone XL Lobbyist
Binoy Kampmark
From Rights to Repentance: Norma McCorvey and Roe v Wade
Thomas Knapp
The Target of the “Border Adjustment Tax” is You
Chris Zinda
Open Letter to Neoliberal Environmentalists
February 22, 2017
Mike Whitney
Liberals Beware: Lie Down With Dogs, Get Up With Fleas
John Grant
On Killers and Bullshitters*
Peter Linebaugh
Catherine Despard, Abolitionist
Patrick Cockburn
The Bitter Battle for Mosul
Ted Rall
Sue the Bastards? It’s Harder Than You Think
Yoav Litvin
The Emergence of the Just Jew
Kim Scipes
Strategic Thinking and Organizing Resistance
Norman Pollack
Mar-a-Lago, Ideological Refuge: Berchtesgaden, II
Fred Donner
Nixon and the Chennault Affair: From Vietnam to Watergate
Carl Kandutsch
Podesta vs. Trump
Ike Nahem
To the Memory of Malcolm X: Fifty Years After His Assassination
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Tough Talk Won’t Fix Chicago
Paul Donnelly
Betsy DeVos and the War on Public Education
Ebony Slaughter-Johnson
The End of an Alliance for Police Reform
Richard Lawless
Wall Street Demanded the Nuclear Option and the Congress Delivered
Liaquat Ali Khan
Yes, Real Donald Trump is a Muslim!
Ryan LaMothe
“Fire” and Free Speech
CounterPunch News Service
Bloody Buffalo Billboards
February 21, 2017
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Finance as Warfare: the IMF Lent to Greece Knowing It Could Never Pay Back Debt
CJ Hopkins
Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
John Wight
Firestarter: the Unwelcome Return of Tony Blair
Roger Harris
Lenin Wins: Pink Tide Surges in Ecuador…For Now
Shepherd Bliss
Japanese American Internment Remembered, as Trump Rounds Up Immigrants
Boris Kagarlitsky
Trump and the Contradictions of Capitalism
Robert Fisk
The Perils of Trump Addiction
Deepak Tripathi
Theresa May: Walking the Kingdom Down a Dark Alley
Sarah Anderson
To Save Main Street, Tax Wall Street
Howard Lisnoff
Those Who Plan and Enjoy Murder
Franklin Lamb
The Life and Death Struggle of the Children of Syria
Binoy Kampmark
A Tale of Two Realities: Trump and Israel
Kim C. Domenico
Body and Soul: Becoming Men & Women in a Post-Gender Age
Mel Gurtov
Trump, Europe, and Chaos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail