Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Iraq Stands on the Brink of Civil War

In Iraq, they go for the jugular: two weeks ago, the UN’s top man, last week one of the most influential Shia Muslim clerics. As they used to say in the Lebanese war, if enough people want you dead, you’ll die.

So who wanted Ayatollah Mohamed Bakr al-Hakim dead? Or, more to the point, who would not care if he died? Well, yes, there’s the famous “Saddam remnants” which the al-Hakim family are already blaming for the Najaf massacre. He was tortured by Saddam’s men and, after al-Hakim had gone into his Iranian exile, Saddam executed one of his relatives each year in a vain attempt to get him to come back. Then there’s the Kuwaitis or the Saudis who certainly don’t want his Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq to achieve any kind of “Islamic revolution” north of their border.

There are neo-conservatives aplenty in the United States who would never have trusted al-Hakim, despite his connections to the Iraqi Interim Council that the Americans run in Baghdad. Then there’s the Shias.

Only a couple of months ago, I remember listening to al-Hakim preaching at Friday prayers, demanding an end to the Anglo-American occupation but speaking of peace and demanding even that women should join the new Iraqi army. “Don’t think we all support this man,” a worshipper said to me.

Al-Hakim also had a bad reputation for shopping his erstwhile Iraqi colleagues to Iranian intelligence.

Then there’s Muqtada Sadr, the young–and much less learned–cleric whose martyred father has given him a cloak of heroism among younger Shias and who has long condemned “collaboration” with the American occupiers of Iraq; less well-known is his own organisation’s quiet collaboration with Saddam’s regime before the Anglo-American invasion.

Deeper than this singular dispute run the angry rivers of theological debate in the seminaries of Najaf, which never accepted the idea of velayat faqi–theological rule–espoused by Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran. Al-Hakim had called Khomeini, and his successor Ayatollah Khamanei, the “living Imam”. Al-Hakim also compared himself to the martyred imams Ali and Hussein, whose family had also been killed during the first years of Muslim history. This was a trite, even faintly sacrilegious way of garnering support.

The people of Najaf, for the most part, don’t believe in “living Imams” of this kind. But in the end, the bloodbath at Najaf–and the murder of Mohamed al-Hakim–will be seen for what it is: yet further proof that the Americans cannot, or will not, control Iraq. General Ricardo Sanchez, the US commander in Iraq, said only 24 hours earlier that he needed no more troops. Clearly, he does if he wishes to stop the appalling violence.

For what is happening, in the Sunni heartland around Baghdad and now in the burgeoning Shia nation to the south, is not just the back-draft of an invasion or even a growing guerrilla war against occupation. It is the start of a civil war in Iraq that will consume the entire nation if its new rulers do not abandon their neo-conservative fantasies and implore the world to share the future of the country with them.

More articles by:

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

October 18, 2018
Erik Molvar
The Ten Big Lies of Traditional Western Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lockheed and Loaded: How the Maker of Junk Fighters Like the F-22 and F-35 Came to Have Full-Spectrum Dominance Over the Defense Industry
Lawrence Davidson
Israel’s “Psychological Obstacles to Peace”
Brian Platt – Brynn Roth
Black-Eyed Kids and Other Nightmares From the Suburbs
John W. Whitehead
You Want to Make America Great Again? Start by Making America Free Again
Zhivko Illeieff
Why Can’t the Democrats Reach the Millennials?
Steve Kelly
Quiet, Please! The Latest Threat to the Big Wild
Manuel García, Jr.
The Inner Dimensions of Socialist Revolution
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ Over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Adam Parsons
A Global People’s Bailout for the Coming Crash
Binoy Kampmark
The Tyranny of Fashion: Shredding Banksy
Dean Baker
How Big is Big? Trump, the NYT and Foreign Aid
Vern Loomis
The Boofing of America
October 17, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
When Saudi Arabia’s Credibility is Damaged, So is America’s
John Steppling
Before the Law
Frank Stricker
Wages Rising? 
James McEnteer
Larry Summers Trips Out
Muhammad Othman
What You Can Do About the Saudi Atrocities in Yemen
Binoy Kampmark
Agents of Chaos: Trump, the Federal Reserve and Andrew Jackson
David N. Smith
George Orwell’s Message in a Bottle
Karen J. Greenberg
Justice Derailed: From Gitmo to Kavanaugh
John Feffer
Why is the Radical Right Still Winning?
Dan Corjescu
Green Tsunami in Bavaria?
Rohullah Naderi
Why Afghan Girls Are Out of School?
George Ochenski
You Have to Give Respect to Get Any, Mr. Trump
Cesar Chelala
Is China Winning the War for Africa?
Mel Gurtov
Getting Away with Murder
W. T. Whitney
Colombian Lawyer Diego Martinez Needs Solidarity Now
Dean Baker
Nothing to Brag About: Scott Walker’s Economic Record in Wisconsin:
October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Andrew Bacevich
Unsolicited Advice for an Undeclared Presidential Candidate: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail