At first the Iraqi police — actually the Americans — said the Imam Ali Mosque bombing was the work of al-Qaeda. But that didn’t really make too much sense, not with Iraqis unrelated to al-Qaeda killing US soldiers, American civilians working for military contractors, and fellow Iraqis cooperating with the Anglo-Americans. Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim, the assumed target of the suicide bombing, was considered one of the latter by many Iraqis.
As if to add a bit of drama to the bombing, the “authorities” threw in the complicity of “foreigners,” a few straggling Saudis, Syrians, and Palestinians. This addition fits nicely in the Bushite explanation of things — the Iranians, Syrians, even the formerly obliging Saudis are nothing less than arrant troublemakers and, down the road, their verminous nests will need to be invaded as well.
Now it seems the perps are Iraqis. “There are several suspects, none of whom has citizenship other than Iraqi,” admitted Haidar al-Mayyali, the governor of the holy city of Najaf. These are Saddam “remnants,” of course, “dead-enders” or “bitter-enders.” Even so, the “authorities” are unwilling to completely dismiss the al-Qaeda connection. “There is no exact information on this matter,” al-Mayyali added. But then there never is.
Saddam, or members of his “remnant” Ba’athist dictatorship, wasted little time denying all involvement in the terrorist bombing. On Monday, al-Jazeera — the Arabic TV station the Americans have bombed in the past (in Kabul, Basra, and Baghdad) apparently for reporting the news differently than the Bush Ministry of Disinformation, aka Fox News, has — aired an audio tape supposedly recorded by Saddam. “The infidel invaders are accusing, without proof, the followers of Saddam Hussein after the killing of Shi’ite leader Hakim,” said the tape. “This is not what Saddam attributes to himself.”
Saddam may not attribute the bombing to himself, but the US “appointed” Governing Council has, more than likely with ample prodding by their taskmasters. “They hastened to accuse us before they had any proof. Did they do this to shift attention from those who really did this, or were they just hasty? They have to tell the people the details of this accusation and their investigation,” the tape pointed out.
Well, naturally, that’s not the style of viceroy Bremer and the FBI, who were called in to investigate the bombing. Thomas Fuentes, dubbed the FBI’s top agent in Iraq, said experts will look for links between the attack in Najaf and bomb attacks at the United Nations headquarters and Jordanian embassy in Baghdad. “We’ll be obtaining samples if we can of the explosives used [in Najaf] and will be submitting that to laboratory analysis, and comparing it with samples taken from other bombings,” Fuentes told the AFP news agency. Fuentes said there’s no shortage of suspects. “Just start a list. Many groups are capable. There’s no shortage of people [in Iraq] capable of conducting a bombing like this,” he said rather unreflectively.
The conclusion will be multiple choice: Saddam or al-Qaeda with the help of earmarked enemies (Iranians, Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians, or the duplicitous Saudis). Since all of these guys work in concert against freedom-loving Americans, the pre-ordained conclusion of the FBI investigation will not be hard to digest, especially for a subservient corporate media.
The Iraqi police (actually there’s no such thing; more accurately, they would be described as American military police with hand-picked Iraqi employees) say they have discovered that up to 700 pounds of explosives were used in each of the cars in the terrorist attack and the detonation of the explosives were triggered by cell phone. They believe the explosives and ordinance used in the attack were the same type used against the UN Headquarters in Baghdad on August 19th that killed Chief UN Envoy in Baghdad, Sergio Vieira.
None of this matters, of course. Fox News and its wannabes will never tell the American people the truth about Iraq: while most Iraqis hate Saddam — at least the non-Sunnis who didn’t benefit from his corrupt and onetime American supported regime — they most assuredly hate the American occupation even more. After all, Saddam is Iraqi and the Americans well, in the eyes of millions of Iraqis they’re foreigners, invaders after Iraq’s bountiful oil reserves, Crusaders out to enervate Islam, servitors of the Zionists.
The Iraqi people share a long history of foreign invasion and occupation (Persians, Mongols, Ottoman Turks, and British), so their paranoia is justified. In fact, the word “Iraq” is not of their making — it was imposed on them under British Mandate. The arrogant Brits imposed a Hashemite monarchy on the Arabs of the former Mesopotamia and carved out the territorial limits of Iraq with little consideration of natural frontiers or traditional tribal and ethnic settlements. So preoccupied were the British by their desire for a direct trade route with India (another colony) and the prospect of Arab oil (discovered in Kirkuk in 1927) that they completely ignored the dangerous reality of Arab Nationalism burbling perilously at the heels of their hobnailed boots. It is the same nationalism that the Americans are up against today.
Pan-Arab nationalism is the primary reason millions of Arabs relate to the plight of the Palestinians; they share an emotional attachment and solidarity with brother and sister Arabs under attack by foreigners and Afrikaner-style settlers — European (Ashkenazic) Jews and their American benefactors and enablers. For Arabs crossing Iraq’s porous and wholly artificial borders, the struggle is against the real foreigners — the Americans and their British coconspirators, the Europeanized heirs to colonialists and, as many Arabs view it, Crusaders.
The assassination of Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim will soon catalyze the fence-sitters in Iraq. Regardless of who actually bombed the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, Iraqis will blame the Americans for having done so little to prevent the bombing. Even the former CIA lapdog, Pentagon favorite, and convicted swindler, Ahmad Chalabi, blames the Americans for lackadaisical security. ”I hold the coalition forces responsible for security in Iraq. The Americans have taken responsibility for security in Iraq, and I appeal to them to keep the peace.” So precarious is the American grasp on Iraq that its puppet “governing” council is losing members. Last week, for instance, Shi’ite cleric Mohammed Bahr al-Uloum suspended his membership because of security problems and what he called the Americans’ inability to protect prominent figures. He cited the Najaf bombing for his decision.
Rounding up the usual suspects is an exercise in futility. The FBI — a discredited agency with an illustrious past of hounding mobsters and anti-war activists — will come away from Najaf with “forensic” evidence implicating whomever the Bushites want to blame for the resistance to their brutal presence in Iraq. The CIA will waste its time — and some of the secret budget money it receives without the consent of the American people — determining if it is indeed Saddam Hussein on that tape released to al-Jazeera. It doesn’t matter if it is Saddam on the tape — or one of his doubles, or a CIA linguistics specialist, or Santa Claus — because with or without Saddam Hussein the resistance will continue. It doesn’t matter if it’s al-Qaeda, the Fallujah branch of al-Qaeda, the al-Faruq Brigades, Ansar al-Islam, the Muslim Youth, the Snake Party, Jihaz al-Iilam al-Siasi lil hizb al-Baath, the Army of Mohammed, or any other of the more than two dozen known resistance groups in Iraq. As the FBI’s Thomas Fuentes pointed out, there is no shortage of such groups in post-Saddam Iraq.
Not long ago General John Abizaid finally admitted that the Americans face a “classic guerilla-type campaign” in Iraq — while avoiding the logical conclusion of his statement: a huge commitment of forces will be needed to even begin the suppression of a guerrilla force — or a number of guerilla forces — in Iraq. “Our coalition will stay until our work is done,” said neocon Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz last month. “The sacrifices that our magnificent troops are making [are] for their children, and their grandchildren, for our children and our grandchildren, and … for our security.” The American people, however, are beginning to think otherwise; according to a CBS News poll, approximately half of the American public believes things are not going well in Iraq and the threat of terrorism remains the same.
Now is the time to exit Iraq and let the Iraqi people decide their own future. However, this is unlikely to happen even if Bush is trounced from the White House next year. In order to force the US from Iraq there will need to be the sort of massive civil disobedience and non-stop demonstrations that eventually forced the US from Vietnam nearly thirty years ago. The difference between US involvement in Vietnam and Iraq is crucial for the formation of that sort of activism: the Pentagon and the White House no longer depend on a national draft and the involuntary servitude of hundreds of thousands of young people, many who are likely hard pressed to even find Iraq on a map.
Eventually, considering the swelling guerilla war in Iraq and the neocon desire to take out Iran, Syria, North Korea, possibly Lebanon and (in the more delusional fever dreams of the neocons) Libya, Cuba, and even China — to say nothing of inserting troops in the cauldron that is the West Bank and Gaza as senators Dick Lugar and Dianne Feinstein are now suggesting — the idea of a military draft may once rear its ugly head. It may have to if the Bushites are to avoid imperial overreach.
“The exercise in imperial overreach now all but forgotten is the first part of the British colonial Indian Army’s Mesopotamia campaign of World War I, an endeavor that went horribly awry due to overconfidence, and a fixation on Baghdad that led to going too far, too fast, with too few, outpacing thinly-stretched supply lines left vulnerable to a marauding enemy,” writes Jason Vest. History may not repeat itself, not exactly. Even so, the Americans seem to be repeating the mistakes of the British in Iraq.
Neocons such as William Kristol and Robert Kagan are urging more troops be sent to Iraq lickety-split. “While it is indeed possible that, with a little luck, the United States can muddle through to success in Iraq over the coming months, the danger is that the resources the administration is devoting to Iraq right now are insufficient, and the speed with which they are being deployed is insufficiently urgent,” write the chicken hawk duo in the latest issue of the Weekly Standard. “These failings, if not corrected soon, could over time lead to disaster.” In other words, if more troops are not sent to Iraq promptly the neocon plan of splintering the Arab world into tribal Bantustans will falter and eventually fail. The neocons may hate the draft — recalling the lessons of Vietnam but they may have no choice: as it now stands, the US does not have enough soldiers to carry out the demented neocon scheme of world conquest.
Bush will not be able to send enough soldiers to Iraq — just as Johnson and Nixon were unable to send enough to Vietnam to stem the tide of violence directed against the invasion and occupation of their homeland. Even if Bush puts 200,000 or 500,000 US soldiers on the streets of Baghdad, Basra, and Najaf the resistance against the occupation will not end. Resistance is human nature, a spontaneous human impulse the obtund and think-tank bound neocons either forgot about or never knew in the first place.
For as the Algerian revolutionary Frantz Fanon understood, the people of Vietnam and the people now resisting occupation in Iraq are struggling because it has “become impossible for them to breath.”
KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent online gallery Ordinary Vistas. Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s forthcoming volume, The Politics of Anti-Semitism.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org