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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

From Juan Cole

Just posted:

Heavy Fighting in Karbala

AP is reporting heavy fighting in Karbala between Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and US forces, with the Shiite militiamen taking heavy casualties, some 25 estimated dead. The US used heavy firepower in the sacred Shiite city, destroying half of the historic al-Mukhayyam Mosque not so far from the shrine of the Prophet's martyred grandson, Imam Husain. For Shiites, this is as though a Muslim army was fighting in Vatican City and damaged a Renaissance-era church near the basilica of St. Peter. You wonder if the US can survive its victory in Karbala.

Quotes from Muqtada al-Sadr today:

"I appeal to the fighters and mujahedeen in Karbala to stand together so as none of our holy sites and cities are defiled. We are prepared for any American escalation and we expect one . . . Let remind you of Vietnam. We are an Iraqi people that has faith in God, and his prophet and his family. The means of victory that are available to us are much more than what the Vietnamese had. And, God willing, we shall be victorious . . . Look at what they have done. Look what the torture they have committed against our detainees. Could anyone who came to rid us of Saddam do this?"

Well, I must admit that given the full text of al-Sadr's comments, I'm much less optimistic about the outcome of negotiations.

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