Good Lord!

Good lord, this looks serious:

A dawn bomb attack devastated a major Shi’ite shrine in Iraq on Wednesday, sparking nationwide protests and sectarian reprisals against Sunni mosques despite appeals for calm from government and religious leaders. The attack on the Golden Mosque in Samarra, one of Shi’ite Islam’s holiest sites, provoked more violence than attacks that have killed thousands but the Shi’ite-led government insisted it would not provoke civil war…..

No one was killed in the attack on the mosque in Samarra. However a Sunni cleric was killed, police said, at one of 17 Sunni mosques in Baghdad fired on by militants. One mosque was damaged by fire, though most damage appeared relatively minor.

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shi’ite, declared three days of mourning and called for Muslim unity. He said the interim government had sent officials to Samarra. Residents said police sealed off the mainly Sunni city, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad; police fired over demonstrators’ heads as they chanted religious and anti-American slogans.

Armed Mehdi Army militiamen loyal to radical Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took up positions on streets in Baghdad and Shi’ite cities in the south, clashing in Basra and elsewhere with Sunnis; a Sadr aide said: “If the Iraqi government does not do its job to defend the Iraqi people we are ready to do so.”

Witnesses said rocket-propelled grenades damaged a Sunni mosque in Basra and there were heavy exchanges of fire after Sadr’s Mehdi Army militia attacked an Islamic Party office in the city. Thousands of people marched in Shi’ite towns across the country and through the capital, condemning the Samarra attack.

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About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

10 thoughts on “Good Lord!

  1. “Dark times are ahead.”

    I completely agree. This does *not* look good:

    In the bloodiest apparent reprisal for the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, men in police uniform seized a dozen Sunni rebel suspects, including two Egyptians, from a prison in the mainly Shi’ite city of Basra and killed 11 of them. Gunmen fired on dozens of Sunni mosques in Baghdad and elsewhere.

  2. or this:

    The Shi’ites’ reclusive and aging senior cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani made a rare, if silent, television appearance that underlined the gravity of the crisis. He called in a statement for protests but restraint as protesters outside his office in Najaf chanted: “Rise up Shi’ites! Take revenge!”

    As Juan Cole suggests, Iran is now the wild card here.

  3. It’s certainly good to see that 7th Armoured Brigade has such a good grip of the situation that someone could take eleven people from Basra jail and shoot them.

  4. This is what I also feared might happen. This is Iran playing with the situation:

    TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed the United States and
    Israel on Thursday for the destruction of a Shiite shrine’s golden dome in Iraq, saying it was the work of “defeated Zionists and occupiers.”

    Speaking to a crowd of thousands on a tour of southwestern Iran, the president referred to the destruction of the Askariya mosque dome in Samarra on Wednesday, which the Iraqi government has blamed on insurgents.

    “They invade the shrine and bomb there because they oppose God and justice,” Ahmadinejad said, alluding to the U.S.-led multinational forces in Iraq.

    “These passive activities are the acts of a group of defeated Zionists and occupiers who intended to hit our emotions,” he said in a speech that was broadcast on state television.”

  5. “This is what I also feared might happen. This is Iran playing with the situation:”

    And then people were upset about some cartoons… Anyway, a leader that is consistently spouting hate speech and riling up his population must realize he is creating a serious pressure cooker. Any ideas on when the lid blows off beyond control? Or is it possible that the Iran population, barring a militant minority, is sceptical about Ahmadinejad and won’t move unless they are forced to?

  6. Well, it seems to be getting worse by the hour at the moment:

    Sectarian violence killed more than 130 people across Iraq and left dozens of mosques damaged or in ruins as the United States appealed on Thursday to Sunnis and Shi’ites to step back from the brink of civil war.

    Dozens of bloody revenge attacks caused the death toll after Wednesday’s suspected al Qaeda bombing of one of the holiest shrines in Shi’ite Islam.

  7. Quote:

    Another eyewitness from Samarra, who wrote to the Iraqi Rabita
    website, claims that 2 Iranians were arrested yesterday, and
    that the Al-Arabiya channel crew had filmed them. The Iranians
    were released when Solagh arrived at the scene. The Al-Arabiya
    crew was near Al-Dor, north of Samarra, surrounded by a crowd
    of locals, when a vehicle stopped and someone shouted: “We want
    the anchor,” and fired a couple of shots in the air to disperse
    the crowd. The Al-Arabiya anchor, Atwaar Bahjat (a very well
    known Iraqi journalist originally from Samarra), screamed for
    help but the team took her and the two cameramen. Their
    bullet-ridden corpses appeared this morning at the outskirts
    of Samarra; their footage tapes were confiscated.


  8. According to Juan Cole, US troops have been confined to barracks:

    “The US military ordered the US soldiers in Baghdad to stay in their barracks and not to circulate if it could be helped. ”

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