Iraq’s secret ruler remains silent – ceasefire in najaf lifted – oil production in iraq drastically curtailed
It should be a historically important step for the new iraq on the road to democracy: the national conference that convenes today in baghdad for a three-day debate to establish a hundred-headed government "interim council" to oversee the current interim government and take all necessary measures to prepare for the elections scheduled for early next year. But power-political important groups stay away from the meeting. The center of attention remains najaf. The outcome of the showdown (cf. Showdown in "valley of peace") between the american-iraqi "alliance" and the "rebels" around muqtada as-sadr seems to be more important for the future of iraq than the gathering of important political and religious leaders in baghdad.
1.300 participants were expected to convene in baghdad’s gruner zone starting today. According to a flash report by al-jazeera, already at the beginning "hundreds of participants stormed out of the meeting" its. Important political forces, such as the association of muslim scholars (ams), the highest sunni authority in iraq, and representatives of the sadrists under muqtada as-sadr, as expected, did not even accept the invitation.
For days now, thousands of shiites have been making their way to najaf to form a human shield for muqtada and his al-mahdi army, who are holed up in the imam ali shrine. The brief truce between the parties, which lasted only one day, is once again suspended. The situation is fatally reminiscent of the one in the month of april. A decisive military victory over muqtada seems impossible; but allawi, whose messages to as-sadr remain ambiguous-between offers of political cooperation and ever-new threats of military force-is said to have opted for a military solution after all, in an abrupt about-face when talks on the terms of an agreement between the interim government and the sadrists were about to be signed: iraqi troops are to storm the shrine.
A strange zigzag course of the "mayor of baghdad", as allawi is called by critics because of his only limited control over the country. Some clarification in this context could the "advisory" role of john negroponte, the strongman american in iraq (cf. John negroponte, future u.S. Ambassador and secret ruler in iraq) contribute. But about the kind of influence, for example the "advice" of the u.S. Ambassador to the iraqi prime minister, who are supposed to speak several times a day, is currently unheard of.
While bremer and his generals were still answering questions to the press during comparable military operations, which were usually still given sonorous, victorious names – and naturally also concealed more than they revealed – the "secret ruler" completely in silence; according to motto "no press is the best press", just in iraq. This is also true of allawi, who otherwise wants to impose his very own views of democratic freedom of the press.
Meanwhile, as-sadr, who sees the new iraq as a "saddam state without saddam" not only the better press, but apparently more and more support from shiites, who are considered to be "moderate" the former member of the governing council, sheikh bar ul-uluum, for example, who in earlier comments was still very firmly opposed to muqtada, and whose new stance probably represents that of many shiites at the moment:
The americans have turned najaf into a ghost town. They seem to be full of hatred for najaf and the shiites.
Even taking into account that muqtada is not particularly loved by the shiite population outside his strongholds in sadr city and kufa – most of the population in najaf would not have minded if the al-mahdi army actually left the city – the fight against his troops has led to a significant increase in his popularity "cause" symbolic increase. Instead of paying attention to what muqtada and his militia actually want, his de facto "politics" in any case, in the districts controlled by him, except in sadr city, is not very popular, one recognizes in him a representative of the shiites as a whole, especially since he presents himself as a last standing man allawi presented himself in the most sacred place in iraq, which has already earned him sympathy from shiites in iran, pakistan, kuwait, saudi arabia and lebanon.
Such antagonism among the shiites could cost the americans and allawi a lot in the future. The threat by al-mahdi militia to paralyze oil production in the south of the country is a "foretaste".