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Robert Fisk: Civil War in Iraq

The man Noam Chomsky calls "the best English-language journalist in the Middle East" on the possible effects of the assasination of Ayatollah Mohamed Bakr al-Hakim.

Civil War

by Robert Fisk
The Independent
September 01, 2003

In Iraq, they go for the jugular: two weeks ago, the UN's top man, yesterday 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.

Cleric's Murder Predicted Two Months Ago...in Corporate Media Network Memos 03.Sep.2003 03:09

In-House Memos on Television And Print Media News

Most likely a US or Mossad Black-Op. The U.S. wanted Shiite leaders reigned-in.

In-House Memos on Television And Print Media News Presentations

To see prior Installments of "Controlling the News" visit

Background - During the middle of March, 2003, tbrnews received an email from a man who claimed to be a mid-level executive with a major American television network. He stated in this, and subsequent, emails that he was in possession of "thousands" of pages of in-house memos sent from his corporate headquarters in New York City to the head of the network's television news department. He went on to say that these memos set forth directives about what material was, and was not, to be aired on the various outlets of the network.

Excerpt from Controlling the News-

"(June 28) The situation in Iraq vis a vis the guerrilla war is now reaching critical proportions. It is very obvious not only to the Pentagon, whose business it is to combat it, or to the White House who basically instigated it, that the actions of Iraqis are not, repeat not, merely sporadic lootings and local vigilantly actions but a well-organized and fully functioning guerrilla movement. This has very ugly religious overtones and has the danger of causing serious and widespread trouble in the adjoining Muslim countries. The Administration has two choices facing it: Get on or get out. Our sources indicate that Bush's temperament and personality will not permit him to retreat an inch. There is the oil question. We were supposed to secure all the Iraqi oil after kicking Hussein out and breaking his hold on the country. Bush was warned repeatedly by Pentagon experts that there was the strong probability of dangerous insurgent activity by he and his close advisors such as Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz discounted it. Since the President will not, and cannot, withdraw from a situation that is daily becoming more and more dangerous to American military units, his only remaining choice is to increase the number of troops in Iraq to both suppress any and all civil resistance to American occupation and , even more important, protect the oil fields and most especially the pumping stations and pipelines. Experts we have spoken with have said that this will be impossible without at least 200,000 troops in place. Pacification could take years, not weeks or months, and with elections coming up next year, inside White House sources have said the President and Rove are in a panic. Increasing damage to plant, increasing anti-US guerrilla activity and the resultant deaths of GIs is causing havoc with the planning for both the export of the vital oil and the prospects of another Vietnam to haunt the election. Options are varied but the best bet here is that Bush will replace the current commanders with someone who is known to be absolutely ruthless and will mandate the new commander to obliterate any and all opposition, especially Iranian-based Shiite religious leaders and former members of Saddam's ruling class. We are told that we will have to pull out our reporters if and when this happens. It would be a PR disaster if we had a reprise of Nam with the shooting of civilians on the 6 o'clock news. And all foreign journalists will be ordered out because the US has no control over these and both the French, British and Russians will love to show Americans shooting small children or blowing up mosques full of worshippers. A news pool is slated to be set up like the first Bush did in Desert Storm with controlled news being parceled out to the various media."

Mossad Coordinated The Bombing of Najaf Cleric 03.Sep.2003 14:36

Who benefits? Israel, of course.

Mossad Delegation Visits Baghdad And Coordinates With U.S. On Terrorism

Bassel Mohamad Al-Hayat 2003/09/3


A Kurdish official revealed that an Israeli security delegation visited Baghdad on August 22 and 23, in order to coordinate with U.S. intelligence on the issue of terrorism. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, informed Al-Hayat that the mentioned delegation carried out a field tour in Baghdad, and an air tour in a U.S. helicopter above Mosul, Tikrit and Ramadi.

The source insisted that a U.S.-Israeli security coordination in Iraq had become necessary to both parties, in light of reports mentioning the growing influence of Al Qaeda and Ansar Al Islam, and as a result of serious fears from a security cooperation between Iran and Syria, which the U.S. and Israel believe will be targeted against them.

Following meetings with Iranian political and military officials two days ago, Iran's spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had mentioned that a Zionist delegation visited Baghdad, without identifying the nature of its mission.

The Kurdish official added that the U.S. Central Intelligence could have sought the help of Mossad against "terrorist" organizations active in Baghdad. He added that the "Americans are contacting intelligence forces in the region in order to coordinate on security issues and strengthen the means of fighting terror in Iraq."