Holy City of Najaf

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Big fight in Najaf as U.S. forces hunt down Muqtada al-Sadr, reports the AP:

U.S. troops backed by helicopter gunships battled with insurgents overnight near the southern holy Shiite city of Najaf, killing 43 gunmen and destroying an anti-aircraft system belonging to the insurgents, the U.S. military in Baghdad said Tuesday.

The fighting began Monday night and lasted several hours, a military spokesman said. It came as around 200 U.S. forces made their first deployment inside Najaf, moving into a base that Spanish troops are vacating about three miles from holy shrines near where…anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric [al-Sadr] is holed up.

Later in the piece comes these details about how Iraqi insurgents may be hiding weapons–and how such tactics will make the U.S. actions there difficult:

In Baghdad, the top American administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, heightened warnings about the reported stockpiling of weapons in "mosques, shrines and schools" in Najaf ? and his spokesman noted that such actions make the sites fair targets for military action.

"The coalition certainly will not tolerate this situation," Bremer said in a statement addressed to residents of Najaf. "The restoration of these holy places to calm places of worship must begin immediately."

Bremer's spokesman, Dan Senor, would not elaborate on steps the coalition was ready to take to do so. He noted that in the case of military action, "those places of worship are not protected under the Geneva Convention" if they are used to store weapons.

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  1. Did Saddam directly order 9/11? Probably not, but Jennifur and joe can not prove he did not.
    Was Saddam a willing ally of bin Laden and any other kill American cabal that came along? You betcha!
    In Jennifur and joe’s world, if the drunk who runs you down was unlicensed, you can’t blame him. And as others so susinctly answer ‘Again, I’d like to know when the focus switched from “let’s liberate the Iraqis from Saddam” to “Let’s kill those bastards.”‘ – It was when they would not stop killing us.

  2. Walter Wallis wrote: “Did Saddam directly order 9/11? Probably not, but Jennifur and joe can not prove he did not.”

    Did Walter Wallis order the murders of Nicole Simpson, JonBenet Ramsey and Laci Peterson? Probably not, but he cannot prove he did not.

  3. SR,

    “Did Walter Wallis order the murders of Nicole Simpson, JonBenet Ramsey and Laci Peterson? Probably not, but he cannot prove he did not.”

    you are one smart cookie! pat yourself on the back.

    ever heard of alibi (time and place)?

  4. these were the guys who used to LIKE us

    Jennifer, those freaks never liked us. They partied when Saddam fell, but that will not ever endear us to them. Josh probably has it right, that their concern is for power…Sadr isn’t even a cleric. He’s just some clueless but well-armed jackass trading on daddy’s name. *cough*. It will happen just as it did in Afghanistan… he’ll trade down for a power share, lay low, eventually be elected by those morons, then throw scores of Sunnis into woodchippers. The Sunnis will blame us, then slip back into fundamentalism and resume blowing shit up like their anachronistic compatriots.

    would still like to know when we changed from free them to kill them

    Two different “them”‘s. We never wanted to kill the people we intended to liberate. We never intended to liberate the people we wanted to kill. We are still working on both projects.

  5. Walter/Waltur,

    Is spelling my name “Jennifur” simply a mistake on your part, or is it some subtle insult I’m not getting? You know; fur, animal, et cetera? Enquiring minds want to know!

    Perhaps y’all are right in that these dudes didnt “like” us, but at least they didn’t outright wish we were dead. By Arab standards, that’s love, I suppose.

  6. Eric,

    The “public curiosity” language of the conventions comes to mind; as well refusing Red Cross access to POWs in the immediate months following the start of the war.

    BTW, should be noted that the British had same problems in the Falluja area when they occupied the region. I find it rather interesting that everyone always uses post-war Germany or Japan or Algeria, etc. to try to analogize, yet the far better analogy appears to be the post-WWI occupation by the British.

  7. We must destroy it in order to save it.

  8. No, Ruthless we are not trying to save it, we are trying to kill the enemy. These people are ruthless thugs who are violating the laws of war by using cultural sites as bases of operation. That gives our forces the legal and moral right to defend themselves by attacking these sites. Its not our fault their are being destroyed, its the enemy’s fault for using them to attack our troops.

  9. How about some respect for the Holy City of New York and the great temple of the international free market, the Twin Towers?

  10. Overlord, you have some evidence that Iraqis had anything at all to do with 9/11? Even Bush doesn’t believe that.

    This is the Three Stooges theory of warfare. Larry hits Moe, so Moe hits Curly.

  11. Fishfry,

    If you allow people to wage war from cultural sites you just encourage that practice in the future. The message can’t be hide in a Mosque and we won’t shoot you. That will just encourage this kind of behavior. The message has to be, shoot as us from a Mosque and we kill you just like we would anyone else. Also, the entire city of Najef is not Holy. What is Holy is the Blue Mosque, barrel place of Hussain. The city can be subdued without leveling the Blue Mosque.

  12. The first rule of war has always been the same: WIN! And is it just me or does the Title for this thread sound like something the boy wonder might say?

  13. John,

    The “laws of war?” Excuse me, but the U.S. has repeatedly violated the “laws of war” in Iraq. Pots and kettles.

    BTW, it is interesting to note that while the U.S. is not willing to measure the body count of civilians dead in any area where there might be combat (which is entirely justifiable), they seem to be rather precise in the number of hostiles they kill. I would not take the number that they report seriously in other words, because it is fraught with the same uncertainty as the recording found civilian deaths.

  14. Do you think a swift military victory using overwhelming force will work better at acheiving our goals in April 04 than it did in April 03?

  15. Jennifer said: Perhaps y’all are right in that these dudes didnt “like” us, but at least they didn’t outright wish we were dead. By Arab standards, that’s love, I suppose.

    Edward Said: Jennifer, you could not possibly understand what is love according to Arab standards, and any try on your part is simply racism.

  16. “Excuse me, but the U.S. has repeatedly violated the “laws of war” in Iraq. Pots and kettles.”

    Which rules has the U.S. broken? Specific examples? And are they cases where soldiers have misbehaved, or have these broken rules been a matter of official government policy?

    And John is right – if you want to stop insurgents from using mosques as weapons depots, then punish them for it. Don’t let them get away with it.

  17. Kill ’em all, boys. Let this desert god of theirs sort them out.

    the U.S. has repeatedly violated the “laws of war” in Iraq.

    Everybody violates the “laws of war”. For the amount of attention they seem to receive from governments the world over I think they should be downgraded to the “guidelines of war”. Really, citizens are the only ones who actually take their breaking as anything more serious than a PR gaffe.

    you have some evidence that Iraqis had anything at all to do with 9/11?

    I think we’ve already accepted that Iraq probably had nothing or very, very little to do with 9/11. What he’s trying to say I think is that in the “exalted opinion” of the international community – the same international community that brought us here – we’re supposed to proceed with caution around the sites they revere while using as military stations, yet nothing that we hold sacred is of any import to them. On account of 9/11 however I have long been a supporter of targeting mosques.

    seem to be rather precise in the number of hostiles they kill.

    Kills are easier to count because soldiers will claim them and can get a confirm from a fellow soldier. As far as civilians? Who knows. Whatever the count is, it will be tripled by the time it reaches the news, and all of them will be the fault of the U.S. Why would we be in any hurry? It’s a fool’s errand.

  18. “we’re supposed to proceed with caution around the sites they revere while using as military stations, yet nothing that we hold sacred is of any import to them.”

    While we’re at it, shall we start targetting civilians and cutting the throats of Muslims on tv?

    You’re a terrorist, rst.

  19. Again, I’d like to know when the focus switched from “let’s liberate the Iraqis from Saddam” to “Let’s kill those bastards.”

    Also, one of the original goals, supposedly, ws to make Iraq a beacon of peace and democracy, thus inspiring the rest of the Middle East to turn into peaceful, democratic countries who love the US. All we’re doing now is murdering civilians and inspiring a lot of perfectly justified hatred.

    “Mission accomplished,” indeed.

  20. While we’re at it, shall we start targetting civilians and cutting the throats of Muslims on tv?

    Probably not. From a PR standpoint that one would be a bit tough to defend. The mosques are also bases of military operation. We should treat them as such.

    You’re a terrorist, rst.

    That depends on what you consider a terrorist. The definition is shifty, I hear. If you say it’s because I advocate using terror as a weapon then yes I am.

  21. Every time I think Jennifer can’t descend further into self-parody, she goes and proves me wrong.

  22. Josh-
    Please share with me your wisdom, then–when did we switch from “let’s free them” to “let’s kill them,” and how is this supposed to make the rest of the Middle East follow Iraq’s example?

  23. yet nothing that we hold sacred is of any import to them

    Please tell me you’re not referring to the WTC or, worse, the Pentagon. Maybe that field in Pennsylvania is sacred and I just didn’t get the memo.

    I think we’ve already accepted that Iraq probably had nothing or very, very little to do with 9/11…On account of 9/11 however I have long been a supporter of targeting mosques.

    Revenge (even when directed at someone who had nothing to do with the source of vengaence) is a dish best served cold, eh, Khan? Please stop encouraging the parallels between Iraq and 9/11. Even when you admit there’s no connection, you imply a connection. Do you work for the White House, or something?

  24. “let’s liberate the Iraqis from Saddam” to “Let’s kill those bastards.”

    You think Saddam did it all by his little lonesome?

  25. RST-
    The guys we’re fighting now weren’t Saddam’s henchmen; these were the guys who used to LIKE us, before we bombed the bejesus out of their country and killed a mess of civilians in the process.

  26. The fact that Jennifer think these are guys who “used to like us” speaks to her ignorance of the situation. She’s the leftist equivalent of the guys down at the bait shop who want to nuke Fallujah.

  27. Josh-
    Again: don’t just call me ignorant, cure me of it. Al-Sadr used to be high on Saddam’s shit-list, because of his (Sadr’s) late father. They were quite happy when Saddam was deposed, and became more and more disillusioned as the situation there continued to deteriorate.

    I would still like to know when we changed from free them to kill them, and more importantly, I’d like to know when the rest of the Arab world will eagerly line up to follow the Iraqis’ example.

  28. Jennifer,
    We changed to “let’s kill them all” when they started killing us. And we’re NOT trying to kill them all, just those who are trying to kill us and their fellow Iraqis.

  29. Al-Sadr used to be high on Saddam’s shit-list, because of his (Sadr’s) late father. They were quite happy when Saddam was deposed, and became more and more disillusioned as the situation there continued to deteriorate.

    As a free-thinking person, I’m sure you don’t buy Bush’s with-us-or-against-us stuff, right? So then why do you assume that hating Saddam meant he loved the US? Why do you even assume he likes or dislikes anybody? This is a power grab, plain and simple.

    I would still like to know when we changed from free them to kill them, and more importantly, I’d like to know when the rest of the Arab world will eagerly line up to follow the Iraqis’ example.

    Your inability to make any distinctions amongst “them,” (presumably the 30 million inhabitants of Iraq) is just baffling. What, exactly, do you propose Coalition forces do with looting militias who occupy police stations, municipal buildings, and mosques, and murder rival clerics?

  30. The easy answer would be “learn when we’re nt wanted,” but the sad truth is, we really CAN’T just pull out (though we never should have been there in the first place).

    A few things to improve the situation: if we can’t prevent innocent civilians from dying in the crossfire, we can at least admit their existence, rather than harass the Al-Jazeera journalists who reports such deaths in the Arab media. We should stop the collective punishment of the city of Fallujah for the actions of a few dozen bastards. (Hell, if dead Iraqi civilians are merely ‘collateral damage,’ then perhaps the same term applies to dead American civilian hired guns, as well.) We should try to act more like liberators than oppressors.

    It’s a vicious circle now–the more insurgents act up, the more we clamp down, which inspires more anger, which creates more insurgents. Has it ever occurred to anyone that al-Sadr and his friends might be deliberately goading us into destroying cultral sites, to further blacken our name in the eyes of the rest of the world?

    I never can remember the difference between Sunni and Shia, but I remember reading in numerous sources–left and right wing–that the one group which used to have pro-US sympathies is now fighting us with the most ferocity.

    I wish our President had listened to his father, concerning why an Iraqi occupation would be an incredibly bad idea.

  31. Well, there are a lot of bad guys who were thrilled to see Saddam Hussein deposed, but disappointed to see that it was done by us and that we are still there.

    I guess this is what “draining the swamp” is about. First we take out the brutal secular dictator and his Baathist thugs. That’s the first layer of the Iraqi onion. Then we take out Shia fundamentalist militias who were previously kept in check by the secular tyrant. Then, when the Shia thugs have been quelled the Sunni fundamentlists with Wahabbi sympathies come out, so we fight them. By the time they’re under control we’ve been in Iraq for a few years, and a secular resistance movement has sprung up, composed of people who (clearly erroneously) blame the US for the current troubles (although obviously such people are misguided). So then we fight them.

    And then, after fighting 4 different waves of thugs, we just have to hope that there are no more violent thugs left for us to deal with, and that no new ones have sprung up for whatever reason.

    Call me crazy, but I propose a much simpler approach to the war on terror:

    Let’s recruit a bunch of spies. Maybe we could even give them some special agencies with names like “CIA” and “NSA” and “DIA”. And we tell them “Look, there are lots of evil people in the world. Your job is to keep tabs on them and find out which ones are planning to attack the US.” So instead of going to Iraq and fighting round after round of bad guys on the off chance that some of them might be connected to attacks on US soil, we just stick to the guys who are planning to attack us, including the governments that sponsor them.

    That seems a lot easier than “draining the swamp” and “regional transformation.”

    Go ahead, call me a naive liberal peacenik.

  32. thoreau,

    suppose said bad guys are found to be living in a Saddam controlled Iraq or a Taliban controlled Afghanistan or perhaps enjoying the bounty of Iran, or Syria or Saudi Arabia.

    What if such countries decline to cooperate?

    This is a tactic at least as old as the Barbary pirates. Let outlaw gangs do your pillage and claim no control over Ali Baba without the exhorbitant payment necessary for the required police work.

    Policing as a policy to destroy terrorist plans is fine provided we get cooperation or control the borders.

    As I understand it that is US policy in a nut shell. The famous with us or with the terrorists.

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