[Marxism] US forces kill 22 in Baghdad mosque -- Sadr supporters hit

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Mon Mar 27 12:24:30 MST 2006


March 27, 2006

US Soldiers Massacre 22 in Baghdad Mosque

Counterpunch
War Crime in a Mosque

By PATRICK COCKBURN

Arbil, Iraq.

US forces killed 22 people and wounded eight at a mosque in east Baghdad
in an incident likely to lead to increased tensions with the Shia
community. Police said the US troops had retaliated after coming under
fire.

Videotape showed a heap of male bodies with gunshot wounds on the floor
of the Imam's living quarters in what was said to be the Al Mustafa
mosque. There were 5.56mm shell casings on the floor, which is the type
of ammunition used by US soldiers. A weeping man in white Arab robes is
shown stepping among the bodies.

At the office of Dawa, the party of the Prime Minister, Ibrahim
al-Jaafari. Haidar al-Obaidi, a senior Dawa official, said: "The lives
of Iraqis are not cheap. If the American blood is valuable to them, the
Iraqi blood is valuable to us."

The US military would neither confirm not deny the incident but the US
army in Iraq has been strongly criticized over the past week for killing
Iraqi civilians and falsely claiming that they were insurgents or caught
in cross fire.

The shooting took place in a neighborhood dominated by the Mehdi Army
militia of the nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and some of those who
died may have belonged to his movement. Salam al-Maliki, an official of
the Sadr bloc, said that a hospital to which the wounded had been taken
was later surrounded by US troops.

Hazin al-Araji, an aide to Mr Sadr, claimed: "The American forces went
into the Mustafa mosque at prayers and killed more than 20 worshippers.
They tied them up and shot them."

The killings may mark another step in the deteriorating relations
between the US and Iraq's Shia community, 60 per cent of the population.
Shia leaders fear that the US is trying to rob them of the fruits of
their success in the election on December 15 when the Shia coalition won
130 out of 275 seats. Another US military move likely to be resented was
a raid yesterday on a building of the Interior Ministry, controlled by
Shias, in the mistaken belief that it was a torture centre. It turned
out to contain 17 Sudanese legally detained for breach of residency laws
who had not been mistreated.

The US is desperately seeking to pressure Iraqi politicians into forming
a national unity government to reverse the country's slide into
sectarian civil war. The US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, asked
the Iraqi leadership to "overcome the strife that threatens to rip apart
Iraq" . Forty, bodies, some beheaded, were found yesterday in Baghdad
and Baquba. The prolonged failure to form a government underlines the
deep fissures dividing the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish communities and make
it unlikely that national unity government would be effective. Even
before last night's events the Shia coalition resented the campaign by
President Jalal Talabani, supported by the US and UK, to get rid of Mr
Jaafari as Prime Minister. The US and UK want Sunni politicians, as well
as Iyad Allawi, to be members of a new administration.

"The US and UK were shocked that the Shia coalition did so well," said a
participant in the negotiations to form a government. "Since then they
hoped it would split. But the Shia parties have stuck behind Jaafari ...
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and the Hawza [Shia religious hierarchy]
are for Shia unity and the Iranians want the coalition to stay
together."

The present government, formed following the election on January 30 last
year, is a Shia-Kurdish alliance. One Kurdish observer said: "For the
Kurds it would be suicidal to side with the Sunni and Iyad Allawi
because they would alienate 60 per cent of the population."








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