Thursday, April 15, 2004

This Just In!

U.S. troops have surrounded the city of Najaf, in Iraq, in preparation of capturing Moqtada al-Sadr. Now, the rebellious Shiite cleric who has threatened the peaceful transition of the Iraqi government to the hand of the Iraqi people and also started a hunger strike six short days ago, has decided he can enter into unconditional talks with the U.S.-backed coalition. This same coalition has only one mission in regards to Sadr, kill him or capture him.

Sadr has decided to drop his concessions that the U.S. leave residential areas, release Iraqi detainees, and end the continuing siege on Fallujah before talks could go on. That's mighty big of him, considering there are about 2,500 Marines out to blow his head off right outside his door. This leader of the Mahdi Army, who just a few days ago swore that he would die to expel the coalition infidels, has developed M16-ophobia, and has wisely decided that his victory is untenable.

Although he is feeling the heat from our Marines, he is still pissing a little vinegar, stating that any attempts by coalition forces to enter Najaf, one of the holiest cities in Iraq, would be met with armed resistance by the Mahdi Army. This threat hasn't done him much good in the past, but he is fairly new to fighting the U.S., and there is a slight learning curve.

Like Saddam before him, Sadr's actions remind me of the old Yosemite Sam/Bug Bunny cartoon, "Oh, yeah? Well, i dare you to cross this line!" Or the Black Knight in Monty Python and The Holy Grail, " Okay, we'll call it a draw...". He's backpedaling so hard from his statements last week you can almost hear the "beep beep" from his reverse gear all the way over here in California.

It's possible that all these concessions will come to naught, as the Army has not made any response as to whether it will negotiate with Sadr. It would be in our best interest to do so, but when have we acted in our best interest during this drawn-out engagement? Sadr's spokesman, Sheik Qais al Khazali, has said that our handling of this situation could have far-reaching consequences.

"This isn't about ... Muqtada, this about the Americans facing off with the marjahs (revered clerics) of Najaf," Khazali said. "These marjahs have influence with Shi'as over the whole world. There wouldn't just be fighting against the Americans here, there would be fights against the Americans everywhere."

True dat, Holmes. Except for the fact that most of the international Shi'a community have denounced your actions and wouldn't touch you with a ten foot imád. Most Islamic communities have seen what a crazy religious zealot can do with a powerful army, and don't want to cross Bush again. With a little luck, we can take Sadr into custody without a serious incident. Break out your lucky rabbit's foot.


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