U.S. Dissension Plot Unfolds in Iraq

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hassan Hanizadeh

The conflict pitting Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army against U.S. and Iraqi government forces shows that the occupiers seek to create a new crisis for the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki by turning the Shias against each other.

The clashes began about a month ago when, provoked by the U.S. occupiers, Iraqi government forces tried to disarm the followers of Moqtada al-Sadr in Basra, without taking heed of their influential role in maintaining security in Baghdad’s Sadr City district, Karbala, Najaf, and southern Iraq.

The Iraqi government is insisting that the Mahdi Army disarm while at the same time the United States has trained and armed thousands of forces of the Awakening Councils in western Iraq.

These forces, which are remnants of Iraq’s Baathist regime and former agents of Al-Qaeda, adopted the suspect tactics of cutting relations with all terrorist groups and engaging in political-military activities.

The sudden appearance of the Awakening Councils in the political-military arena indicates that efforts are being made to recreate the situation that existed before the fall of the Baath regime on April 9, 2003, when most Iraqis were excluded from the circles of power.

The U.S. occupying forces’ strategy of strengthening one group and disarming another shows that they are trying to instigate a clash between the Shia militia and the Iraqi government so that the other group can insidiously come to power.

Iraq’s Arab neighbors, which are seeking to weaken the Maliki government, are playing a significant role in this process. But their implicit condition for helping establish security in Iraq is that the clock be turned back to the Baathist era before 2003, when the decision-making process was in the hands of a small minority.

Moreover, disregarding the consequences of following the dangerous plans of the United States and certain Arab countries that are under U.S. pressure, the Iraqi government is trying to disarm the Mahdi Army, even though the group has a strong popular base in the poor neighborhoods of Iraq.

The occupying forces also believe that disarming the Mahdi Army will eventually reduce Iran’s alleged political influence over the country, apparently oblivious of the fact that Iran’s strong ties with the Iraqi nation are based on religious affinities.

Although the occupying forces’ moves to redesign the political and social structure of Iraq are in line with the objectives of regional Arab regimes, the U.S. will never attain its goal in Iraq through force.

It will be impossible to establish security in the country unless the occupiers unconditionally withdraw from Iraqi territory, responsibility for national security is handed over to the Iraqi government, and a national dialogue between the government and various political groups is initiated


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