Iraq: May 7, 2004


Apparently with the cooperation of the Shia leadership, American troops moved into parts of Najaf and Karbala, clearing al Sadr gunmen out of public buildings and allowing the provincial governor to return. In most cases, the al Sadr men fled at the approach of American troops. But in a few cases they didnt, and some 40 were killed. Three American soldiers also died. The Shia religious leadership lack an armed force as numerous and as determined as al Sadrs. But at the same time, most Shia see al Sadr as another dictator and want no part of his plans for an Islamic Republic (run by al Sadr, apparently).

 Further north, in Fallujah and the Sunni areas west of Baghdad, things have quieted down. American marines and soldiers are out looking for Sunni gunmen who are not still hiding inside Fallujah. But the new Iraqi force security force in Fallujah refuses to hunt down the thugs who have been shooting at Americans, and terrorizing Iraqis who refuse to support armed resistance to the coalition and the new Iraqi government. Many of the people who have fled Fallujah are trying to get away from the pro-Saddam thugs, who go door to door looking for volunteers for units to attack marines (and get killed in the process.) While many of these refugees were Kurds or Shia (who were never very popular in Fallujah in the best of times), the bulk of them were Sunnis who did not want to see the Baath Party back in power. Mentioning that in Fallujah could get you killed, or worse, if one of the Baath Party enforcers heard you. The people who, until early last year, cut out the tongues of people caught telling anti-Saddam jokes, are still doing business in Fallujah. Where did you think they went?



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