Iraq: August 10, 2004

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The government now seeks to arrest Muqtada al Sadr, and has 1800 police and soldiers in Najaf, where Sadr is, fighting to make the arrest. There are also over 2,000 American troops in Najaf, slowly cutting off the Imam Ali Shrine, where Sadr has taken refuge. Sadr supporters have tried to take control in other cities, like Baghdad and Basra, but with less success. However, in Basra, threats to attack oil facilities, caused oil pumping to shut down as a safety measure. U.S. troops operate under rules of engagement that minimize civilian casualties, which makes it slow going while fighting inside cities. Unless Sadr suddenly surrenders, it could take several days, or a week, to defeat his fighters.  

Taking down the Sadr militia will establish a precedent for how the government will deal with the other militias in the country. None of the other militias have been as hostile to the government as the Sadr gunmen, but there are hundreds of thousands of armed men still out there who are loyal to organizations other than the Iraqi government. 

The government has also closed the al Jazeera offices for a month, to protest the pro-opposition reporting of al Jazeera. Like many Arab news organizations, al Jazeera likes to portray the Saddam loyalists and al Qaeda terrorists fighting the government as Moslem freedom fighters. Al Jazeera reporting will often outright lie about what is going on in order to encourage more violence.  

 

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