Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Petraeus' Ghost by Patrick Cockburn and Tom Engelhardt

Riding the Tiger

Muqtada al-Sadr and the American dilemma in Iraq
by Patrick Cockburn

A Kleptocracy Comparable to the Congo

Mass movements led by messianic leaders have a history of flaring up unexpectedly and then subsiding into insignificance. This could have happened to Muqtada and the Sadrists but did not, because their political and religious platform had a continuous appeal for the Shia masses. From the moment Saddam was overthrown, Muqtada rarely deviated from his open opposition to the U.S. occupation, even when a majority of the Shia community was prepared to cooperate with the occupiers.

As the years passed, however, disillusion with the occupation grew among the Shia until, by September 2007, an opinion poll showed that 73 percent of Shia thought that the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq made the security situation worse, and 55 percent believed their departure would make a Shia-Sunni civil war less likely. The U.S. government, Iraqi politicians, and the Western media habitually failed to recognize the extent to which hostility to the occupation drove Iraqi politics and, in the eyes of Iraqis, delegitimized the leaders associated with it......."

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