Iraqis fight talk of civil
war By Brian Conley and Isam
BAGHDAD - Repeated cries in the
mainstream media of an unfolding civil war fall on
the deaf ears of many Iraqis who see the violence
as a direct result of the US-led occupation.
In the days after the bombing of the
Shi'ite shrine at Samarra on February 22, the
Association of Muslim Scholars and representatives
of Shi'ite groups led by Muqtada al-Sadr and
Sheikh al-Khalisi met at the Abu Hanifa Mosque in
Adhamiya to negotiate a response.
constructed a 10-point plan for responding to the
violence and building a future for Iraq. That plan
is currently being
implemented with varying
amounts of success.
A primary function of
this plan is to "condemn the press organizations
who tried to make this problem between Sunni and
Shi'ite become larger and larger, and we have all
the rights to try them in future".
their meeting, they made simple and
well-publicized decisions to condemn the Samarra
bombing, and all subsequent attacks against Sunni
mosques, as well as condemning all terrorist
It was significant that
Shi'ite representatives were invited to the Abu
Hanifa Mosque, a famous Sunni site in Baghdad, and
a recurring target of anti-insurgency operations.
"We invited them to see what we can do to end this
problem and to stop the killings between Iraqi
people," Sunni leader Dr Salam al-Kubaisi said.
The meeting was called "also to stop
attacking Sunni mosques and to end the shedding of
Iraqi blood, because this blood is very expensive
for us and in future we can rebuild everything
except human life".
The leaders agreed to
find compensation for all people harmed by the
sectarian violence in the aftermath of the Samarra
bombing. The representatives who met at the Abu
Hanifa mosque claimed that their people and
organizations were not involved directly in the
"We charge the occupation forces and the
Iraq sectarian government," said Sheikh Majid al-Sa'adi,
a Shi'ite representing Khalisi. Many of Iraq's parties,
particularly the Sunni groups, and the nationalist
Sadr hold this view.
The groups placed
two final statements in their agreement to point
to the role of the occupation in the recent
Their statement accuses the
occupation of "responsibility for all that has
happened in Iraq - sectarianism, terrorism and
other problems". Furthermore, the resolution
demanded that the occupation forces "leave Iraq as
quickly as possible and return back home".
The agreement finally calls on the Iraqi
people to live together in peace and defy what it
called the occupation's desire to inflame
sectarianism and create civil war.
Iraqis to not cooperate with the occupation's
plans, because their purpose is to make civil war
in Iraq. Second, as Muslim leaders, we want to
show all the world we are all against these
attacks happening since the Samarra bombing,"
Many Iraqi men seem to
support the results of the Abu Hanifa gathering.
"From the first day of the
occupation, because the US government made meetings only
with Shi'ites and Kurds in London and they had
an agreement with each other, but without
Sunnis, this was the beginning of the problem,"
said Mohammed Kareem, a 37-year-old security guard
Those responsible for the
Samarra bombing have yet to be located, but names
of suspects abound. The US and Iraq's current
governing council have made it clear they believe
al-Qaeda was involved.
Some reports blame
others. It has been revealed that Iraq's minister
for national security received reports in advance
of the bombing that Shi'ite shrines were being
considered for terrorist attacks. Last week,
Mithal al-Alusi, a Sunni independent, called for
"a political-judicial committee to be established
immediately to check out these reports".
It was largely the failure to investigate
attacks that followed the Samarra bombing that led
media around the world to declare that Iraq was on
the brink of a civil war.
Some parties may
have their own reasons for projecting a civil war
in Iraq. "Some of the Shi'ite leaders in Iraq,
especially those who came from Iran after the war,
want to split Iraq and take the southern part for
them," Kareem said.
"The Kurds also want
this, their purpose is to take the northern part
from Iraq. Also, the Iranian government wants this
and they support the civil war in Iraq more than
any other side. They need the US troops to be busy
in Iraq to leave Iran safe because they expect
that the US troops will invade Iran after Iraq."
Although there has been a great deal of
violence, it has been focused in only a few
provinces, and is mainly occurring in Baghdad. In
the latest violence, uniformed gunmen raided a
private security company and took away all 50
employees. Hours earlier, the bodies of 24 men
were found, 18 of them stuffed into an abandoned
truck in western Baghdad.
The sheikhs who
stand in opposition to the occupation have
expressed common ground with Iraqis who feel
abandoned by Iraq's new government and by the
promises made by the US occupation. "The Iraqi
government protects themselves only and they don't
care about the Iraqi people," Sa'adi said.