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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

BTW, There's a war going on...

From AP:
NAJAF, Iraq - U.S. tanks pushed into Najaf's vast cemetery-turned-battlefield Tuesday as helicopter gunships fired on Shiite militiamen hiding there. American patrols with loudspeakers went through the city, warning militants to leave or face death.

Explosions shook the streets and black smoke rose over parts of Najaf, but the fighting with Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia appeared more sporadic than in recent days.

A large fire broke out at a hotel about 300 yards from the Imam Ali Shrine, Najaf's holiest site, which fighters have reportedly been using as a base. Witnesses said insurgents were firing from inside the hotel and U.S. forces returned fire.
We'll probably find out Friday at about 6 PM that some 20 or 30 U.S. soldiers have been killed in this mess.

As I understand it, the Imam Ali Shrine is not only Najaf's holiest site, but one of the holiest sites in all of Shiite Islam. And turning a cemetery into a battlefield--good hearts and minds stuff there. This action against al-Sadr certainly isn't calming the situation in the rest of Iraq, nor is it protecting oil pipelines or other infrastructure. It isn't bringing the power back on, and it certainly isn't providing any break for the already-way-overextended coalition forces.

While it's always dangerous to try to find sense in anything the Bushies do, this Najaf crap really makes me wonder. Could it be a provocation intended to draw Iran, the world's largest Shiite nation, just across the border, into the war? Are they that crazy, or that sure that the stupid voters will rally around the flag and the pResident if they provoke Iran into killing a few hundred GI's? They have been upping the rhetoric on Iran lately. And the Bushies have frequently shown a tendency, when the dice won't give them what they want, to just roll bigger dice (think tax cuts, for example). Perhaps World War III will be the October surprise in 2004.