Moqtada al-Sadr seems to have put paid to the illusion that Sunni and Shia relations are the root cause of the violence in Iraq. The weekends massive and peaceful demonstrations by his supporters, included Sunni as well as Shia clerics in the parades, were all calling for the same thing – an end to the occupation of their country by the US and their allies.
Meanwhile, US government spokesman, Gordon Johndroe, tried to put a positive spin on the latest development saying: “…I note today that Sadr called for massive protests. I'm not sure that we've seen that, those numbers materialize and the numbers that he was seeking in his call from his hangout in Iran. But Iraq, four years on, is now a place where people can freely gather and express their opinions. And that was something they could not do under Saddam. And while we have much more progress ahead of us -- the United States, the coalition and Iraqis have much more to do -- this is a country that has come a long way from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein.”
It would have been a little difficult to stop hundreds of thousands to ‘freely gather and express their opinions’ as they did yesterday in Najaf, but if just a few hundred had tried the same thing in Baghdad, where there was an effective vehicle curfew which prevented any such activities, there would have been no such freedoms available.
As if to reinforce the call that Moqtada al-Sadr has made that Iraqis should rise up together and push the Americans and their allies out, some 10 US soldiers were killed in various actions by insurgents. While there can be no doubt that there has been some gross and extreme violence between Sunni and Shia as the groupings vie for power on the street, al-Sadr has now called for them to put aside their differences in order to fight against their common enemy; the US and their allies. The mainstream media have been reporting that the civil war that is underway in Iraq is because of the continuing violence between the Sunni and Shia groups. This is not the case. The reality is that the civil war is between the Iraqi insurgents, Sunni and Shia, and the Iraqi puppet government army and police who operate under the command of the US occupation forces. This, however, may soon end in the light of Moqtada al-Sadr’s call for even the Iraqi army and police to now rise up against the occupiers.
The western mainstream media propaganda machine are going to have to re-think their ‘civil war’ stories in the coming weeks and months as the reality dawns upon the world that all the Iraq people want is for the US and their allies to leave.