Saturday, February 25, 2006

Who let the bombs out?

Well, according to Aljazeera the occuppying forces are clearly to blame for the mosque bombing.

Here's an extract "Wednesday’s attack on al-Askariya shrine is an insult to the sanctities of all Muslims that could be seen as the continuation of the offensive move by some Western newspapers that published disrespectful cartoons of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)... With Iraq heading closer to civil war, many feel like Dr. Nabil Salim, a political science professor at Baghdad University who says that U.S.-led occupation forces share blame, directly or indirectly, for the shrine bombing."

Now we don't know who is responsible for the bombing but I was shocked by the attempt to directly link the publication of the racist cartoons (our take on the cartoons row) with the bombing. The Hindustan Times gave prominence to this "[Mahboob Ahmed] vehemently denied the US charge that the recent bombardment of Shia shrine in Iraq was the work of Al Qaeda. Entire Iraq, he pointed out, was at the mercy of US and British troops and nothing could be done without their connivance."

Some other voices seem to share the idea that the occupiers might not simply be indirectly responsible (which I think is completely reasonable) to actually saying they might be directly responsible - despite there being no evidence for this at all, other than a respectable hatred of the occupying powers.

For example the normally excellent Lenin's Tomb moves into this territory
here, but I wonder if this isn't a little hasty... Now the occupiers are dirty bastards - no question - this report from Socialist Worker is very useful at showing this, or this piece from the San Hose Mercury News, but that does not mean we should jump in feet first blaming every act of barbarism in Iraq on US special forces or whoever because "nothing could be done without their connivance" which is just plain rubbish.

The occupation has created the conditions where horrific acts of violence have become a daily occurence and human beings are perfectly capable of acting against their own self interests at the slightest provocation. I'm not ruling out the possibility that US forces are to blame - but I'm certainly not going to suggest they were until I actually have a reason to think it.

Otherwise the anti-war movement is just going to be a mirror image of the pro-war ideologues like in this CBS piece which blames Al Qaeda without evidence. I suppose if we have a world full of goodies and baddies we know without the necessity of proof that the bad things are all done by the bad people and the good things by our lot. Unfortunately (or fortunately perhaps) the world is slightly more complex and we actually need to investigate things before we know what happened.

This piece in the Guardian is far more reflective for example (Martin Kettle) and what it helps clarify is that the allied forces can be held responsible for the mayhem, of which the recent bombings are a part, without necessarily being the people who laid the explosives. Of course there are also lots of things in this article that the anti-war movement will have an issue with, and rightly, but there is much here that's worth engaging with too.

I think it would be worth moving away from the good / bad sloganising model of analysis on the war, particularly because most of the public are now convinced that the war was a bad idea. What we need more of is an understanding and discussion of the complexities of the situation - a bit more depth and a little less posturing perhaps.


Ed said...

I agree.

There's an unwillingness amongst many in the anti-war movement to accept the probability that the coalition, while surely as you point out 'dirty bastards', is not behind every sectarian attack.

Such wishful thinking does nothing for the credibility of the movement. It's symptomatic of a whitewashing and romanticising attitude towards the insurgency.

AN said...

I would go further and say it is highly unlikely that this was carried out by coalition forces or allies. The US end game must now be to seek some stability to reduce their miitary commitment, and although that may be served by the balkanisation of Iraq, all they need to do to achieve that is make some accomodation with the Sunnis, stoking up intercommunal violence goes against their interest.

On the other hand the Wah-Habi Jihadis do actually hate Shias, and have a record of sectarian violence, not only in Iraq, but systematic discrimination and oppression in saudi, and remember the sectarian killing of the Iranian Consulate staff in Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan by the Taliban in 1998, which nearly brought Iran and Afghanistan to war.

There is at least a section of the Jihadis who do not want the US forces to leave iraq, as the current situation suits their interests - and it is partly this which has undermined any iraqi national unity, as could be seen by the lack of nationwide response to the destruction of Falujah , in sharp contrast to the shia solidarity with Sunni Falujah in the earlier seige.

Jim Jay said...

It's certainly my 'gut feeling' that the US forces did not orchestrate this attack - and are probably pulling their hair out because of it... but it's something that's always going to be difficult to prove either way because of the situation over there and I wanted to give some concession to that inability to actually know.

Ed's use of the words 'wishful thinking' got me thinking... what do i want to be true? I think I'd like to believe that the US and UK governments had some genuine commitment to making things better in Iraq - but simply had no idea how to go about it. Unfortunately I think the vested interests of those governments and the companies they support make that a very utopian wish indeed.

The Sentinel said...
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The Sentinel said...
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