Wednesday, January 31, 2007
The massacre of Najaf. posted by Richard SeymourRecently, you will have heard reports of extraordinary 'gunfights' in Najaf, between US-led forces and 'messanic cult' called the 'Soldiers of Heaven', which led to the deaths of 300 'insurgents'. This was the story articulated by the 'Iraqi government' spokesperson, former Baathist Colonel Ali al-Dabbagh. Patrick Cockburn reports today that independent accounts say it was a pre-meditated massacre, and that the 'Soldiers of Heaven' were not involved. Its presence was rather used by America's allies, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, to launch a massacre against locals hostile to SCIRI's predominance. Having fired on a crowd of pilgrims celebrating Ashura, SCIRI supporters in the Iraqi army killed the chief of a hostile tribe as he led the procession. Receiving return fire, they called in the cavalry and shortly US helicopters was dropping leaflets threatening to bomb the area. One helicopter was shot down, and the remaining aircraft proceeded to wipe out the crowd with "intense aerial bombardment".
A couple of things. Colonel Ali al-Dabaagh was, when working as a spy for the Iraqi National Accord, the man behind the '45-minutes' claim. He later told Con Couglin of the Sunday Telegraph: "Forget forty-five minutes. We could have fired these within half an hour". So, he is both an experienced servant of two ruthless states, and an experienced liar on behalf of the US government. Second, even if the US was 'duped' into this atrocity by their SCIRI allies, one has to assume they thought this was part of their 'surge' tactic. More of this to look forward to.