Monday, April 9, 2007

Iraq: More Than A Shiite Hole

On Easter Sunday, six U.S. soldiers were killed and nothing about it was in Monday's newspaper. I don't know if the news simply didn't reach the Florida Today or if that just wasn't as important as little Johnny finding colored eggs in his front lawn. And meanwhile, marking the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad (coincidentally the same day as the fourth anniversary that Baghdad was still a violent s#*t hole), tens of thousands of Iraqis including members of Iraq's very own police and military participated in a mass demonstration demanding that the U.S. leave Iraq. Amazingly, no violence ensued during the peaceful protest. And what kind of man could organize such a successful sign of progress? Not George W. Bush but his arch nemesis Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Oppressed severely by the regime of Saddam Hussein, al-Sadr grew up in an Iraq where survival meant protesting tyranny underground. The reason Bush has declared him a menace to success in Iraq is because al-Sadr has denounced the government set up by America in his country and wishes that the Iraqis had more of a choice in who was nominated for power. In a way, Iraq is becoming a mini-state of the U.S. with Bush appointing public officials even in other countries. And while the Iraqi people did vote for their president, they had no choice in who the candidates were. It seems as though al-Sadr wants the people to have more of a say in their government. And with Iraq split between Shiites and Sunnis predominantly, why shouldn't al-Sadr have a political seat?
He has proven that he can rally tens of thousands of followers to protest peacefully in a country riddled with bullet holes. And in April of 2003, al-Sadr filled in the public service vacuum in Sadr City that the government could not by providing health care, food and clean water to his people. And sometime later, on August 30, a peaceful disarmament of al-Sadr's men was reached between him and Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. But only a day later, the prime minister backed out and the fighting continued. In his most recent speeches he has told his people not to harm other Iraqis and focus on pushing the Americans out.

Now I rigidly disapprove of any encouragement of violence especially to my own American soldiers. But if for a moment we could look aside the threats and at the bigger picture we may see something valuable. This is a man with immense political potential who has been yearning for stability, peace and unification within his country since the beginning. And only when his voice goes unheard and doors are kicked down while gun barrels are pointed in the faces of his people does he fight back. So ask yourself whether or not you would do the same in his position? We have no right to be occupying Iraq any further. He has no connections to terrorism although insurgency would be a more appropriate word (focusing not on al-Qaeda but anti-occupation fighters) . He has shown that he has what it takes to lead his people and I think he should be given a chance to speak in the Iraqi government.
If this administration truly wanted peace and stability in Iraq, they would look aside American loyalty, as they have here in America shown party loyalty, and see that if the people are going to stop the violence they need a leader of the people in power and not someone chosen from halfway around the world. But perhaps with these views in mind I might find myself an enemy of the Bush Administration. I simply want what is best for America and Iraq and only when we let them be a sovereign nation of their own people will peace and stability reach the country. And I believe that if pro-Bush agendas were set aside and the people of Iraq were taken into consideration, maybe Muqtada al-Sadr could be seen as an asset to peace instead of a catalyst to war. But hell, who am I kidding...Bush doesn't even put his people first in his own country.

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