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Socialism Today 86 - September 2004


Socialism Today 86 - September 2004Get out now!

FOR MOST OF August, Iraq was convulsed by the conflict in Najaf. A second attempt by US forces, backed by the stooge Allawi government, to smash Moqtada al-Sadr and the Mahdi army, brought three weeks of intense, brutally destructive fighting in Najaf, where al-Sadrís militia seized control of the Imam Ali shrine. Al-Sadrís resistance sparked uprisings in at least seven other cities in the Shia south of the country.

The fighting ended on 26 August, with the intervention of the Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani, previously absent in London for medical treatment. Al-Sadrís forces were allowed to disperse, ready to fight another day. Scores of civilians were killed in the conflict, many hundreds wounded. The old city of Najaf now resembles Stalingrad after the 1943 siege. Far from strengthening the US occupation or the Allawi government, the assault on al-Sadrís forces has strengthened the resistance throughout Iraq. All the political tensions remain. Once again, reconstruction has taken second place to further destruction.

The Siege of Najaf

For three weeks, Moqtada al-Sadrís Mahdi army fought fierce street battles with US forces in Najaf. US troops were unable for political reasons to attack their base in the Imam Ali shrine Ė the holiest site for Shia Islam. Al-Sadrís defiant stand has brought him new supporters, mainly from the poorest sections. Meanwhile the stooge government of Ayad Allawi looks increasingly weak. LYNN WALSH reports on recent developments in Iraq.

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