Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Najaf Bombing Fall-Out

As hundreds of thousands attended the funeral of slain Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, his brother Abd al-Aziz, a member of the governing council and now head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, blamed the U.S. for not providing adequate security in the country. He also called for Iraqi unity and demanded security responsibility be turned over the religious militias. Al-Hakim seems to have gained in death a stature he never had in life, when he was just one Islamist leader with little or no grass-roots support. Now the Badr Brigades, the SCIRI-affiliated militia which was officially disarmed a while back, has played a role in providing security for the funeral, and public opinion will likely draw a contrast (unfair, really) with American efforts in that direction. There's also a lot of anti-Ba'athist anger, which could easily spill into anti-Sunni anger depending on how things develop. This would be the worst-case scenario for the American occupation of the country, and probably for Iraq's future.


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