How Messed Up Is This?
The "Iraq national conference" was never going to be very democratic, but it was supposed to be an important step forward in the neo-con plan to coronate a US puppet regime.
The conference brought together more than 1,300 delegates from Iraq's different political, religious, social and ethnic groups, although many important factions - including supporters of "rebel firebrand cleric" Moqtada al-Sadr - were either uninvited or staying away.
No sooner had the conference begun than mortars were lobbed towards the building, prompting organizers to scream for delegates to get away from the windows.
When the meeting resumed, about 100 people rose to their feet calling for an end to the fighting in the city of Najaf.
"A spokesman for the Shiite group, Yahya Mussawi, jumped to the podium saying democracy meant listening to the people of Iraq.
'Part of democracy is that you listen to the Iraqi people. It is time that you heard us and we ask that military operations stop in Najaf immediately and dialogue takes place,' he shouted.
He was stopped by the conference's chief organiser Fuad Maasum, who then called a 30-minute break in proceedings. "
The Herald reports a similar disruption:
After the opening speeches, Nadim al Jadari, an official with the Shi'ite Political Council, ran onto the platform and threatened to quit the conference - which would be a painful blow to the government - unless negotiations were restarted to end the fighting in Najaf.
Middle East academic Juan Cole details the political manouvering within the Shi'ite clergy and other Arab religious groups, saying "even the more mainstream clerics... have turned against the Americans over their hamfisted assault on the holy city of Najaf."
One senior cleric claims "the Allawi government and its American backers have lost political control of everything south of Najaf." Whether such claims are quite true or not, the Najaf assault certainly seems to be a lose-lose situation for the USA.
Thousands of Shiites are streaming toward Najaf in hopes of forming a human shield around Muqtada al-Sadr, according to al-Hayat. Many have already gathered at the gates to the old city in Najaf and around the shrine of Imam Ali.
Just remember, folks, this is the Shi'a - the ones who were repressed by Saddam's Sunni minority! As The Scotsman reports:
When troopers of the US 101st Airborne Division first entered the Iraqi city of Najaf 17 months ago, they were greeted by huge and welcoming crowds chanting "Die Saddam, die".