Now who would have - and could have - done this? It is obviously an attempt to trigger all-out civil war. But why?
A few questions to ponder: if Civil War does erupt, what will the USA do? Send in more troops (not likely)? Flee the country? Or (more likely) pull back to their huge military bases and use private contractors to secure the oil pipelines?
In whose interest is such a Civil War? Who would want to see even more long-term destabilisation of Iraq? Aside from promoting Al Quaeda's objectives, would civil war not also be the perfect excuse for the USA (or, more to the point, Cheney-Halliburton-BushCo Inc.) to maintain a military presence in Iraq for decades to come?
The USA will blame Al Queada, of course. But if it is reasonable to assume that Al Quaeda could be behind this sophisticated attack (four bombs with timed detonators, guards tied up in the early hours of the morning, no one harmed, attackers escaped), is it not also reasonable to assume that an undercover US-backed team could have been responsible?
As Juan Cole writes:
Iran is blaming Bush and the Israelis, which is ridiculous but already widely believed in Iraq and Iran.Indeed, some crazy conspiracy theorists even assume that the Bush Neocon Cabal and Bin Laden are working in tandem, given how incidents like this one (and 9/11) seem to further the agenda of both.
Personally, I doubt that. But I think the fact that people can even say such things with any credibility at all is a damning indictment on how hopelessly misguided the whole Bush-sponsored "war" on terrorism has been. How on earth can you "defeat" an enemy when your every move makes him more powerful? Of course, the answer is that you do not really want to defeat him, since his every move also makes you more powerful.
Cole also explains the significance of the Askariyah shrine:
The shrine, sacred to Shiiites, honors 3 Imams or holy descendants of the Prophet. They are Ali al-Hadi, Hasan al-Askari, and his disappeared son Muhammad al-Mahdi. Thousands of Shiiites demonnstrated in Samarra and in East Baghdad, against this desecration.UPDATE: Right-wing talkshow opinion-meister Bill O'Reilly says it's time for the USA to "hand over everything to the Iraqis as fast as humanly possible" because "[t]here are so many nuts in the country -- so many crazies -- that we can't control them."
The Twelfh Imam or Mahdi is believed by Shiites to have disappeared into a supernatural realm (just as Christians believe in the ascension of Christ) from which he will someday return.
Some Shiites think his second coming is imminent. Muqtada all-Sadr and his followers are among them. They are livid about this attack on the shrine of the Mahdi's father.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also a firm believer in the imminent coming of the Mahdi. I worry that Iranian anger will boil over as a result of this bombing of a Shiite millenarian symbol.
Both Sunnis and Americans will be blamed. Very bad.
Hmmn. O'Reilly gets his talking points straight from Karl Rove. So what's going on here?
Fly on the wall in the Oval Office hears:
Those frickin' Shiites think they can throw us out do they? They think they can run the damned country??? We'll show them! Donny, blow the fuck out of the place! Schools, mosques, whatever! Karl, tell your wingnut club it's all the stupid Iraqis' fault - we tried to help them but we are not going to keep wasting US dollars and US lives on this crap! George, ... George? ... Hey, where's the Chimp? Ok, never mind... Condi, you go do another tour of the Middle East. Tell 'em we're ready to pull out and get what you can in exchange. Just don't mention the bases... Andy, call my stock-broker. Long on KBR, OK? Scotty, get off your knees - I'm done. If anybody needs me, I'll be in my Secret Undisclosed Location with a bottle of Rotgut and a hot chick called Susan something...