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Sat Apr 10 2004Iraqi Intifada: Shia and Sunni Unite
Sat Apr 10 2004Iraq Intifada
4/9/2004: The first major uprising against the US occupation of Iraq has begun. The revolt was sparked by the closure of a paper tied to Al-Sadr, a Shiite fundamentalist cleric, but it has now spread across Iraq. "Al-Sadr is NOT reflecting a minority of Iraqis ... Al-Sadr has 5 to 7 million supporters. [P]eople feel that their personality, history and culture are being attacked. Everyone is defensive now...All of these military steps that Bremer is taking now remind Iraqis of the Palestinian crisis... And the thing happening in Iraq right now, killing hundreds of Iraqis and dozens of coalition soldiers, is NOT just another mob. It is an uprising." -Raed in the Middle
Photos & Reports from Andrew Stern/Naomi Klein: 1 | 2
David Martinez Back In Iraq - Dispatch 1 and 2
Democracy Now Reports: 1 | 2 | KCSB Interview with James Longley
Report from Dahr Jamail
On Sunday March 28th, US troops shut down the Southern Baghdad offices of the newspaper al-Hawza. The closure resulted from a direct order of CPA head Paul Bremer. Al-Hawza was owned by popular Shi'ite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr. Iraqi anger at the US attack on Al-Sadr was immediate, and protests continued all week with crowds Friday April 2nd estimated at 20,000. On Saturday, massive crowds of Al-Sadr's supporters again marched through the streets of Bagdad and were met by US tanks which ran over and killed at least two protesters.
On Sunday April 4th, Shia protesters marched on a coalition base near Najaf. Spanish-led troops and Iraqi police fired on the protesters and clashed with armed members of Sadr's Mehdi Army militia leaving at least 25 people dead and more than 100 wounded. Later in the day in the Sadr City section of Baghdad, an ambush on US troops by Al-Sadr's supporters resulted in 7 American troops dead . By days end, there had been riots and bloodshed in cities all over southern Iraq including Amara, Basra, and Nassiriya.
On Monday April 5th, the US threatened to arrest Al-Sadr who had taken over Kufa with his supporters. The US threat to arrest the son of one of Iraq's most prominent Shi'ite clerics, was met by outrage from people across Iraq and protests spread. Even the Grand Ayatollah Sistani, who was believed to not be on speaking terms with Al-Sadr, issued a statement condemning the US attacks on the Shi'ite community.
In the US, Democrats and Republicans responded to the Iraqi uprising by calling for more troops and a delayed "handover" of power to the governing council, stating that a US pullout could spark a civil war. But there were few signs of splits among Iraqis as even many police and Sunni fundamentalists joined the Shia uprising in a show of unity. Only the US backed governing council refused to denounce the deaths of dozens of Iraqi civilians at US hands.
On Tuesday April 6th, Iraqis attacked a US Marine position near the governor's palace in Ramadi killing a dozen US troops. In Diwaniya Spanish soldiers were forced out of town as Iraqis loyal to al-Sadr seized buildings. In Nasiriya, Italian and Bulgarian soldiers fought for much of the day and Polish soldiers hid in their base south of Baghdad as angry Iraqis surrounded them. In Basra, Al-Sadr's militia occupied the governor's office and briefly drove British forces away. Al-Sadr himself moved to the holy city of Najaf and now controls much of the city.
Over one hundred Iraqis were killed and hundreds more wounded just in the fighting Monday and Tuesday alone. Saturday April 10 at Noon -- Emergency Protest - U.S. Out Of Iraq!
On Wednesday April 7th, the US closed off Fallujah in attempt to round up those responsible for the killing and mutilation of 4 US contractors on March 30th. By weeks end, hundreds of Iraqi civilians were dead, with new battles breaking out every day in cities across the country.
Shi'ite and Sunni militias appear to be joining forces.
On Friday April 9th, 200,000 Iraqis, many of them Shias, gathered near Baghdad's largest Sunni mosque to oppose the US occupation; "For the first time Iraqis have both Shia and Sunni speeches at the same mosque." Millions of pilgrims are expected to gather in the city of Karbala this weekend to mark the Shi'ite holy day of al-Arbaeen. As battles continue to rage across Southern and Central Iraq, a strike has been called for Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
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