TCS Daily

Thwarting the Plot Against Sistani

By Austin Bay - January 31, 2007 12:00 AM

Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is a most remarkable man.

Consider these attributes: a Muslim theologian who promotes democracy, an Iraqi Shia leader who supports national reconciliation, an international Shia luminary who believes Sunnis and Shias and Christians -- and human beings in general -- have reasons to cooperate and accommodate. In a just world, he would win a Nobel Peace Prize.

British Maj. Gen. Andrew Graham said of Sistani in 2004: "The pro-democracy moderate Muslim cleric doesn't have to be found. That's Sistani. Fortunately, he is the most influential religious leader in Iraq."

Sistani's influence extends beyond Iraq, into Shia communities throughout the world, including Iran and Lebanon.

However, these inspiring attributes are the very reason the so-called "Soldiers of Heaven" militia targeted Grand Ayatollah Sistani for either kidnapping or assassination this past weekend.

News reports describe the Soldiers of Heaven as a "messianic Shia cult" intent on murdering Shia pilgrims visiting shrines in the Iraqi city of Najaf. The Shia pilgrims were commemorating Ashoura, the murder of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein, after the Battle of Karbala in A.D. 680. That murder fixed the schism between the Sunni and the Shia. Najaf (which isn't far from the modern city of Karbala) is also Sistani's home.

I'll get to the Battle of Najaf 2007 in a moment, but first consider who benefits from the mass murder of Shia pilgrims and senior Shia clerisy who support reconciliation and national unity. Here's the answer: the Islamo-fascist killers who fear the emergence of a democratic alternative to tyranny and terror in the Middle East.

Sistani offers a modernizing Shia alternative to Iran's radical leaders. That's why targeting Sistani immediately suggests a touch or two of Iranian involvement, at least in terms of funds and operational advice.

Radical Shia groups in Iraq benefit from such a horror. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government has launched a new series of raids on Moktada Sadr's Shiite Mahdi Militia. That's put the Sadrists in a bind. Sadrist propagandists assert that the Shia radical militias protect Shias the government cannot defend. Savagery in Najaf plays into the propagandists' hands -- even though the nominal leader of the Soldiers of Heaven also called himself "the mahdi."

Saddamist and Sunni rejectionists also benefit from murder and chaos. We know from documents captured in February 2004 that al-Qaida saw a Sunni-Shia war as its only path to victory in Iraq. Saddam's supporters gambled that they could murder their way back into power by killing Iraqis and inciting ethnic as well as religious conflict. Saddam's holdouts have been trying to stage an "Iraqi Tet" since 2004, achieving a media-driven psychological victory that will force the United States to abandon Iraqi democrats.

Do these disparate, philosophically antithetical rejectionist groups cooperate? Coalition intelligence analysts suspect they do -- at least at the wink-and-nod level. Iraqi democrats and clerics like Sistani are their common enemy -- a modernity and moderation that seeds their defeat. Shia clerics in Najaf told The New York Times that at least one Soldier of Heaven Shiite leader allied himself with Saddam Hussein in 1993. That's one open-source indication of cross-fertilization.

So last weekend the Soldiers of Heaven -- allegedly a Shia faction, but certainly a rejectionist organization -- gathered at least 600 fighters (and possibly more) outside of Najaf on a farm owned by a supporter of Saddam's regime.

But the Iraqi government struck first.

Press reports have emphasized the Iraqi government's and Iraqi Army's inadequacies. An Iraqi Army battalion dispatched to the Soldiers of Heaven camp encountered fierce resistance. It pulled back and requested air strikes and U.S. military support. The firefight raged for 24 hours. The Iraqi Ministry of Defense reported 263 militants killed and over 300 captured.

Striking first indicates improved intelligence. Iraqi forces striking first demonstrates improved Iraqi military capabilities. U.S. and coalition air and ground "back up" is an operational version of "strategic overwatch," which was the goal coalition forces set for themselves in 2004.

Mass murder in Najaf was thwarted. The rejectionist forces were destroyed. American defeatists and Middle Eastern fascists should take note.



Iranian fingerprints
It is about time that we shine the light on Iranian involvement in the mayhem in Iraq. The Iranian leaders fear democracy in any form except theirs. They work thru their proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine to spread violence against any form of peaceful resolution.
Lets not forget Syria in this terrorist role. They both feel threatened by Afganistan and Iraq because they know that a Democratic state on each border may spill over to their opressed people.
Sunlight is the best sanitizer, and the more we shine on the involvement of Iran and Syria's terrorist involvement in neighboring countries the weaker and more violent they will become. Perhaps the isolation will bring a more moderate group of leaders in those two countries, without an all out war to achieve the same outcome.

The Future
Perhaps most disconcerting when reading this report, is the utter absence of reports on the mainstream media of this affair, other than to assert the Iraqi Army was incapable of pulling it off without American forces intervention.

Here in America, and I must presume around the world as well, few learn of the moderate Sistani and his beliefs. Few know of his moderate, modern stance and the possibilities he represents.

So long as the only focus of the mainstream media is on the carnage, confrontation, and conflicting sides in this affair, few will understand there really is the possibility of a free, democratic, Iraq.

No one seems to want to look at the potential. No one wants to mention there are positives and could be extremely more. I know we have lost over 3000 soldiers and having been there, my heart cries out for them. I also know the media that front page headlines, news broadcast leadins, any and all that may be death, carnage, going wrong, chaos.

How about the 9000 annual deaths of Americans caused by illegal aliens? Why are we highlighting one travesty, but not another? I mean no harm to aliens. I think we must find a reasonable way out of the mess we are in on that issue, so no attacks please. I'm just trying to compare the numbers point to one another, and demonstrate the media's failure to look at both sides. Their focus is on what they see from their biased perspective. Looks like all they want to do is pile on scorn, so the agenda's they agree with are triumphant.

By failing to look at the positive possibilities, we all overlook them and concentrate on only the downside. That means we lose not only a battle, but the war altogether as we focus on only one agenda and one solution. Withdrawal.

You ask many questions...
about how and what the media reports.

It is painfully obvious to those of us who exist outside of the liberal/leftist groupthink that the MSM is overwhelmingly liberal/leftist and is firmly invested in creating defeat for American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The NYT openly admonished one of its reporters for daring to claim that victory is still possible in Iraq. The AP is caught spreading fabricated stories from fabricated sources. The MSM is totally willing to provide the best Hezbollah and al-Queda propaganda under the guise of "balance" while immediately condemning our own troops before the investigations are complete.

Just take a look at how the MSM handles ethics violations between Republicans and Democrats. Have you heard anything about Reid or Pelosi's indescretions? How about Jefferson's 90K in the freezer? How about Berger's destruction of government files and evidence? Nothing in the MSM at all.

So the answer to your questions is one answer: liberal bias. The MSM is populated with elites who believe we need to lose and doggedly persue that agenda.

The reason their is still support for the mission, victory in Iraq, is that the MSM no longer has exclusive control over the information we can receive.

I agree, to a point
But the internet is chock full of misinformation, bias and down-right lies. The problem is sifting through it for the truth. The advantage with the MSM is less sifting; it may be biased, but realizing that bias makes it easier to find the tidbits of truth. It also can give you the key words to more easily look up an issue for yourself on the web.

The other side of the coin is...
That the MSM has the power to control the flow of information in certain, very powerful ways. If it fails to report certain news at all, it thereby controls all of the thoughts, debate, etc. that might be generated in anyone who chooses to get their news from just the MSM. Of course, this is another example of caveat emptor for the consumer of information.


Exactly right
No argument from me on this. The MSM is biased and does choose what to report and how to cover it. This, in turn, creates enormous power to manipulate discourse and opinion.

Unfortunately, from what I've seen, the Internet is not the answer. the reason is that Most people like to stay within their "comfort zone". They will only seek out places the re-affirm their pre-conceived ideals and totally disregard everything else. And those are the smart ones who actually try to use the internet for research and information; a large number of people use the web for pure entertainment only!

That is where the MSM is useful. It is in your face and it actually takes effort to totally ignore it. Unfortunately, because of its bias, the MSM tends to reinforce the "comfort zone" beliefs of the many on the left. They don't have a bullshit dector and don't even want to try to find the truth.

Still, the MSM is better than the far out of touch sites and blogs on the web.

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