I’ve been told for some time now that April 9th–tomorrow–is a green-letter day in the Middle East, because the Iranians have planned some sort of nuclear announcement or demonstration (Ahmadinezhad is going to Natanz, it seems) and are also sponsoring what their leaders refer to in private as “a new intifada in Iraq.”
So this story from al-AP caught my attention:
The renegade cleric Muqtada al-Sadr urged Iraqi forces to stop cooperating with the United States and told his guerrilla fighters to concentrate their attacks on American troops rather than Iraqis, according to a statement issued Sunday.
The statement, stamped with al-Sadr’s official seal, was distributed in the Shiite holy city of Najaf on Sunday — a day before a large demonstration there, called for by al-Sadr, to mark the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad.
“You, the Iraqi army and police forces, don’t walk alongside the occupiers, because they are your archenemy,” the statement said. Its authenticity could not be verified.
In the statement, al-Sadr — who commands an enormous following among Iraq’s majority Shiites and has close allies in the Shiite-dominated government — also encouraged his followers to attack only American forces, not fellow Iraqis.
I don’t know if it’s true, but it certainly fits; the Iranians love “disappeared” leaders. Their messianic leader is the “vanished Imam;” they “disappeared” bin Laden after he was routed from Afghanistan (he hasn’t even made a virtual appearance for nearly three years, if you’re keeping track) ; and Moqtada has been “disappeared” of late, which would put him in perfect position, Iranian-style, to lead an insurrection.
Don’t overlook the change in terrorist strategy: the attempt to terrify and thus enlist the Iraqi people against the Iraqi government and coalition forces seems to have become counterproductive. Otherwise, why suddenly put the population off limits? That seems important to me.