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The new normal in Baghdad

"What is more worrying is that politicians themselves are adapting to the situation rather than trying to change it. The new regime seems to have slipped in to the shoes of the former. Officials squat in the opulent residences of their predecessors, whose era they claimed they were ending. Almost no infrastructure has been built in Baghdad over the past 10 years, except the local government headquarters, the road to the airport and a few flyovers. Traffic police shelters at crossroads are stamped “gift from the town hall”, recalling the “donations” (makarim) of Saddam: a personalised substitute for what should be provided anonymously by the state. Public service salaries remain insufficient, driving employees to find supplementary sources of income, legal or not. High-level corruption is tolerated, documented and used as leverage when necessary. Pervasive social climbing, nepotism and incompetence are poisoning institutions." -- Almost ten years after the start of the War on Iraq, Le Monde Diplomatique looks at what has really changed.
posted by MartinWisse on Mar 3, 2013 - 54 comments

Is it tinfoil hat time again already?

The recent bombing of a a Shi’ite mosque in SE Iran by the Sunni Muslim rebel group Jundullah raises again the question of whether the US is in bed with the enemy. The Groups leader Abdolmalek Rigi was recently executed by the Iranians.
In 2007 ABC News reported on The Secret War Against Iran.
"Some former CIA officers say the arrangement is reminiscent of how the U.S. government used proxy armies, funded by other countries including Saudi Arabia, to destabilize the government of Nicaragua in the 1980s”.
posted by adamvasco on Jul 16, 2010 - 15 comments

Surge? More like... something that rhymes with surge.

The military surge in Iraq is failing. Sure, violence in the country is down significantly, but that's as much due to the Sunni Awakening, which began significantly before the surge got going in 2007. Unfortunately, everyone, particularly the McCain campaign, seems to have forgotten that the goal of the surge was to provide political stability, and it totally hasn't. [more inside]
posted by Caduceus on Sep 10, 2008 - 32 comments

Dick Cheney's Pre-Emptive Nuclear War on Terror

In case of emergency, nuke Iran. From the folks who brought you Operation Iraqi Freedom and the "last throes" of the insurgency, the latest strategy for enhancing homeland security and US global standing is to launch a nuclear first-strike against Iran in the event of another 9/11-style attack -- whether Iran has ties to the attackers or not. As Juan Cole points out, turning a Shiite Muslim nation into the next Hiroshima could have disagreeable consequences. (First reported by the American Conservative, not your typical liberal rag, and via DailyKos.)
posted by digaman on Jul 29, 2005 - 78 comments

Iraq Winners Allied With Iran Are the Opposite of U.S. Vision

Iraq Winners Allied With Iran Are the Opposite of U.S. Vision [access:sexy247@mailinator.com/ biteme] You can't always get what you ask for:: ...Yet the top two winning parties -- which together won more than 70 percent of the vote and are expected to name Iraq's new prime minister and president -- are Iran's closest allies in Iraq. Thousands of members of the United Iraqi Alliance, a Shiite-dominated slate that won almost half of the 8.5 million votes and will name the prime minister, spent decades in exile in Iran. Most of the militia members in its largest faction were trained in Shiite-dominated Iran...
posted by Postroad on Feb 14, 2005 - 59 comments

pnac vulcan;s empire iraq factions

Some said it could'nt be done, but the U.S. seems to have suceeded in uniting Iraq's different ethnic and religious groups. Now perhaps its time for the Vulcan's to begin to reign in their dreams of empire.
posted by thedailygrowl on Apr 8, 2004 - 28 comments

Shia Uprising

Eight U.S. Troops Killed in Shiite Uprising Occupation Forces Battle Cleric's Followers As Widespread Demonstrations Erupt in Iraq
A Young Radical's Anti-U.S. Wrath Is Unleashed For months, as American occupation authorities have focused on a moderate Shiite leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a radical young Shiite cleric named Moktada al-Sadr has been spewing invective and threatening a widespread insurrection. On Sunday, he unleashed it. At his word, thousands of disciples, wearing green headbands and carrying automatic rifles, stormed into the streets of several cities and set off the most widespread mayhem of the occupation. Witnesses and occupation officials said the disciples occupied police stations, fired rocket-propelled grenades at American troops and overran government security in Kufa, the town in south central Iraq where Mr. Sadr lives. "The occupation is over!" many yelled. "We are now controlled by Sadr!"
posted by y2karl on Apr 4, 2004 - 166 comments

ShiaChat.com reports from the holy city of Karbala, Iraq

After about 8.30am, we decided to try to make our way back to the shrine of Imam Al-Hussain (S) so that we could hear the Maqtal (story of his death) being read out. On our way there, as we were opposite the shrine of Al-Abbas (S) coming from the Baghdad Road, a loud explosion went off. It came from the direction of the Imam Al-Hussain (S) shrine. Suddenly the crowd of people started running and were coming towards us. We had no option but to turn back with them, or be trampled on. After about 2 minutes, another explosion went off, it seemed closer. We had stopped by now to see what was happening and after about 3 minutes, we started moving forward again. A few seconds later another bomb went off, this was the closest yet. We walked into one of the hotel lobbies, fearing anything could go off next to us. It was like an air raid, you thought bombs were being dropped. There was smoking rising above both shrines and there was a lot of shouting and screaming. People were running in all directions, desperately clinging on to each other. We stepped out to see what had happended but then another bomb went off. This was the biggest one and it shook us. Glass from the nearby buildings started raining down and we ran for cover. A lot of smoke and dust clouded over the area and we done a head count to make sure we were all together.
Shiite Account of Visitation ('pilgrimage') to Holy Shrines of Iraq is how Juan Cole titled this first person account.
posted by y2karl on Mar 15, 2004 - 7 comments

Ashoura Day: Get Bloody People!

Ashoura Day
(warning, the image in the link is graphic and disturbing and is from Yahoo News, sorry about the lameness of the source) Ashoura Day is a Shiite Muslim holiday that commemorates the 7th century death of Saint Imam Hussein.
Its "celebrated" by cutting oneself or others with swords and knives and is primarily aimed at children though many adults get into it as well. I'm all for cultural tolerance but this strikes me as pretty blatant child abuse.
For an in depth examination of what the Ashoura commemoration means, check out The Connotations of Ashoura.
posted by fenriq on Mar 2, 2004 - 69 comments

The Geopolitics of Translation

"This is not what Saddam attributes to himself." This? What is This? According to the BBC and Al Jazeera, This is the assassination of Iraqi Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim, the source of far more mourning amongst the Shiite community than, say, the death of Uday and Qusay Hussein. Apparently, Saddam pointed out how quickly the West rushed to judgment against him, then denied he had anything to do with the bombing. CNN and the Associated Press concur with that assessment, though they do not use the above (translated) passage in their report. And that would be it, save for the BBC providing a full text translation of the primary source for the story. A slightly larger excerpt:
[The invaders say without evidence that some of my supporters were responsible.] Saddam Hussein is not the leader of the minority or a group, with whom he is affiliated or who are affiliated. He is the leader of all the great Iraqi people - Arabs and Kurds; Shias and Sunnis, Muslims and non-Muslims. Saddam Hussein does not attribute this saying to himself. This[emphasis added] is what was decided by the great Iraqi people themselves in free, public elections.
Contextual shift between translations has always been a contentious issue, but precisely how does the message "I am not just the ruler of a few shattered remnants of Iraqi society" get warped into "I did not order the death of this man"? The two messages are, after all, mutually exclusive. The only thing that's clear is that it's unlikely this was a militarily-sourced obfuscation; Heatley's comments on CNN clearly address the obvious interpretation. Thoughts?
posted by effugas on Sep 1, 2003 - 16 comments

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