Thursday, February 23, 2006
THE LAST STRAW?
With the situation in Iraq going downhill rapidly, I wanted to bring you a first hand account of the last 36 hours from an Iraqi dentist living in Baghdad. This comes from his blog site - Healing Iraq.
Samarra Attack, the Last Straw?
The situation in Baghdad is bad, bad, bad. I had to flee work early and return home after news of large protests in Shi'ite districts, and several attacks against Sunni mosques in the Baladiyat, Sha'ab and Dora districts by angry rioters. Sunnis are being blamed for the attack against a Shia holy shrine in Samarra, a largely Sunni town.
The streets look empty now, and all stores seem to be closed. I can hear gunfire and American helicopters and jets circling the skies.
I'll update again when I get a grip on what is going on. Things look tense enough.
I was disconnected for a while so I couldn't update any sooner.
Details on what is going on are still rather vague. I have to rely on Iraqi television and word of mouth to put this update together. But first, here is what the Iraqi Islamic party website (Arabic) is reporting:
The Al-Qudus, Al-Shaheed, and Al-Abrar mosques in Sadr city were evacuated and occupied by the Mahdi army. In the Baladiyyat and Binook districts, the Ahmed RaÂouf, Al-Qudus, Dhiyouf Al-Rahman, Al-Fayyadh, Al-Muhannad, Al-Hassan bin Ali, and Ibad Allah Al-Muttaqeen mosques have been taken over by armed mobs from Sadr city.
Mosques in Baghdad attacked by armed rioters:
The Umm Al-Qura and Al-Hamza mosques in Ghazaliya.
Al-KhulafaaÂ and Al-Fardous mosques in Hayy Ur.
Al-Haqq and Al-Sada Al-NiÂam mosques in Al-ShaÂab.
Al-Hajja Fawzia, Al-Faruq, Al-Hassan, and Ibad Al-Rahman mosques in Palestine street.
Abu Ubaida and Al-NidaÂ mosques in Qahira.
Al-Rahma and Al-Battawi mosques in ShuÂla.
Malik bin Anas, Al-Samarrai, and Uthman bin Affan mosques in Baghdad Al-Jedida.
Al-Mustafa, Ubaid Al-Kubaisi, Taha Al-Samarrai and Al-Bustani mosques in Saidiya.
Badriya and MusÂab bin Umair mosques in Talibiya.
Al-Hamza mosque in Turath.
Al-Rahma mosque in Al-Utaifiya.
Al-Ani mosque in Waziriya.
Hayy Al-Umal mosque in Baladiyyat.
Al-Yassin and Al-ShuhadaaÂ mosques in Dora.
Fendi Al-Kubaisi mosque in Al-Shurta.
The Al-Ashra Al-Mubashareen mosque in Basrah was attacked, and unconfirmed news that the shrine of Talha bin Ubaid Allah (a companion of Muhammed), south of Basrah has been set to fire by armed demonstrators.
The Islamic partyÂs Basrah branch at Al-JazaÂer district was also set to fire, following armed clashes between guards and ShiÂite demonstrators. Several members are reportedly still trapped inside, with Sunni parliament member Khalaf Al-Sheikh Eissa among them.
The Al-Fayhaa, Al-Salam mosques, and stores belonging to the Sunni Endowment Board have also been set to fire. A curfew has been imposed until morning.
Sunni mosques in Diwaniya, as well as the Grand mosque and Hutteen mosque have been evacuated, and occupants arrested during noon prayers.
Several mosques at Nasiriya and Suq Al-Shiyoukh have been threatened. The Islamic party office was set to fire.
The Al-Nijoom vermicelli factory at Baghdad Al-Jedida (owned by Hajj Nassar, a Sunni merchant) has been burned to the ground, and the Al-Safa, Al-Mustafa and Al-Isra mosques have been taken over.
The Rusafa and ZaÂfaraniya Islamic party offices have been attacked.
The Mahdi milita stormed into the QabaaÂ mosque in ShaÂab district and renamed it to Al-Hadi mosque.
Al-Aqtab Al-ArbaÂa mosque near the Baghdad airport road was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades.
Interior ministry forces take over the Salman Al-Farisi shrine in Salman Pak (Madain) south of Baghdad.
Armed attack against the Sunni Endowments office in SabaÂ Abkar, and American troops arrive at the location.
Al-Rahman and Yassin mosques at Abu Dshir attacked.
The Islamic party website says ShiÂite mourning chants and prayers are being broadcast now from the abovementioned Sunni mosques.
Clashes are being reported in Sulaikh, Ghazaliya, Al-Amil, ShaÂab and Dora districts of Baghdad.
And right now, they sound like they are near my doorstep. The Interior ministry forces and Mahdi militiamen are having a field day. Relatives from Palestine street and Baghdad Al-Jedida have called to report raid campaineighborhoodsnni neighbourhoods.
Is this the final straw? Or will it pass after a random spree of violence? No one can really tell at the moment.
It's almost 3 am and I can still hear gunfire in the neighbourhood. Word of the street in our area is that Sunni neighbourhood watch teams are patrolling several Sunni districts in Baghdad, such as Adhamiya, Ghazaliya, Khadhraa, Adil, Dora, Amiriya, Bayaa, Mansour and Al-Jihad. They say if any Interior ministry forces (read Badr brigade) enter the area, local mosques will shout three Allahu Akbar's through loudspeakers as a sign for residents to defend themselves.
Sistani called for calm, yet he urged his followers to continue with 'non-violent' demonstrations, like this one for instance (SEE PHOTO ACCOMPANYING ABOVE).
Meanwhile, the Islamic party reports a total of 109 mosques attacked Wednesday. 11 Sunnis have been killed in the violence, 6 of whom were mosque Imams.