Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Know your enemy, know yourself

The situation in Iraq continues to resemble the period known as the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland.

The New York Times:
Adhamiya remained quiet most of the night, but residents awoke shortly after dawn today to muezzins' cries for help. "Allahu akbar!" they called through loudspeakers on the minarets of neighborhood mosques. "God is great!" The phrase has become a code in some Sunni neighborhoods for young men to take up arms against an enemy attack.

Gunfire sounded as Iraqi Army troops pressed in from their perimeter positions around the neighborhood, in northeastern Baghdad. Some of the shooting was from jumpy residents firing into the air. The shooting quieted down by early afternoon, residents said, yet the streets remained empty.

Some Sunni Arab leaders placed the blame for the clashes on Shiite militias. "What happened in Adhamiya is an evil act by an armed militia backed by security and government operatives," Dhafir al-Ani, a spokesman for the largest Sunni bloc, the Iraqi Consensus Front, told a news conference.
The Financial Times:
The prominent Iraqi newspaper al-Zaman claimed that the “people of Adhamiya had foiled a night assault” by a ‘’death squad’’ whose members were disguised as police” and quoted members of the “Adhamiya Defense Committees.”

Reporters trying to get into the district said US and Iraqi forces had sealed off the area yesterday, while witnesses claimed insurgents were again being deployed on rooftops in possible preparation for another round of fighting.

There were reports that at least one civilian was killed and five others wounded in the fighting.

It is significant that the street fighting in Adhamiya has been portrayed, by the Iraqi media and Sunni leaders, as neighbourhood self-defence rather than an insurgent attack on security forces. It could strengthen the insurgents’ claim to be fighting for the Sunni population as a whole.
The Provisional IRA adopted the claim of neighborhood self-defense against the mostly Protestant and unionist Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The Catholic Provos fought an insurgency for almost 30 years, a period known as the Troubles. It did not begin with a hatred of the British, but it soon evolved to that. At present, this administration is entangling the American military in a similar fight, perhaps only different in the degree of carnage; Iraq looks like it may be far worse.


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