Source: Hot Air
With so many other parts of the world devolving into gunfire and violence, it’s easy to lose track of some of the places that were already falling apart decades ago. This weekend saw a serious breakdown in Iraq, where Shiite mobs attacked the Green Zone in Baghdad and Iran closed the border with the country. Eventually, the American embassy had to be evacuated, and embassy workers were seen being airlifted out of the Green Zone in helicopters. The scene was depressingly reminiscent of the catastrophic American withdrawal from Kabul. So was this internal conflict between rival Iraqi factions, the work of Iranian terror groups, or a combination of both? The smart money will likely be on option number three. (Associated Press)
Supporters of an influential Iraqi Shiite cleric fired rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns into Iraq’s Green Zone and security forces returned fire Tuesday, a serious escalation of a monthslong political crisis gripping the nation.
The death toll rose to at least 30 people after two days of unrest, officials said.
After cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced Monday he would resign from politics, his supporters stormed the Green Zone, once the stronghold of the U.S. military that’s now home to Iraqi government offices and foreign embassies. At least one country evacuated its embassy amid the chaos.
This wasn’t some minor protest that briefly got out of hand. This was obviously an orchestrated attack set up by Moqtada al-Sadr. The group arrived with plenty of firepower, including rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The violence was supposedly spurred by the announcement from al-Sadr that he was “leaving politics permanently.” Of course, the Shiite Cleric has said that before on a number of occasions over the past twenty years, typically when an election doesn’t go his way. But he always seems to come back.
In the last round of elections, al-Sadr’s party took more seats than their opponents, but not enough to form a majority ruling party. This has led to even more internecine sniping with the electorate so closely divided. But we’re not just seeing fighting between Shias and Sunnis in the current battles. Moqtada al-Sadr’s Shias are in conflict with a different Shiite sect based in Iran. This likely played into Iran’s decision to close the border.
In some ways, the situation in Iraq was at least somewhat simpler before America invaded and overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein. Back then, Hussein kept his Sunni minority in power by basically locking up or murdering the Shia opposition with abandon. He was a brutal dictator to be sure, but he somehow held the country together for quite a while. Now Iraq is just a mess.
So the American embassy has been evacuated and the defenses around the Green Zone are a mess. The Netherlands evacuated its embassy in the Green Zone as well, and Dubai has canceled all flights into and out of Iraq until further notice. Will we be going back any time soon, or are we just going to throw in the towel and call our misadventure in Iraq a failed experiment? And even if we do get more deeply involved in the breakdown in Baghdad, who would the United States be siding with? The Iraquis have been holding elections, though how transparent and valid they are has been questioned. In that sense, we did sort of set up a democratic system before we pulled out. But the current situation doesn’t much resemble democracy in America. Say what you will about the divided state of America today, but at least we don’t have people unloading on embassies with RPGs. (Yet.)
The Post Millennial has some additional scenes from inside of the Presidential Palace, which was being sacked when I turned on the news this morning. The wheels do appear to be coming off, at least for now.
Here’s some of the action on YouTube. You can see people hiding as bullets strike near them and the places where some of the Green Zone concrete barriers have been pulled down.