Saturday, August 14, 2004


British journalist released in less than 24 hours

The Scotsman reports,

James Brandon, 23, was released after a few tense hours of negotiation with aides to militant Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The cleric had demanded Brandon be spared death and freed.

Brandon was taken to al-Sadr’s local office where he held an impromptu news conference. He thanked the kidnappers and al-Sadr’s aides for working for his release. The London resident declined to discuss circumstances of his release.

"I’m OK, I’m recovering," Brandon said. "I’ve been released thanks to (al-Sadr’s) Mahdi Army, because they intervened and negotiated with the kidnappers."

I noted in the original post the unusual Shia make-up of the group of abductors. It is probably because of this that Sadr was so effective in securing Brandon's release. In any case, it's a coup for Sadr in the propaganda wars.

And what has the U.S. been up to?

US planes bombed targets in the city of Fallujah for the second day, killing six Iraqis including two children, hospital officials said.
Fallujah is effectively in the hands of the Sunnis; U.S. forces don't enter there. So the Allawi government is permitting the U.S. to bomb one of its "own" cities?

Meanwhile, Juan Cole notes Sadr's demand for the resignation of the Allawi government, as reported in the Gulf Daily News:

"I advise the dictatorial, agent government to resign ... the whole Iraqi people demands the resignation of the government ... they replaced Saddam (Hussein) with a government worse than him.

"I will not leave this holy city," the spokesman quoted Sadr as telling supporters who chanted "no, no to America". "We will remain here defending the holy shrines till victory or martyrdom."

Cole also notes large demonstrations in the major cities of Iraq.

Mass protests against the US assault on the sacred Shi'ite Muslim city of Najaf broke out in five Iraqi cities yesterday, with some demonstrators calling for interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to step down.

In one of the biggest protests, enraged Iraqis in the southern town of Diwaniya swarmed over the local office of his political party, ripping down signs and throwing rocks.

The military offensive by US and Iraqi forces against militiamen of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr has inflamed passions among Shi'ites.

With the installation of the puppet government of Allawi, the parallels between the situation in Iraq and Vietnam have increased rather than diminished. This is so obvious that the media are studiously ignoring it.

Related post: British journalist taken hostage

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