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Najaf and Fallujah - A tale of two Cities and two strategies

There could be no other two cities which are so similar yet so different. Both cities are inhabited by Arab Muslims. Both are in Iraq. Both are restive and have fierce anti-American and anti-Western sentiment. Both have been patrolled by our Marines. Both have been the flashpoints of focused American military action. But here the similarity ends.

Fallujah has been battered in earnest by the Marines in an engagement that involved strafing the terrorists holed up there with helicopter gunships (the blackhawks), blowing up of bridges, storming of homes that the terrorists had converted in to hideouts and blowing up mosques that were used to stockpile ordnance and weaponry. Fallujah also had factories, not like the ones other cities all over the world have, nut those for assembling car bombs and making suicide vests.

While the Shiites (at least some of them) have limited themselves to making loud noises of protest against us, while other are silent supporters, and some other are vocal supporters of the American presence. The Shiites have so far held themselves back while tackling the Sunnis. Once they have the critical mass in terms f firepower to take on the Sunnis, they will crush them utterly. Iraq is going to witness a bloodbath that we have not seen in recent times.

This strategic understanding on part of the Shiites of the shape of things to come make them hold their firepower against us. And they are holding back against going all out for the Sunnis as we are still there to do the dirty job for them. But once we are out of the way and the Shiites develop sufficient firepower to match their willpower, the Sunnis are going to have it. All this may seem to be bullcrap today, but the coming few months will bear this out.

Photo Credits: chinadaily

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Najaf also had armed insurgents, but no terrorists. We would differentiate the Najaf insurgents from the terrorists of Fallujah as they snarled, but did not bite as the Fallujah baddies did. Both of them wanted us out of their cities and out of Iraq, but the terrorists of Fallujah had made known their extent of their viciousness by lynching four of our citizens who were in Iraq as private security guards to provide security to the reconstruction effort. The savagery of this action in April of 2004 shook the world when we witnessed the charred bodies of the murdered guards hung up on a bridge for the world at large to see. The terrorists of Fallujah sent a message that this was a no hold barred war against us.

Quite to the contrary, there was no such barbarism in Najaf, where the insurgents had holed up in the holiest of holy Imam Ali shrine in the center of the town. They did not plant IEDs on the roads. They sniped at us, but the casualty rate was far lower on both sides and there was no naked display of barbarism as it was at Fallujah.

Why did both sides hold their fire at Najaf, while they went all out at Fallujah, Qaim, and other cities in Al Anbar?

The reason is obvious. The Najaf insurgents were those who suffered under Saddam Hussein as also for one thousand three hundred years of Sunni domination of the region. The Shiites of Najaf and all across Southern Iraq have been the silent supporters of the American action, although they keep up their image as anti-American by referring to us as occupiers and infidels.

In the long run, they Shiites know that they will have to lock horns with the Sunnis as we may depart someday or at least reduce our presence to a token one. The Sunnis are not going anywhere and the Shiites and Sunnis will have to settle scores with each other. The Muslim method of settling scores being through the spilling of blood and the exacting of blood price, the defeated party is always done in for. The Shiites know this quite very well. So they are keeping their gunpowder dry in spite of the tantrums of their mercurial leader Muqtada Al Sadr. The Sunnis have no such inhibition, neither against us or against the Shiites. Hence the Sunnis inflict fatalities on us as well as the Shiites. While the Shiites (at least some of them) have limited themselves to making loud noises of protest against us, while other are silent supporters, and some other are vocal supporters of the American presence. The Shiites have so far held themselves back while tackling the Sunnis. Once they have the critical mass in terms f firepower to take on the Sunnis, they will crush them utterly. Iraq is going to witness a bloodbath that we have not seen in recent times.

This strategic understanding on part of the Shiites of the shape of things to come make them hold their firepower against us. And they are holding back against going all out for the Sunnis as we are still there to do the dirty job for them. But once we are out of the way and the Shiites develop sufficient firepower to match their willpower, the Sunnis are going to have it. All this may seem to be bullcrap today, but the coming months, after the December elections will bear this out.

Story Credits: War on Jihad team

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