Monday, May 21, 2007
The arrogance of such an action, if true, is remarkable. As noted by Pat Buchanan a few years ago, a President that presumes to target others for death makes himself vulnerable. But, of course, Bush is worth more to the cause of Political Islam alive than dead. No doubt, leaders like Sadr and Nasrallah find themselves frustrated by having to spend an inordinate amount of their time explaining it to their more passionate followers.
The US Army tried to kill or capture Muqtada al-Sadr, the widely revered Shia cleric, after luring him to peace negotiations at a house in the holy city of Najaf, which it then attacked, according to a senior Iraqi government official.
The revelation of this extraordinary plot, which would probably have provoked an uprising by outraged Shia if it had succeeded, has left a legacy of bitter distrust in the mind of Mr Sadr for which the US and its allies in Iraq may still be paying. "I believe that particular incident made Muqtada lose any confidence or trust in the [US-led] coalition and made him really wild," the Iraqi National Security Adviser Dr Mowaffaq Rubai'e told The Independent in an interview.
It is not known who gave the orders for the attempt on Mr Sadr but it is one of a series of ill-considered and politically explosive US actions in Iraq since the invasion. In January this year a US helicopter assault team tried to kidnap two senior Iranian security officials on an official visit to the Iraqi President. Earlier examples of highly provocative actions carried out by the US with little thought for the consequences include the dissolution of the Iraqi army and the Baath party.
The attempted assassination or abduction took place two-and-a-half years ago in August 2004 when Mr Sadr and his Mehdi Army militiamen were besieged by US Marines in Najaf, south of Baghdad.
Dr Rubai'e believes that his mediation efforts - about which he had given the US embassy, the American military command and the Iraqi government in Baghdad full details - were used as an elaborate set-up to entice the Shia leader to a place where he could be trapped.