Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Extending the middle finger

More and more it seems to me the Shia majority bloc in Iraq is sending the U.S. occupiers signals of fed-up-ness. A day after Condoleeza Rice and Jack Straw flew in to scold Jaafari in person, talks on forming a government broke off. Pro-Jaafari demonstrations took place in Sadr City. And, most significantly (to me, at least), Saddam was charged with genocide for the 1988 Anfal campaign in which his government gassed the Kurds in retaliation for an uprising.

The subtext of the new charges is that the U.S. government backed Saddam during that period, supplying him with agricultural credits, chemical feedstocks, intelligence, and weapons. U.S. pressure restricted the initial trial to much older offenses exactly because focusing on the anti-Kurdish campaign would put the spotlight on the Reagan administration's backing in that era. The Anfal charges serve at least two purposes for the Shia bloc: a warning to the Bush administration, and an effort to disarm the Kurds, who have been the most vocal of the anti-Jaafari factions. (Kurds may not be terribly impressed.)

Bush, Rice, Rumsfeld, Blair, and Straw behave as if they were dealing with children. But colonialist mentality dies hard. Their humiliation at the hands of intransigent Shiites may simply feed a determination to attack Iran.



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