Felicity Arbuthnot Uruknet.com 6/25/07

“On the day you kill me
You’ll find travel tickets in my pocket,
Travel tickets to peace,
To the fields and the rain,
To people’s conscience.
Don’t waste the tickets.”
Samih al-Qasim, Victims of a Map, Saqi Books.

It is just sixteen months since an Iraqi friend said of the demolition of the golden-domed Al Askari Shrine in Samarra: “We can cry no more. There are no tears left.” The Shrine was the resting place of the tenth and eleventh Imams, Ali al-Hadi and his son Hasan al-Askari. The twelfth Imam Muhammed al-Mahdi, is believed by Shias to have been born in Samarra and will return to save the world. A saviour was never more needed. The Shrine was destroyed after the US troops took control of the city.

Samarra, which, in the ninth century, was the Abbasid capital, was not alone a place of pilgrimage for the Shrine, but a legend in Arab history, revered for the artistic, literary and scientific splendours it brought the world, at the dawn of a millennium. Now, the slender, superb, hundred foot high minarets, which flanked the Shrine in their rich, gold and turquoise beauty have also been demolished. Like so much else in Mesopotamia’s wealth of haunting historical wonders, which have survived invasions from time immemorial, they have been consigned to dust under the watch of Uncle Sam’s crusaders.

From the country’s founding to Saddam Hussein, with the exception of the Mongol destruction (1258 and 1401 A.D.) every ruler or regime, whatever its political hue, has strived not only to preserve the past, but also to leave something more superb than the previous one, for future generations to inherit and to gaze in awe, as believed incumbent by the Caliphs. It has taken America and Britain to destroy or defile the irreplaceable, even that in honour of the Gods themselves: mosques, churches, temples, shrines, monasteries, convents and even the resting places of the dead. A unique, unforgivable wickedness.

Nearby the Shrine is the Malwiya (the spiral minaret) of the remains of the Great Mosque, built in A.D. 852 (although the Malwiya may have predated it) from bricks and clay, naturally golden from the glistening earth from which
they came, the Mosque with its ten metre high walls, nearly three metres thick and supported by forty-four towers. US soldiers made a snipers’ den at the top of the Malwiya, which resulted in it being seriously damaged. Sinners, the spiritual and those simply in wonder, have been tiptoeing in awe up the narrow, circular walkway of this gift to succeeding generations, for more than a thousand years – now, its mysticism too, is corrupted.

The destruction of the minarets, however, seems to bear an uncanny resemblance to events of that of the Shrine on 22nd February last year. The building had been sealed off and US and Iraqi troops were there from dawn. Residents assumed that dignitaries were to visit. Then the explosions felled the great gold topped Mosque, visible, glinting in golden splendour, under the sun, to travellers throughout history from thirty kilometres away, who, one might speculate, had whispered as they pointed, in reverance, as the drivers always did with me: “Samarra …”

Reports and rumours differ regarding last week’s desecration, but one fact seems consistent. The area around the Mosque had been sealed to cars and
pedestrians since February 2006. It was guarded day and night, the four
entrances also sealed and snipers were placed on rooftops around the site.
Samarra itself has restricted entrance, with US soldiers and security
personnel trained by them checking those going in or out. Yet somehow,
sufficient explosive to destroy the two minarets entered the city – and those who did it spirited themselves into a sealed area and a sealed Mosque compound. That Interior Ministry forces had, it seems, taken over security for the Shrine in April, a Ministry spectacularly failing a reputation for shining integrity, is surely just another coincidence.

Further, AMSI noted on 13th June, the day of the attack: “It is also worthy to mention that the explosion last year had happened after a severe political crisis between blocs involved in the political process (under) the occupation. After the elections … the establishment of the government was delayed at that time. This is quite similar to the political crisis faced by the government and parliament these days.”

Donald Rumsfeld is quoted as saying that “creative chaos” was a valid strategy in Iraq. Stirring dissent, “divide and rule” has been an invaders’ tactic since time immemorial – and none better at it than the US — and their British allies, from Belfast to Basra, where British operatives in Arab dress were caught with a car full of explosives (and a police station demolished by the British army to free them and no questions asked ever asked since.)

Coincidentally, the army ID tags of two of the three kidnapped US soldiers, Spc. Alex R.Jiminez and Pvt. Byron Fouty, were allegedly found in a house
near Samarra, four days before the minarets destruction. If this is true, it is not beyond belief that some US element or their militia might have thought to wreak revenge by furthering an inflammatory situation, setting more Iraqis against each other.

Last year a savvy Baghdadi friend said of Samarra’s tragedy: “The Americans keep us in a constant state of chaos, they call it ‘positive instability’. Another interesting allegation is that John Negroponte, who knows a bit about destabilisation, is alleged to have planned the attack in his “surprise” visit to Iraq, on June 12th, one day before the destruction, to destabilise the woeful US puppet “government” of “Prime Minister” Nuri al Mailiki.
( http:// www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=6021 )

Within twenty four hours of the second attack on Samarra’s Shrine, thirteen
Sunni mosques had been attacked from northern Mosul to southern Basra.

The cynic might speculate that the attacks (and they are ongoing) seemed co-ordinated in their instancy and thoroughness. Where were Britain’s representatives of the “finest army in the world”, as nine mosques, under their watch, in Basra and Basra Province, were fired or demolished? Between all the “surges”, “crackdowns”, “offences”, “sweeps”, “pacifications”, rings of steel, raids, roundups, door smashing, trashing and stealing, there are still enough explosives and expertise to demolish the sanctities of the sacred? Sanctities for beliefs which had been revered and respected by all creeds, many with roots from the time of Mohammed and Christ. The start of destruction followed immediately, the invading US/UK crusaders’ tanks. (And lest we forget, again a reminder that the British troops entered Basra with tanks and vehicles flying the St George flag: the crusaders’ flag and Bush, of course declared his illegal Iraq onslaught a “crusade” – twice.) There is also the matter of the bombing over the border in Iran: “This bomb had a British accent”, said a government spokesman. Who knows, but few would go in to shock if it proved correct.

In a seamless, almost instantaneous performance of singing from the same hymn sheet, Lt. General Martin Dempsey said the Samarra attack was: “clearly a signature attack of Al Qaeda” (where do they find these ludicrous expressions? It was Colin Powell and Dick Cheney who have signed bombs that fell on Iraq, not a trait attributed to Al Qaeda.) Major General Benjamin Moxon, repeated the statement almost word for word, as did US “Ambassador” Ryan Crocker, and General David Petreous. Never mind there had been no forensic – or any other kind of – investigation.

King Abdullah of Jordan called Samarra: “A heinous crime which offended all Muslims”. Iraq’s religious leaders were united in scepticism: Shaykh Al Khalisi told Shi’ia followers that the act was “a plan by the occupation to stir up sectarian strife”. Saleh al-Haidiri, Head of the Shi’ite Endownment in Iraq said it was: “A criminal act (aimed) at creating sectarian strife.” Sheikh Jawad al-Khaliss commented: “This is part of a vicious scheme to drag Iraqi people into sectarian strife”, with the Association of Muslim scholars also blaming the occupation forces and their loyalists. Muqtada al Sadr, whose running between hare and hounds has become somewhat dizzying, nevertheless blamed the: “… cursed American, Israeli scenario that aims to spread turmoil (and) hatred …” More than 3,000 Sadr loyalists staged a protest in Najaf, chanting, “No, no to America!”, “No, no to Israel!” and “No, no to sedition!” reported the Jordan Times.

Already the unrest has had spokespeople in Washington consolidating their desire for staying in Iraq, like South Korea, for perhaps, fifty years. The reasoning: because those backward Iraqis are not trained and organised to run their country yet. In 1989 (the last year before the embargo) the year’s UN Report called the country near first world, with explemporary medical, education, clean water and infrastructure.

Iraqis are well able to run their country but oil must pay America and Britain for this disasterous invasion, so any excuse or black operation goes, it is possible to surmise.

It would be naive not also at least to speculate that much of the strife, destruction, torment within Iraq, came from the top in the Pentagon and State Department, a point proved by the latest revelations regarding Abu Ghraib. With call for Bush’s impeachment and for Blair’s trial at the International Criminal Court, at the Hague mounting, along with their appointed apparatchiks (they have lost the right to be called Administrations) there must be many hoping that the genocide committed with them at the helm, might have a Judge who will respond to the thoughts of Professor Gary Leupp, writing in Counterpunch:

“And when they are finally on trial for their crimes, and plead insanity, we should take our cue from the Texas courts and say, ‘That’s no excuse.’”

Oh yes, and the US forces newest assault on people living in their own land is: “Operation Arrowhead Ripper”.

Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist and activist who has visited the Arab and Muslim world on numerous occasions. She has written and broadcast on Iraq, her coverage of which was nominated for several awards. She was also senior researcher for John Pilger’s award-winning documentary “Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq”. See her hompage: www.arbuthnot4iraq.blogspot.com She is a member of the Dr. Dhafir Support Committee Advisory Board.