February 23, 2006
The Independent

Destruction of Holiest Shia Shrine Brings Iraq to the Brink of Civil War

by Patrick Cockburn

Iraq took a lethal step closer to disintegration and civil war yesterday after a devastating attack on one of the country's holiest sites. The destruction of the golden-domed Shia shrine in Samarra sparked a round of bloody sectarian retaliation in which up to 60 Sunni mosques were attacked and scores of people were killed or injured.

The bomb attack has enraged the majority Shia population, who regard the shrine in the same way that Roman Catholics view St Peter's in Rome.

In a number of respects civil war in Iraq has already begun. Many of the thousand bodies a month arriving in the morgues in Baghdad are of people killed for sectarian reasons. It is no longer safe for members of the three main communities the Sunni and Shia Arabs and the Kurds to visit each other's parts of the country.

"Iraq is in a Weimar period like Germany in the 1920s which will either end with the country disintegrating or in an authoritarian government taking power," said Ghassan Atiyyah, an Iraqi political commentator.

The Golden Mosque in Samarra, north of Baghdad, was attacked at 6.55am yesterday when men dressed in police uniform tied up the guards and planted explosives. . . .

The extent of Shia retaliation may also depend on the Iranian government. The Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, urged Shia not to seek revenge against Sunni Muslims, saying there were definite plots "to force the Shia to attack the mosques and other properties respected by the Sunni. Any measure to contribute to that direction is helping the enemies of Islam and is forbidden by sharia."

Instead Ayatollah Khamenei blamed the intelligence services of the US and Israel for being behind the bombs in Samarra.


Robert Fisk, "All This Talk of Civil War, and Now This Carnage. Coincidence?," Associated Press, March 3, 2004

Enver Masud, "Basra: Were the 'British' Undercover Agents Carrying Explosives? Why?," The Wisdom Fund, September 28, 2005

[Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed the United States and Israel on Thursday for the destruction of a Shiite shrine's golden dome in Iraq, saying it was the work of "defeated Zionists and occupiers."--"Iran: U.S., Israel Destroyed Iraqi Shrine," Associated Press, February 23, 2006]

[My name is Muhammad Al-Samarrai, I own an internet-cafe near the mosque, I sleep in my shop because I am worry about my computers from thieves.

8,30 (evening) joint forces of Iraqi ING and Americans asked me to stay in the shop and don't leave the area.

9,00 (evening) they left the area.

11,00 (evening) they came back and started to patrol the area until the morning.

6,00 (next day morning) ING leave the area .

6,30 Americans leave the area .

6,40 first explosion.

6,41 second explosion.

He confirmed again that the curfew starts at 8,00 (evening) until next day 6,00 (morning), INGs and the Americans will surround and patrol the city all that time.--"The night before the bombing: Two eyewitnesses," Baghdad Dweller, February 23, 2006]

[The shrine that is in Samarra that contains the three bodies of the last, you know, like the last three Imams was actually controlled by Sunnis and claimed by Sunnis. The people who run the shrine are Sunnis. And Samarra is a unique case in the Iraqi history, where there are Sunnis that claim that they are grandsons of the Prophet Muhammad, and they call themselves "Sayyid," the same word that the Shia call themselves. So the shrine is not threatened by Sunnis at all. And like all of the Sunnis, whether they were Sayyid or not, will be respecting it, because these are the places of the grandsons of the Prophet.

The irony is that the Imam Al-Askari himself said something before he died. He said, "my tomb" - or my shrine - "in Samarra will be a refuge for both Shia and Sunnis in the future."--Raed Jarrar, "Baghdad Imposes Daytime Curfew as Violence Escalates Following Shiite Mosque Bombing,", February 23, 2006]

[The last weeks in Iraq have been a PR disaster for the occupiers. . . .

The horrific attack which destroyed much of the Golden Mosque generated sectarian outrage which led to attacks on over 50 Sunni mosques. Many Sunni mosques in Baghdad were shot, burnt, or taken over. Three Imams were killed, along with scores of others in widespread violence.

This is what was shown by western corporate media.

As quickly as these horrible events began, they were called to an end and replaced by acts of solidarity between Sunni and Shia across Iraq.

This, however, was not shown by western corporate media. . . .

The Sunnis where the first to go to demonstrations of solidarity with Shia in Samarra, as well as to condemn the mosque bombings. Demonstrations of solidarity between Sunni and Shia went off over all of Iraq: in Basra, Diwaniyah, Nasiriyah, Kut, and Salah al-Din.

Thousands of Shia marched shouting anti-American slogans through Sadr City, the huge Shia slum area of Baghdad, which is home to nearly half the population of the capital city. Meanwhile, in the primarily Shia city of Kut, south of Baghdad, thousands marched while shouting slogans against America and Israel and burning U.S. and Israeli flags.--Dahr Jamail, "Who Benefits?," Iraq Dispatches, February 24, 2006]

[Hundreds of Iraqis are being tortured to death or summarily executed every month in Baghdad alone by death squads working from the Ministry of the Interior, the United Nations' outgoing human rights chief in Iraq has revealed.

. . . last July the morgue alone received 1,100 bodies, about 900 of which bore evidence of torture or summary execution. The pattern prevailed throughout the year until December,

. . . the activities of the death squads are pushing Iraq ever closer to a sectarian civil war.--Andrew Buncombe and Patrick Cockburn, "Iraq's death squads: On the brink of civil war," Independent, February 26, 2006]

[Ray McGovern does not rule out Western involvement in this week's Askariya mosque bombing in light of previous false flag operations that have advanced hidden agendas of the ruling elite.

During the mid-eighties, McGovern was one of the senior analysts conducting early morning briefings of the PDB one-on-one with the Vice President, the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.--"Former CIA Analyst: Western Intelligence May Be Behind Mosque Bombing,", February 26, 2006]

[Iraq's monumental catastrophe has become routine, shapeless, an incipient "civil war". Note how the American framework of disaster is now being portrayed as an Iraqi vs Iraqi war, as if the huge and brutal US occupation has nothing to do with the appalling violence in Iraq.--Robert Fisk, "Defeat is victory. Death is life," Independent, February 26, 2006]

[VIDEO: Iraq is not a sectarian society, but a tribal society. People are intermarried. Shiites and Sunnis marry each other. . . . Some form of militias and death squads want a civil war. There never has been a civil war in Iraq. The real question I ask myself is: who are these people who are trying to provoke the civil war? Now the Americans will say it's Al Qaeda, it's the Sunni insurgents. It is the death squads. Many of the death squads work for the Ministry of Interior. Who runs the Ministry of Interior in Baghdad? Who pays the Ministry of the Interior? Who pays the militia men who make up the death squads? We do, the occupation authorities.--Robert Fisk, "Somebody is trying to provoke a civil war in Iraq," ABC Lateline (Australia), March 2, 2006]

[Somebody is pushing the country to, you know, to get the option of civil war. Why? Who is the benefit? . . . I'm Iraqi. And I'm insisting I am Iraqi. I don't want to use these new titles (Sunni, Shia), have been entered Iraq after Bremer. When he entered Iraq he put this division for the Iraqi people. And we refuse it. . . . Oh, my God. Yeah, they are trying to tell you another story. The reality is there. We are brothers and sisters. We are Muslim, my dear. This is the identity of the nation. We are Muslim. But they are trying to divide the people, to go to the sub-identity, to make a cause of fighting or to provoke the people against each other. And we refuse it.--Faiza Al-Araji, "Iraqi Women Make Rare Trip to U.S. to Tell Their Stories of Life Under Occupation,", March 6, 2006]

Ali Rifat and Hamoudi Saffar, "Saddams pilots hunted down by death squads," Sunday Times, April 9, 2006

[ . . . the Salvador Option has been invoked in Iraq. This is the campaign of terror by death squads armed and trained by the US, which attack Sunnis and Shias alike. The goal is the incitement of a real civil war and the break-up of Iraq, the original war aim of Bush's administration. The ministry of the interior in Baghdad, which is run by the CIA, directs the principal death squads. Their members are not exclusively Shia, as the myth goes. The most brutal are the Sunni-led Special Police Commandos, headed by former senior officers in Saddam's Ba'ath Party. This unit was formed and trained by CIA "counter-insurgency" experts, including veterans of the CIA's terror operations in central America in the 1980s, notably El Salvador. . . .

The Boston Globe recently reported: "The FBI's counter-terrorism unit has launched a broad investigation of US-based theft rings after discovering that some of the vehicles used in deadly car bombings in Iraq, including attacks that killed US troops and Iraqi civilians, were probably stolen in the United States, according to senior government officials." --John Pilger, "The Salvador Option," New Statesman, May 3, 2006]

[According to a report by Amnesty International, which investigated the sales, the US government arranged for the delivery of at least 200,000 Kalashnikov machine guns from Bosnia to Iraq in 2004-05. But though the weaponry was said to be for arming the fledgling Iraqi military, there is no evidence of the guns reaching their recipient.--Ian Traynor, "US in secret gun deal," Guardian, May 12, 2006]

Ellen Knickmeyer, "Official: Guard Force Is Behind Death Squads," Washington Post, October 14, 2006

[Insurgents today blew up the two minarets of the famous Golden Dome Shiite shrine in Samarra--"Explosions destroy Shia shrine minarets," Independent, June 13, 2007]

Steve Watson, "Iraqis Accuse U.S. Of Bombing Shrine," Prison Planet, June 13, 2007

VIDEO: "Crying Wolf: Who is behind the Death Squads in Iraq,"

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