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Sunday, April 11, 2004

Caroline Glick on Hez b'Allah's Iraqi Campaign

al-Sadr: "I am the striking arm for Hizbullah and Hamas in Iraq because the fate of Iraq and Palestine is the same"
This week it finally happened. Hizbullah has come out of the closet and launched a full-scale military campaign against US-led forces in Iraq.

Two weeks after the US shelved its sanctions against Hizbullah sponsor Syria, and as the US remains silent in the face of increased Iranian assertiveness in advancing the mullocracy's Manhattan Project, the cat jumped out of the bag.

Ushering in his fight against the US, Hizbullah-Iranian front man Moqtada al-Sadr told his followers last Friday, "I am the striking arm for Hizbullah and Hamas in Iraq because the fate of Iraq and Palestine is the same." Under the spell of Sadr's call to "terrorize" the Americans, Shi'ite militiamen launched attacks in several cities at once. Militarily, the results have been mixed but have served to cause a political maelstrom by spooking US coalition partners into reconsidering their involvement in Iraq.

Hizbullah's appearance in Iraq is not a surprise. Although Sadr's offensive has been sudden, it followed a year-long buildup of Hizbullah's organizational, propaganda, and military apparatuses in Iraq.

In the weeks before the US-led invasion last March, Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah was already calling for suicide bombings against US forces in the event that they went through with the invasion. Shortly after the fall of Saddam's regime, Hizbullah opened offices in Basra and Safwan.

While press coverage of Sadr has portrayed him as a young firebrand who acts autonomously, his connections to Hizbullah and to Iran are long-standing. Nasrallah is personally tied to Sadr's family. In 1976, he studied under Sadr's father Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr in Najaf. Back in Lebanon, Nasrallah joined the Shi'ite Amal militia when it was led by its founder, Sadr's uncle Musa.

Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim supporters of Iraqi radical leader Moqtada al-Sadr carry
his posters and those of Lebanon's Hizbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah (L)
and late Palestinian leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (C) in Beirut April 6, 2004.
Around 200 Iraqis living in Lebanon held a demonstration in Beirut to show
their support for Sadr, who is in a standoff with U.S. forces. REUTERS/Str

Aside from his personal ties to Nasrallah, Sadr takes his direction from Ayatollah Henri, one of the most ardent extremists in Iranian ruling circles. And on the family level, Sadr's aunt is reportedly the first lady of Iran, Mrs. Muhammad Khatami. Iranian Revolutionary Guards reportedly comprise the backbone of Sadr's fighting force.

At the same time that Hizbullah, like Sadr, was establishing itself in post-Saddam Iraq, mysterious terrorists were systematically killing moderate Shi'ite clerics who were working with the US. First came the April 2003 assassination of Abdul Majid al-Khoei and Haider Kelidar in the Ali Mosque in Najaf. Sadr is the chief suspect in Khoei's murder. Then in August, Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim was murdered outside the same mosque. Both Khoei and Hakim were considered moderates who wished for a secular, multiethnic Iraq to succeed Saddam's dictatorship.

Interestingly, each time another pro-coalition Shi'ite leader has been killed, Nasrallah has studiously called for civil war between Sunnis and Shi'ites to be averted at all cost. This message became almost hysterical in the aftermath of the attack on Shi'ite worshipers in Karbala and Baghdad during the Ashoura holiday in early March; 140 worshipers were killed in the bombings.

The day of the bombings, Nasrallah took to the airwaves on Hizbullah TV's Al-Manar satellite network and called for calm at all costs. Referring to Shi'ite-Sunni sectarian strife as "a strategic danger," he alleged a "conspiracy" to sow hatred between the two groups and insinuated that the Mossad had something to do with the bombings.

In the same address, Nasrallah attacked the Sunni Taliban, claiming they had killed more Sunnis than Shi'ites during their period in power in Afghanistan. He argued that because of their murderousness towards fellow Muslims, the Taliban were responsible for the US takeover of the country and the establishment of a pro-American government that stands opposed to jihad. A similar event, he argued, must be prevented from occurring in Iraq.

Michael Ledeen, an Iran expert at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, explained that defeating US-led forces in Iraq is the top priority for Teheran and, by extension, its terrorist proxies. "For Iran, the struggle against the US in Iraq is an existential struggle."

As with everything Caroline Glick writes, read it all.