When I recently expounded my own evaluation of the settlement of the Najaf stand-off, naturally I was serious about presenting it “for . . . refutation.” You can’t escape that in this medium, anyway, and no definitive answer that I’m aware of as to “winners” and “losers” has emerged as of yet in any case, or may ever. In the meantime, an interesting contribution to the debate comes from “M.”, writing for the Danish commentary newspaper Information (Once al-Sadr, always . . .). (more…)
Over on his excellent weblog “Informed Comment,” Prof. Juan Cole has already posted his boxscore for the three-week-old Najaf confrontation that is seemingly coming to a close through the intervention of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. The losers: the Americans and their Iraqi interim government. The big winner: Sistani. And for Shia insurgent Muqtada al-Sadr it all was a “wash.”
I don’t quite see things that way. I think this is quite an excellent outcome for the American side, even the same sort of “divine intervention” for them that the remnants of the Mahdi Army hiding within the Imam Ali shrine (falsely) claim to be for themselves. True, I am no learned professor, and I don’t watch, hear, or read the Arabic press. (I did know Arabic in the past, but that was a while ago; that capability is now, let’s say, in remission.) But the following argument I offer for your comment and refutation. (more…)
The day has finally come! – and even passed! I mean the day when the Polish occupation sector in Iraq officially came under Polish command, obviously a crucial event for our “Poles in Iraq” series.
Fortunately, I grabbed the relevant URLs while I still was in the US, so that I can still access the articles in the Polish press even if they are a day or two old. And now I am back at home-base in Amsterdam and can check out what they say.
Interestingly, the best account of the hand-over ceremony – and the issues surrounding the start of the Polish command – I find in the Krakow-based Dziennik Polski, in the article which appeared a few days ago entitled W Wiezy Babel, or “In the Tower of Babel.” As we will see, that reference to Babel is not just some headline-writer’s facile trick, taking advantage of the fact that this is all taking place in the area where the original Tower of Babel was said to have been built, but actually has some present-day relevance as well. (more…)