Monday, August 09, 2004


Iraq: Slipping Into Darkness

Will al Sadr be Iraq's next ruler? Does Iraqi democracy mean an Islamic Theocracy? Stay tuned for Mr. Bush's next foreign affairs triumph.

Deepening anti-U.S. rage casts doubt on Iraq leaders' ability to restore order

By Tom Lasseter
Knight Ridder Newspapers

BAGHDAD, Iraq - After the past two days of fighting in southern and central Iraq, the difference between firebrand cleric Muqtada al Sadr and Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi couldn't be any more clear: Al Sadr has an army, and Allawi does not.

In Iraq, security is politics. When Allawi took office, the self-styled strongman lost little time before declaring that his government wouldn't tolerate the insurgency that's swept the country.

But as in previous battles, when al Sadr's Mahdi Army militia began to overrun Najaf and several neighborhoods from Baghdad to Basra, the Iraqi police force and national guard fought for a little while, then ran.

And as in previous battles, Iraq's Achilles' heel was revealed: To defend their country, Allawi and the interim government must go to the American military, an institution that's widely reviled by many Iraqis as an occupational force run amok...

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