Iraq's problems solved by Iraqis
The first great victory for Iraq and for the Iraqi people came yesterday with the breakthrough in the negotiations between the Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani and Moqtada al Sadr in the besieged city of Najaf.
After three weeks of bitter fighting between al Sadr's Mehdi Army, US and Iraqi Armed Forces, which has left hundreds of people dead, al Sistani managed to persuade the Shiite radicals to lay down their weapons in return for safe passage out of the city, freedom for al Sadr, compensation for the victims of the fighting, a withdrawal of foreign troops from the city, the establishment of rule by Iraqi police, a declaration that the city is to be free of weapons and the holding of a census before elections.
Eye witnesses report that the laying down of arms is being made in token fashion, with many militia men taking their weapons away with them in bags and others storing heavier weapons in houses.
Basically, this gives the rebels everything they had been fighting for and if it is a victory for Iraq and the Iraqi people, it is also a defeat for the United States of America which sees clearly that despite its military hardware and hundreds of billions of dollars spent during its murderous and disastrous campaign in Iraq, it does not have the capacity to break the will of determined fighters with little more than handguns to fight with.
The American soldiers should never have been in Najaf in the first place and the fact that they were there, trying to snatch al Sadr near the Imam Ali Mosque, one of the Holiest of shrines for the Shiite believers, is another clear example of the blind arrogance which follows Washington wherever it sets its feet outside the shores of the United States of America.
Washington has been outmaneuvered in a region it wholly and completely misunderstands, in a culture which is alien to it and in a country into which it should never have ventured in the first place.
The result of the deal is that the US Armed Forces failed totally in their main objective - to capture al Sadr - and leave the city with the US State Department saying it does not understand the full details of the peace deal.
A victory for Iraq, Iraqi problems solved by Iraqis with the murderous invasion force of Washington in full retreat. A telling epitaph for the foreign policy of George W. Bush and the clique of corporate elitists which gravitate around Washington and dictate its external policy like a third world banana republic which Bush has turned the United States into.
The Ilyushin 20 (Il-20) military electronic reconnaissance aircraft of the Russian Air Force with 14 servicemen on board that went off radar screens off the coast of Syria was shot down by Syrian air defense systems over the Mediterranean Sea