Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Almost 10 Muharram, the date of 3Ashura (عاشوراء), the holiest Shi'a-specific holiday. What will happen in Iraq?

We've had a long history of violence directed at Shi'a religious sites and practices since the US invasion. (I'm not saying there was no violence against Sunnis, or that this is only since then, but let's focus for a moment on 3Ashura' and Shi'a sites and practices.) What do we think will happen this year in Iraq?

Let's replay previous years.

Last year we had a military assault on Shi'a worshippers, killing 60 as they prayed with "bombs, rockets and guns", 11 killed by a targeted IED in a market area, 15 killed by another targeted IED while processing and 5 killed in individual acts of murder all in Diyala province. In Baghdad targeted IEDs, anti-vehicular rockets and heavy assault rifles along with anti-personnel firearms (ie. pistols and small rifles) were used to attack pilgrims' buses and processions and one area was shelled with mortars during prayer.

Also, before the holiday proper, the US and Iraqi military attacked an al-Qaeda-funded Shiite sect that planned to commit millenarian-style attacks on Najaf. Apparently the cult leader claimed to be the Mahdi. 263 people were killed and 500 more imprisoned.

So. What pleasant things shall we expect this year on the anniversary of the Martyrdom of Husayn?

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