May 30 2008
Thousands of people heeded a call from anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to protest talks between Washington and Baghdad on keeping U.S. troops in Iraq beyond 2008, but turnout on Friday was lower than past marches.
Explaining the relatively low numbers, spokesmen for Sadr’s movement said the protests were widely spread through the country but security forces prevented marches in some areas.
In the Kadhimiya district in northwest Baghdad, hundreds of demonstrators with raised fists marched behind a banner asking the United Nations to “stand with the Iraqi people against this security deal between the government and the occupation”.
In the Shi’ite holy city of Najaf, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, several hundred demonstrators marched, chanting: “Out, out occupier” and “Iraq won’t be an American colony”.
Actually, what lowered turnout was all the horror stories about atrocities committed against fellow Muslims by the Sadrist ‘controlled’ Mahdi Army thugs. Interestingly the media is avoiding talking about the level of protest in Basra – the first place liberated from the Mahdi Army and Iraq’s second largest city. My guess is the protests there were a total bust beyond all other locations. And this will be the high point for these kinds of demonstrations. They will taper off each week from now on.
More people are quietly celebrating the defeat of the Mahdi Army than worrying about any long term agreements between Iraq and America. While this was another missed opportunity for the SurrenderMedia to find evidence of our mythical defeat in Iraq, it is not a driving issue for war weary Iraqis who are not swarming to support Sadr and his Sadrists any more. Politically the Sadrist movement has been severely damaged because they gave cover to cruel and violent animals.