Remember, This Is What We're Fighting For
Ah yes, its that time of year again isnt it. Ashurah. One of those quaint little Islamic festivals like the Devil Stoning during the Hajj which kills hundreds every year. No different from a happy innocent dance around the maypole on the green in a quiet english village.
This is the Shia variety of the celebrations, of course. The one where they flagellate themselves with Zanjeer to show their devotion to, erm, well blood and guts in general really. See how much this little child is enjoying being smeared with blood. Mmmmm, just like the Lucky Dip at your village fete, right kids?
The Shia. That's right, them. The same Shia we spent years and endless amounts of taxpayers money protecting from Saddam with the 'No-Fly Zone'. Our putative Iraqi allies, who nonetheless seem to have mysteriously failed to shed their own blood in the fighting the way the Kurds did and have received rather more in the way of concessions than the poor bloody Kurds did. In the midst of the euphoria over the roaring victories over the Republican Guard I remember coining the following line which proved to be extremely prophetic and accurate even if I do say so myself:
'Q: What do the Iraqi Kurds and Mrs Dubya have in common? They're both going to get fucked by the White House real soon.'
Now whether or not that offends some American readers, I don't think anyone could argue that it is, nonetheless, an accurate if somewhat profane way of describing proceeding events...
Well, although I suppose I am being unfair to the Shia in implying that they were somehow deficient in their share of the fighting. They did of course shed some blood - just not on our side. In fact of course the Iraqi Army did its share of, erm, intense diplomatic negotiation as well, as American troops struggled to contain the situation in Najaf. And recently we've seen just how helpful letting hundreds of Shia militants go scot free has been to the prospects of future operations against other Islamic lunatics in the area is likely to prove. Way to go, 'allies'!
I do, before anyone asks, subscribe (however reluctantly) to the view that we must 'see it through' in Iraq. But every day I wonder just what on earth we are seeing it through for. People as savage and barbaric as the Shia? For democracy, tainted as it is in Iraq by a new Constitution which contains huge swathes of Shar'ia law which ought to shame us to our core?
Let's see it through, yes. But the day the last British soldier comes home from Iraq cannot come soon enough for me.