Assasination in Najaf – Who done it ?

Every action has a motivation; one can safely assume this axiom applicable to any rational human being. As in every crime primary question posed are, who is the culprit, and why (motivation)? If the identity of the culprit is known, one then proceeds to identify the motive — otherwise the various motive are established first, which is then used to explore the identity of the possible culprits. In this case of assassinating a leading moderate Shi’a Scholar, where the identity of the perpetrators are concealed, the primary question to be asked is what threat did Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim posed, the leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and to whom. Was the nature of threat direct or indirect, was it imminent or something that may become significant in the long term.

The Mass Media in the west wasted no time in pointing fingers at three possible suspects — the so called Saddam loyalists — the radical Islamic groups — finally the rival and more radical Shia group led by Moqtadar-As-Sadr.

The rival Shia group can be safely excluded entirely on the basis that the explosion occurred near the Mosque of Imam Ali, in addition the bombing targeted indiscriminately hundreds of ordinary Shia’s, and no devout Shia would ever contemplate this sort of action. For sure rivalry in the past has led to individuals being selectively targeted at convenient places but none has ever been like the recent bombings in Najaf.

As for the radical Islamic groups, there appears to very little apparent motivation for them to have carried out this assassination. Ayatollah Hakim did accept cautious cooperation with the US, done more out of pragmatism in opposing Saddam Hussein rather then having any sort of genuine conviction in the benevolent nature of the US government. His group SICRI nominally participated in the ineffective Iraqi National Congress founded by the US in the early 1990! s. Prior to the war there was some level of contact with the Americans through his representative in UK (Dr. Hamid Al-Bayti) and his political advisor met the US embassy officials in Kuwait. Nothing concrete ever materialised. Whatever the relationship was, most certainly he was no homegrown puppet like Chalabi, nor can he be considered to be a staunch ally of the US. Equally the US had a very cautious approach due to his strong connection with the Iranian government for the last two decades, when he was operating from there in self Exile. Even if the Islamic groups wanted to assassinate him, they would not have resorted to such indiscriminate method where many innocent ordinary Muslims would be killed, also bearing in mind the strong presence of blind following (Taqlid) within the Shia School of thought makes very little sense to target the ordinary followers. Removal of the Imam surgically would more or less result in the collapse of its movement, or at least reduces its influence considerably.

As for the Saddam loyalists, assumed to be the primary component of the non-Islamic faction is deliberately misleading. The media has intentionally deployed such a term in order to reduce the significance of this group in the minds of the ordinary Iraqi’s. Most of these Iraqi’s are fighting out of Nationalistic sentiments, which may include some of the Bathist supporters, along with the Sunnis, Shia’s, Kurds and other ethnic groups. It is not just Iraqi nationalism or Islamic tendencies, that propel the Arabs/Muslims to come and fight in Iraq, but anti-American sentiment that has been built up over the last three decades due to its one sided foreign policy in the region. Ask any ordinary Arab/Muslim, they will tell you America is father and Israel is its illegitimate child.

Uncharacteristically out of all the recent bombings from the Jordanian Embassy to the UN head quarter! s, Saddam Hussein openly denied his own involvement in this occasion. Most of their limited resources are tied in resisting the US forces and targeting other western interests. For them it would make very little sense to target the Grand Ayatollah and isolate Shia population, if a native Iraqi needed to be targeted, the belligerent collaborators like Chalabi, new Iraqi police forces etc are far more suitable.

Most important evidence (or absence of) is that there was no hint of any deal being struck between the US and Ayatollah Hakim, to the extent that would undermine the Iraqi resistance movement (Islamic and the Nationalists), if there was such an attempt for sure the Pentagon or the US State Department would have released it by now, and pointed the finger at the Iraqi resistance movements with this solid evidence. On the flip side it may be that the assassination was not due to any threat posed by the Ayatollah Hakim but rather was designed to ignite civil war within Iraq. That would be counter productive for the resistance movement, as it would destabilise Iraq and resulting in the real possibility of its disintegration in the future.

Whilst the finger pointing in the western press has been in one direction, nobody has been courageous enough to highlight the possibility that this was the work of either the CIA or the MI5. Arrogance and self-righteous view prevents them from contemplating the question. Divide and conquer was the trait of the British colonialism, even recently did we not witness the media "reports" of the uprising in Basra during the early phase of the war? The CIA has deployed assassination and covert operation for decades. Returning to the issue of motive, vast majority of the press in the Islamic countries perceived the bombing was aimed at creating a Shia-Sunni conflict in Iraq. Such a conflict could only benefit the US forces given the current circumstances. Where the resistance movements are all coordinating and concentrating all their efforts to eliminate the foreign aggressors. A c! ivil war would surely reduce this threat significantly. Establish the motive and the identification of culprit becomes routine.

One other point of view that needed to be considered is that the assassination may not have carried out by none of the conflicting parties present in Iraq. It could be the product of the dynamics of the regional power struggle. Ayatollah Hakim was seen as the voice of Iran within Iraq. The reluctance of the US to take its war on to the soils of Iran has already frustrated the only the party in the region with an interest in escalating the conflict, Israel. Hence if the US were to strike some sort of deal with the Ayatollah, which could materialise in the stabilisation of Iraq, with the Shia groups emerging as the dominant faction. Which would likely to form a close alliance with Iran, and with the Shia’s (Hizbollah) in Lebanon producing a powerful Shia axis. Syria would also be absorbed since she already has very good relations with Iran. Something that is clearly not favourable to Israel. Hence this may simply be a pre-emptive strike by Israel to prevent any kind of stability fermenting in Iraq. The only party that would benefit from the escalation an widening of the conflict, which she has been constantly urging directly and indirectly through the powerful neo-cons and various influential pro-Zionist lobby groups within the US.