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Institute for Public Accuracy
AUGUST 13, 2004
3:45 PM
CONTACT:  Institute for Public Accuracy
Sam Husseini, (202) 332-5055
David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
U.S. in Najaf: Putting Out the Fire with Gasoline?

WASHINGTON - August 13 -

    Ibrahimi is the director of Iraqi Human Rights Watch in Karbala. He is with a delegation of religious leaders traveling from Karbala to Najaf. Ibrahimi said: "We want to ask for a peaceful solution to this problem, and for the fighting to stop."

    Currently in Baghdad, Nash is a member of the Christian Peacemaker Team, which has been active in Iraq since April 2003. They have been in communication with, and have been working with, Iraqi Human Rights Watch and Hussain Ibrahimi. Nash said today: "Tensions have been escalating here in Baghdad. There have been eruptions of violence, though things have been somewhat quieter today."

    Kadhim, originally from Najaf where he has family, joined in the uprising against Saddam Hussein following the 1991 Gulf War. After the U.S. failed to back the Iraqis trying to overthrow the Iraqi dictator, Kadhim went to Saudi Arabia, where he was detained in a camp for over a year. He is now teaching at the University of California at Berkeley and finishing a doctorate in Islamic studies. He said today: "Far from being unexpected, this round of violence is not the mystery that some interested parties are trying to make it out to be. Certain circles in the government of Iyad Allawi and its apologists have used the sorry state of affairs in the Shia areas to advance an American-inspired hope to drag Iran into the fray of confusion in Iraq, while others are still clinging to the claim that Moqtada Al-Sadr is a hardliner who is impossible to appease. Bluntly speaking, both claims are misleading and far from a sound analysis of the facts on the ground."

    In Washington, they are among the organizers of a protest in front of the Iraqi Embassy, 1801 P Street, NW, (one block east of Dupont Circle) at 4 p.m. today. Elder is with the D.C. Anti-War Network. Shallal is founder of Iraqi-Americans for Peaceful Alternatives. He said today: "The continued presence of U.S. troops in Najaf is creating widespread resentment among Iraqis of both the U.S. and of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, evidenced by the thousands of Shia protesting the U.S. military violence."

    Murphy is with the women's peace group Code Pink. She said today: "The interim Iraqi government, rather than acting to protect the holy city of Najaf and its people, has sanctioned the U.S. actions. It has also dealt a massive blow to freedom by closing down the Baghdad office of Al Jazeera, one of the most important media outlets in the Arab world. These two issues are not unconnected -- Al Jazeera is often the only media outlet with journalists in Iraq's conflict zones, and without Al Jazeera's coverage it will be difficult to find out anytime soon about what is really happening on the ground in Najaf or elsewhere in Iraq where fighting is ongoing."


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