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Relentless negativity

Posted by Richard on February 1, 2007

Since the Democrats have hitched their future to failure and retreat in Iraq, it’s not surprising that their PR operatives in the mainstream media have committed themselves to reporting the news from Iraq with a relentless negativity. In practice, this has mostly meant ignoring positive developments, battlefield victories, and enemy losses and setbacks, while providing a steady stream of stories about IEDs, American and civilian deaths, and Iraqi failures and shortcomings.

Occasionally, something positve is too big to ignore, such as the recent battle near Najaf, the largest since the U.S. invasion. A radical religious sect, mostly Shia, apparently intended to attack Najaf and massacre the Shia clergy supportive of the government, starting with Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani. Iraqi forces, backed up by U.S. troops and air support, killed between two and three hundred and captured hundreds more. Eleven Iraqi soldiers and two Americans were killed. A horrible and bloody act of terrorism was prevented, and a dangerous religious militia organization was destroyed — that’s a pretty positive story, right? Well, not if you’re determined to portray everything negatively (emphases added here and there):

Analysis: Najaf battle raises questions

By ROBERT H. REID Associated Press Writer
© 2007 The Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Accounts of the bloody battle near Najaf have produced more questions than answers, raising doubts about Iraqi security forces’ performance and concern over tensions within the majority Shiite community.

Missteps by Iraqi forces in battle raise questions
By Marc Santora
Published: January 30, 2007

BAGHDAD: Iraqi forces were surprised and nearly overwhelmed by the ferocity of an obscure renegade militia in a weekend battle near the holy city of Najaf and needed far more help from American forces than previously disclosed, American and Iraqi officials said Monday.

The Iraqis and Americans eventually prevailed in the battle. But the Iraqi security forces’ miscalculations about the group’s strength and intentions raised troubling questions about their ability to recognize and deal with a threat.

A victory, of sorts

… Across Iraq, many called for an end to Iraq’s bloodshed. Not least among them was Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of a powerful Shia party, who said “I condemn the killing of Sunnis just as I do Shia and any other Iraqi”. But the events in Najaf show how quickly a hitherto unnoticed group that threatens to bring further violence to Iraq can spring up. Worse still the emergence of this mainly Shia splinter group suggests that on top of Shia-Sunni enmity, power struggles among Shia are yet another problem that Iraq’s leaders must counter. And elsewhere in the country, the mindless small-scale killings that plague Iraq carried on. But the near-disaster at Ashura shows that, for a day at least, it could have been much worse.

Militias on rise in Iraq
Burst of splinter groups stiffens challenge for US

By Farah Stockman and Bryan Bender, Globe Staff | January 31, 2007

WASHINGTON — The messianic Soldiers of Heaven militia that fought US and Iraqi troops in one of the fiercest battles of the war Sunday is among the more than two dozen extremist militias operating across Iraq that are fast becoming a powerful, and hidden, new enemy.

Ashura pilgrims attacked in Iraq, 40 killed

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Bombers killed 36 people in two attacks on majority Shi’ite worshippers marking the religious ritual of Ashura on Tuesday amid heightened tensions between Iraq’s Shi’ites and once politically dominant minority Sunnis.

Fearing a possible strike by insurgents, Iraqi authorities had deployed 11,000 police and soldiers to the holy Shi’ite city of Kerbala, focus of the commemoration that marks the death in battle of the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson there 1,300 years ago.

The fears were fuelled [sic] by the discovery of what Iraqi officials said was a plot by a messianic Muslim cult to target senior Shi’ite clerics in the holy city of Najaf south of Baghdad at the climax of Ashura this week.

Iraqi security forces backed by U.S. tanks, helicopters and jet fighters fought a fierce day-long battle with the "Soldiers of Heaven" near the city on Sunday in which one U.S. helicopter crashed. Iraqi officials said the cult’s leader was killed.

Mideast tensions dominate Ashura ritual

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Attackers killed 40 Shi’ite Muslim pilgrims in Iraq on Tuesday and Hezbollah’s leader warned of the threat of civil war in Lebanon as tensions across the Middle East overshadowed the annual rite of Ashura.

In most of the Arab world the climax of the ritual, in which Shi’ites mourn the slaying over 13 centuries ago of the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson Imam Hussein, went off peacefully.

But the talk from worshippers and preachers alike was of impending struggle and conflict.

None of this negativity was enough for the rabidly leftist "media critics" at Media Matters, though. They’re angry that the reporting wasn’t negative enough:

Media uncritically reported Bush’s statement touting Iraqi success in Najaf

Summary: Numerous media outlets reported — as President Bush claimed in an interview on National Public Radio — that Iraqi troops took the lead in the battle near Najaf against religious militia the Soldiers of Heaven, without noting that the Iraqis were reportedly "overwhelmed" until U.S. forces joined them.

The barking moonbat outlets, quoting "authoritative" Iraqi and Arab sources, have already begun spinning this as an atrocity and cover-up — just simple, peaceful tribesmen on a pilgrimage attacked without provocation by the Iraqi army and then massacred by American planes and helicopters.

Almost none of the news stories mentioned, and none analyzed, what struck me as some rather important information about this "Soldiers of Heaven" cult: They’re a messianic group that wants to hasten the return of the mahdi, or 12th imam, and thought killing the Najaf clerics would help bring this about. The group’s presence in the area expanded greatly in recent months, and they set up sizable compound. There were some interesting discoveries at the compound:

BAGHDAD, Iraq — The ruins of the Soldiers of Heaven compound in Najaf yielded evidence Tuesday that the group had amassed huge wealth and weapons storehouses virtually under the noses of the Iraqi and U.S. militaries.

McClatchy Newspapers correspondent Qassim Zein entered the compound Tuesday afternoon, more than 24 hours after the battle ended.

He found a beauty salon for the women who lived there. New air conditioners kept the building cool, and outside was a large swimming pool. Expensive furniture was everywhere.

Zein said a police official told him a search of the compound uncovered $8 million to $10 million in U.S. currency. U.S. Army officials took the money, along with computers and documents, he told Zein.

A spokesman for U.S. forces referred questions to the Iraqi government. A State Department spokesman had no comment.

Zein counted more than 60 vehicles, including pickups and sedans. Another four large trucks were thought to have hauled weapons.

So this small, messianic cult somehow suddenly obtained vast weapons stockpiles, luxurious facilities, and mountains of U.S. currency (maybe counterfeit hundreds like those that Hezbollah passes out?). And their goal is to bring about the apocalypse by hastening the return of the mahdi. I can’t imagine where they got all these resources — maybe it was someone *cough*Ahmadinejad*cough* who shares their goal.

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