Friday, August 04, 2006

A Region Angered

The pounding of Lebanon and the un-evenhanded response of world powers to the crisis is awakening a dangerous giant in southern and central Iraq, where firebrand leader and no friend of the United States Muqtada al-Sadr has called for a "million-man march in support of Lebanon and Hezbollah." The demonstration will be held after Friday prayers in Sadr City, a Shiite suburb. Thousands of people, some of them reportedly wearing the white shrouds symbolizing their willingness to martyr themselves, are heading for the area. This doesn't bode well for the U.S. troops in the country, or for the Iraqi government they back. Already, U.S. forces have tightened the noose around Sadr City, expecting trouble. Yesterday, Shiites in Saudi Arabia, where public demonstrations are banned, were nevertheless held, and the authorities did not crack down.

Through miscalculation and perhaps a blind faith in the umbrella of U.S. protection, Israel has engendered a mobilization of Shiites on a scale perhaps never seen before. Thanks to its refusal, along with that of the U.S. and Great Britain, to see how aggravating the invasion of Lebanon and how incendiary the slaughter of almost a thousand civilians have been, the Jewish state has possibly made itself more exposed and vulnerable than it ever has been since it was created in 1948.

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