Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Juan Cole -- Direct & indirect effects of terrorism

It appears that up to 1,000 people may have died in today's stampede during a Shiite religious festival in Baghdad. This has definitely been a catastrophe. In one sense, it may have been an accident (similar to deadly panics that periodically occur in other large-scale religious pilgrimages, in crowds at soccer stadiums, etc.), in that whatever event directly triggered this stampede wasn't consciously intended to do so. At the same time, it was also a clear and predictable result of the long-term terrorist strategy of the Iraqi "insurgency," which has included systematic attacks targeting civilians involved in all the major Shiite religious festivals for the past several years--including a previous mortar attack on this procession. Juan Cole's analysis cuts to the heart of the matter.

--Jeff Weintraub


Juan Cole ("Informed Comment")
Wednesday, August 31, 2005

1000 May be Dead in Kadhimiyah Stampede

The mortar attack by guerrillas on the Shiite worshippers heading for the shrine of Imam Musa al-Kadhim had an unfortunate side effect. Later on, someone shouted that there was a suicide bomber in the crowd. A stampede ensued that has killed some 800 persons and the death toll is expected to rise to 1000.

The stampede was a highly unfortunate result of nerves, rumor and mob behavior, and this incident is certainly an outcome of the guerrilla strategy of spreading fear and terror in Iraq.

posted by Juan @ 8/31/2005 10:21:00 AM


Juan Cole ("Informed Comment")
Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The BBC is reporting Wednesday morning that guerrillas fired mortar shells at Shiite worshippers in Kadhimiyah who were going to the shrine of the seventh Imam, Musa al-Kadhim, to commemorate his death. Early reports are that they killed seven and wounded 36.

The guerrillas are attempting to provoke the Shiites to commit violence in turn on Sunni Arabs, in hopes that a civil war will ensue. Such a communal war could make it impossible for the US to remain in Iraq, and impossible for the new government to establish itself, opening the way for a coup by the guerrillas.

The top police officials of the cities of Kirkuk and Baghdad were assassinated on Tuesday. This is not a good sign.