April 10, 2003


Iraqi Shi'ite Leader, Aide Assassinated in Najaf (Mehrdad Balali, April 10, 2003, Reuters)
Senior Iraqi Sh'ite leader Abdul Majid al-Khoei and his aide were assassinated in an attack in the holiest shrine in the central Iraqi city of Najaf Thursday, members of his family foundation told Reuters.

Ali Jabr of the London-based Khoei Foundation said Abdul Majid, who is the son of the late leader of Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim majority, was killed at the Grand Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf Thursday afternoon.

Later, fellow Khoei foundation member Ghanem Jawad told al-Jazeera television that Khoei's aide Haidar Kelidar was also killed by what he described as a mob in the mosque attack.

Iraqi opposition sources in Kuwait said Khoei's assassination could trigger infighting among Iraqi Shi'ites, who make up 60 percent of the population, as the United States tries to bring together rival groups in a post-Saddam Iraq.

Dissidents say Abdul Majid's rapid return to Iraq -- and the United States' obvious backing for him -- had sparked intense criticism from other Iraqi Shi'ite dissidents eager to assert their authority after the fall of Saddam.

Abdul Majid's critics also allege he was not as fiercely opposed to Saddam as he wanted his followers to believe. Supporters of Khoei said the U.S. forces had given him the authority to administer Najaf -- another sore point for other Shi'ite groups.

A spokesman at U.S. Central Command war headquarters in Qatar said he had heard reports about an incident in the Najaf area involving a local leader, but could not give details.

Which is why we should punt Chalabi and let those who stayed decide who they want to run the country, and why we should get out as fast as the infantry can get to Damascus. Posted by Orrin Judd at April 10, 2003 3:53 PM

Please explain to us all how getting out of Iraq RSN (Real Soon Now) would lead to a stable, functioning democracy.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Posted by: Paul A'Barge at April 10, 2003 4:08 PM


You first--how will staying create one?

Posted by: oj at April 10, 2003 4:55 PM

Orrin's right. There is this terrible fallacy out there that somehow it is within the power of the US to decide how people in other countries are going to organize themselves.

It is out of our control. It is up to them. The most that can be asked of any country, even the US with all its power, is that before they act think whether it supports law, order, and freedom, or whether it will undermine it.

That's the extent of our influence.

Some people have an idea that a democratic culture can be transplanted over night as long as it's given the fertilizer of "foreign aid." It cannot. It can only be slowly built by the people. Whatever govt Iraq has, it would be do best to first reestablish order so people aren't afraid of criminals and insure the regime doesn't become criminal. That's the first step. Only when the govt provides real security and services to people will it win the support of the common man. Otherwise you have just another Weimar Democracy.

Right now the US just needs to provide enough order so that the oil wells are running, looting stops, and people can return to normal life. If the troops stay longer than 3-6 months, we'll be scapegoated for anything that goes wrong. It must be avoided.

We've given the Iraqi people a chance for a better life. It's within their power, no one elses, what they do with that chance. The Iraqi people must know that it is Iraqis, not America, who must be judged for any success or failure.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at April 10, 2003 7:01 PM

I wouldn't want to get into a time machine

and apply that thinking to Germany in the

period May-August 1945. Unless you were

anxious to fight WW II all over again.

Orrin would be, but once was enough for

most people.

Anyhow, when I wondered here some time

back why the Muslim moderates were not

out marching for democracy, now we know why.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 11, 2003 3:17 AM


Adenauer stayed.

Posted by: oj at April 11, 2003 8:50 AM

Does anybody know what the politics of the killers are? Is this just a power-grab by a random mob, or do these folks have ties to the Iranian Mullacrocy?

It's worth noting that a lot of the people involved in the overthrow of the Shah were reasonably pro-western, but were betrayed/out-organized/out-hustled by the Islamists in the anti-shah movement. I think we need to hang around at least long enough to allow any pro-democracy forces a chance to get their act together.

Posted by: mike earl at April 11, 2003 11:20 AM

Not sure what you mean about Adenauer. He didn't stay in Hitler's Germany.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 11, 2003 10:37 PM