Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

Muqtada al-Sadr, Iraqi patriot?!

Fighters loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, a Shia leader, have rejected a call by Iraq's prime minister to disarm, and are continuing to battle Iraqi army troops in Baghdad and the southern city of Basra.

Violence continued a day after Nuri al-Maliki said that fighters allied to al-Sadr would receive a reward if they hand in their weapons by April 8.

"Sadr has told us not to surrender our arms except to a state that can throw out the occupation," Haider al-Jabari, a member of the Sadr movement's political bureau, said.

In an interview with Al Jazeera in Damascus, Muqtada al-Sadr called on the Arab League, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and the United Nations to recognise "the Iraqi resistance".

"I appeal to these parties to add legitimacy to the resistance and to stand by, not against, the Iraqi people because the Iraqi people need Arabs as much as they need any other person.

Iraq is still under occupation and the United States' popularity is falling every day and every minute in Iraq. I call, through Al Jazeera, for the departure of the occupying troops from Iraq as soon as possible."


I agree with the message, though I strongly disapprove of the messenger. The choice of that messenger, however, is not mine to make, but rests in the will of the Iraqi people, who are the only legitimate rulers of their country.  I find the attack against Basra to be, essentially, the start of a Shi'a civil war, and an attempt to rob the people of Basra of real democracy... which includes the freedom to say no to Iraq's current rulers, and no to a continued occupation of their country.


When governments conduct police actions involving searches and seizures for contraband, for every successful seizure many items go undetected. So it was that the American provincials accumulated vast stores of arms and ammunition, and secreted them at some thirty private homes and farms in Concord. General Gage anticipated orders from England to seize the patriots' arms, and on April 15, 1775 Lord Dartmouth wrote to the General to do just that. 

"The policy of disarming the people had been acted on, though it had not been followed up very energetically. The indications now were, that this policy would be carried out in earnest."

As Gage planned his search-and-seizure operation against Concord, all able-bodied males ages 16 through 60 of that town, from its gentlemen and yeomen to its laborers and apprentices, were carrying their muskets everywhere they went. It should be noted that these minutemen and militia were in fact the people who provided their own arms.

As the British began their march into the countryside on that day of April 19, 1775, Lexington's militiamen responded to the alarm, assembled at the town common, and began exercising with their arms. The widely published American account of what happened when the Redcoats arrived, began with the order shouted by British Major Pitcairn:

"...the voice of America thus describes the commencement of this unnatural war. 

About eight or nine hundred soldiers came in sight, just before sun rise, of about one hundred men, training themselves
to arms, as usual ; and the troops running within a few rods of them, the commanding officer called out to the militia, 

"Disperse you rebels, damn you, throw down your arms and disperse!" 

Upon which the troops huzzahed — immediately one or two officers discharged their pistols — and then there seemed to be a general discharge from the whole body. Eight Americans were killed upon the spot, and nine were wounded. The soldiers in a few minutes resumed their march to Concord ; and there, speedily destroyed a considerable quantity of flour and other stores, belonging to the public. 

Another party of militia, about one hundred and fifty men, alarmed at such violence, had assembled near a bridge at Concord. The soldiers fired upon them and killed two men. It was this repeated act of deadly hostility, that roused the Americans to repel force by force. They now returned the fire — beat the King's troops out of the town, and compelled them to retreat to Lexington, where they met a reinforcement of one thousand fresh men and two pieces of cannon. The militia being by this time increased in their numbers, they s'oon dislodged the troops from this post, who, during the remainder of the day, made a precipitate retreat through the American fire, and gained a place of safety under cover of the night.
In this battle of Lexington, the Americans had thirty-nine men killed and nineteen wounded. The King's troops lost two hundred and sixty-six men, killed, wounded and missing; and by subsequent accounts it appears, that in consequence of that action, General Gage's army has sustained a diminution of one thousand men, by death, wounds, prisoners, desertion, surfeits, and other incapabilities of service. For, the troops being four-and-twenty hours on duty, marched — fought — and fled forty-three miles in that time, without the least refreshment. Let it be remembered, that these eighteen hundred British regulars, consisting of the picked men of the whole army — grenadiers — light infantry, and marines carefully prepared for the expedition — were defeated and driven by about twelve hundred American militia, brought to repel an unexpected attack, and marched in accidental parties upon the spur of the occasion. Let it be delivered down to posterity, that the American civil war, broke out on the 19th day of April, 1775. An epoch, that in all probability will mark the declension of the British Empire!"

Three days after Lexington and Concord, Gen. Gage represented to the Selectmen of Boston that "there was a large body of men in arms" hostilely assembled, and that the inhabitants could be injured if the soldiers attacked. The next day a town committee met with Gage, who promised:

that upon the inhabitants in general lodging their arms in Faneuil Hall, or any other convenient place, under the care of the selectmen, marked with the names of the respective owners, that all such inhabitants as are inclined, may depart from the town .... And that the arms aforesaid at a suitable time would be return'd to the owners.

The committee recommended "that the town accept of his excellency's proposal, and will lodge their arms with the selectmen accordingly."  "The town unanimously accepted of the foregoing report, and desired the inhabitants would deliver their arms to the Selectmen as soon as may be."  

On the 27th of April the people delivered to the selectmen 1778 firearms, 634 pistols, 973 bayonets, and 38 blunderbusses.

Gage was then in a position to, and did, refuse the passage of both merchandise and people. The people of Boston sacrificed their weapons, and, despite numerous promises and assurances, made themselves unwilling subjects to British tyranny. 

An anonymous patriot attacked "the perfidious, the truce-breaking Thomas Gage" in the latter's dealings with the people of Boston as follows:

"But the single breach of the capitulation with them, after they had religiously fulfilled their part, must brand your name and memory with eternal infamy. . . you remain an infamous monument of perfidy, for which an Arab, a Wild Tartar or Savage would dispise you!!!"


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