It all started back in August 2004 when Mr Sadr and his Mehdi Army militiamen were besieged by US Marines in Najaf, south of Baghdad. The story is told by the current Iraqi National Security Adviser, Dr Mowaffaq Rubai'e
Dr Rubai'e had gone to Najaf in August 2004 to try to mediate an end to the fighting. He met Mr Sadr who agreed to a set of conditions to end the crisis. "He actually signed the agreement with his own handwriting," said Dr Rubai'e. "He wanted the inner Najaf, the old city, around the shrine to be treated like the Vatican."
But when Dr. Rubai'e returned to Bahgdad, Prime Minister Alawi instructed him to return to Najaf to get a final document signed and the signing was to occur in a particular house.
As told by Rubai'e,
It was agreed that the last meeting would take place in the house in Najaf of Muqtada's father Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr who had been murdered by Saddam's gunmen with two of his sons five years before. Dr Rubai'e and other mediators started for the house. As they did so they saw the US Marines open up an intense bombardment of the house and US Special Forces also heading for it. But the attack was a few minutes premature. Mr Sadr was not yet in the house and managed to escape.
Although Dr Rubai'e, as Iraqi National Security Adviser since 2004 and earlier a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, is closely associated with the American authorities in Baghdad, he has no doubt about what happened.
He sees the negotiations as part of a charade to lure Mr Sadr, who is normally very careful about his own security, to a house where he could be eliminated.
Every time we hear of Bush's incompetence in beginning and prosecuting this Fiasco we think we've heard the last of it. But as of today, this may take the cake. Anyone who knew his butt from first base knew that al Sadr had taken on the mantle of his father, a powerful Shiite cleric, who, along with two of his sons, had been assassinated by Saddam in 1999. Those murders by Saddam had provoked widespread civil unrest in Iraq. And small wonder. The Sadrist movement was a powerful force that was a blend of "nationalism, religion and populism proved highly attractive to Iraqi Shia, particularly to the very poor." That movement surfaced out into the open after Saddam's overthrow.
Unfortunately, Bush and his bodacious band of buffoons didn't know any of this. So, like Saddam before him, Bush decided the Sadr organization had to be crushed, either by defeating it militarily or killing it's leader. To our great leader this would have sounded like an easy task. After all, we had overthrown Saddam a year earlier in a "cake walk" and only had a few "dead enders" to deal with before we could complete the building of Iowa on the Euphrates. Clearly the Iraqis loved us, and all this silly talk of inter-sectarian rivalries and animosity was the talk of people who were far two negative. And the idea of intra-sectarian rivalries, for instance between different Shia factions, was too preposterous to contemplate. The leader of Iraq was our guy Alawi, who was a Shia just like Sadr. That was good enough for us. Sadr or anyone else who opposed him was obviously a marginal figure and traitor who had to be dealt with forcibly. If he died, all the better. His coterie of hangers on would soon disappear.
It is possible that the plan to kill Sadr did not originate with the Americans but rather with Alawi. But that is almost a distinction without a difference since Alawi was our hand picked interim President. What is undeniable, given the role of the U.S. military in this botched episode, is that we actively tried to kill him. Some suggest we may have wanted to capture him, but the weaponry we used doesn't suggest that.) In any event, we failed and Sadr laid the blame at our doorstep.
And the consequence of this botched assassination attempt are still with us.
Dr Rubai'e said: "I know him very well and I think his suspicion and distrust of the coalition and any foreigner is really deep-rooted," and dates from what happened in Najaf. He notes that after it had happened Mr Sadr occupied the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf as a place of refuge.
There is little doubt that if the U.S. had succeeded in killing Sadr in 2004, the civil war would have begun in earnest much sooner than it did. But since Bush was too dumb to see what he had set in motion when he unleashed the dogs of war in March, 2003, he could not possibly understand the consequence of killing a major Shia leader right after overthrowing the Sunni leader, Hussein. Might as well have the whole country hate us.
When, oh when, will we be rid of these morons?