12 April 2004

we really did tell you so

Can we stop saying "clear in retrospect"? How about "finally undeniably clear to everyone, though it was really pretty easy to anticipate"? [NYT, Apr 11]
But before Fallujah two things happened -- clear in retrospect -- that helped unravel what little hope was here.

The first was hundreds of miles away. On March 22, in the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces assassinated Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas who was a hero to Palestinians. Outraged Arabs hit the streets in Baghdad and other Middle Eastern capitals. Many Americans in Iraq braced themselves for reprisals.

A few days after Yassin was killed, U.S. authorities shut down the Hawza newspaper, the mouthpiece of Muqtada al-Sadr, a radical Shiite cleric. The paper had been accused of printing lies. But closing it only played into al-Sadr’s hand, fueling huge protests by his followers.

Then Fallujah happened. The group that took responsibility said it was avenging Yassin.

The sheik’s ghost returned to Iraq once more, on April 2, when al-Sadr announced that he was opening the Iraqi chapters of Hezbollah and Hamas, pro-Palestinian groups responsible for attacks on Israel.

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