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Shi'a Pundit

Devoted to the viewpoint of Islam of Muhammad SAW and Amir ul-Mumineen, Ali ibn Abi Talib SA, in the Shi'a Fatimi Ismaili Dawoodi Bohra tradition.

March 25, 2003

Karbala watch: Saddam's strategy.

From the Arab paper, Al-Hayat, comes a theory about Saddam's deliberate intent to capitalize on the symbolism of Karbala, by making it a focal point for the upcoming battles. The original is in Arabic, but a translation and interpretation comes via

A piece in the London-based Al-Hayat proposed an interesting angle to the scenario of a Baghdad Götterdämmerung. The paper noted that two columns of U.S. forces were moving from the south toward the Iraqi capital and would probably meet in the coming hours in Kerbala—a town holy to Shiites because it is where Hussein, the son of Imam Ali, was killed by a superior Sunni Ommayad force in 680. While Saddam's is a Sunni regime, the symbolism of the locale, which is associated with heroism against greater odds, led the paper to write, "Analysts [believe it possible] that the Iraqi regime intends to turn Kerbala into the major area of confrontation [against U.S. forces], since it captures the spirit of the Iraqi regime, which aspires to inject [both] Islamic and Arab meaning and resonance into its war against the United States." If Al-Hayat is right, then a secular Sunni-led regime will have co-opted Shiite religious symbolism—surely one of the more bizarre features of this war.

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Nahj-ul Balagha

About Shi'a Pundit

Shi'a Pundit was launched in 2002 during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The blog focuses on issues pertaining to Shi'a Islam in the west and in the Islamic world. The author is a member of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. Bohras adhere to the Shi'a Fatimi tradition of Islam, headed by the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS).

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