Much has been made in the blogosphere about the media coverage (or alleged lack of coverage) of the Nick Berg beheading, but in the same week as that traumatic event, an equally significant, and far less violent event took place in Iraq, and it got scant notice, even among pro-liberation bloggers. Thomas Friedman draws our attention to it:
There is also obviously a struggle for Iraq. Last Tuesday, two big events happened in Iraq – but only one of them made headlines. One was disclosure of the horrific beheading of Nicholas Berg. The other was the peaceful demonstration by 1,000 Shiites in Najaf, telling Moktada al-Sadr to get out of town. Sadr’s men fired their weapons into the air and shouted at the demonstrators, but the demonstrators shouted right back. The future of Iraq, and the chances of America salvaging any decent outcome there, depend on which event – the Berg murder or the anti-Sadr march – turns out to be the emerging trend.
This anti-Sadr march was a truly rare event in the modern Arab world – a large public demonstration by Muslim moderates against armed Muslim extremists. It could only have happened in a post-Saddam Iraq, where, even in the turmoil, people have enough freedom to do such a thing. But it will only define post-Saddam Iraq if it becomes a real movement among the Shiite silent majority and not just a one-day parade. “We need the moderate Shiites to take charge of the streets and their own future,” a U.S. commander in Iraq told me. “Otherwise, it will become a problem for them and for us.”
The moderate Shiites may not be on our side in the long run, but for now we share a common enemy. That fact deserves a little more attention.