The coming Mideast meltdown?
It's interesting that this Askariya shrine is the site of the disappearance of the 12th Shiite iman, the one who figures so prominently in Ahmadinejad's religious fantasy. It's not beyond imagining that Iran may be behind this bombing, even though this is a Shiia shrine. It is in Iran's interest to foment an Iraqi civll war at this particularly dangerous time, when Iran itself is under increasing pressure because of its desire for nuclear weapons, and also because Iraq is on the verge of forming a new government. Just as we saw Iran's hand, along with other Islamist extremists, in fomenting the cartoon jihad as a way of distracting attention and rousing the Arab street to heights of frenzy, this may be just one more step in Ahmadinejad's plan to wage preemptive war against the West. He's not going to fight an open war, he's not going to launch a missile at Israel, he's more likely to wage a proxy war on many fronts at once. Look for increasing militant attacks in Gaza and other Mideast trouble spots. The Mideast cauldron is starting to bubble.
Shrine Attack Brings Civil War Warning - Yahoo! News
Insurgents detonated bombs inside one of Iraq's holiest Shiite shrines Wednesday, destroying its golden dome and triggering more than 60 reprisal attacks on Sunni mosques. The president warned that extremists were pushing the country toward civil war, as many Shiites lashed out at the United States as partly to blame.
As the gold dome of the 1,200-year-old Askariya shrine lay in ruins, leaders on both sides called for calm: But the string of back-and-forth attacks seemed to push the country closer to all-out civil war than at any point in the three years since the U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
[...] In one ominous sign of how Shiites may react, Iraq's top Shiite cleric and the country's vice president hinted that local armed militias might play a bigger role in security in future, if the government can't protect such holy shrines.
Both Sunnis and the United States fear the rise of such militias, which Sunnis view as little more than death squads. American commanders believe they undercut U.S. efforts to create a professional Iraqi army and police force — a key step toward the eventual drawdown of U.S. forces.
[...] The new tensions come as Iraq's various factions are still unable to put together a government after the Dec. 15 elections. The president said the brazen assault on the shrine — the third major attack against Shiite targets in as many days — seemed aimed at destroying the talks.
[...] Tradition says the Askariya shrine, which draws Shiite pilgrims from throughout the Islamic world, is near the place where the last of the 12 Shiite imams, Mohammed al-Mahdi, disappeared. Al-Mahdi, known as the "hidden imam," was the son and grandson of the two imams buried in the Askariya shrine. Shiites believe he is still alive and will return to restore justice to humanity.
Iraq the Model, a valuable blog to follow for first-hand information on what is going on in Iraq, has this to say, reinforcing my own idea about the bombing:
I believe there are foreign terror groups behind this attack and I don't think local insurgent would do such a thing, simply because this particular shrine had been in Sunni territory for a thousand years and the residents of Samarra had always benefited from the movement of religious tourism and pilgrimage.
Things look scary here in Baghdad and I hope there won't be more updates to report as I can't see a positive thing coming out of this.