Off to Najaf, inshallah…
I’m trying to organize a trip to Najaf tomorrow, and hopefully to get into the shrine. A couple of friends of mine did it last week, but left after three days inside. They reported no weapons in the shrine proper, but instead they were stored around the shrine in the nearby buildings. However, other organizations, including the AP, have published pictures of Mahdi fighters manning machine guns that the cutline said was _in the shrine._ Also, an Iraqi reporter who helps TIME out has reported that people in Najaf are sick of the Mahdi firing mortars from either within the shrine compound or from its minarets. So, I don’t know what to make of that.
And let’s not even get into the whole confusion of Moqtada al-Sadr’s “will he or won’t he?” crabwalk on whether he’s vacating the shrine or not. There have been so many conflicting reports that I can’t begin to make sense of the state of play. Suffice it to say, confusion reigns at this point.
Thus, the expedition to Najaf. I’ll be taking a BGan satellite receiver and my laptop, so I should be able to file, if needed. But I may not be able to get into the shrine or even to Najaf; we’ve got to go through Kufa, where there have been reports of relatively heavy fighting.
So hopefully we’ll be able to see a little bit of what’s going on. Wish me luck.