The Win-Lose Equation in Najaf

Download Audio
photoToday thousands of US troops and Iraqi soldiers launched a major offensive against Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr and his insurgents in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf.

The proximity of heavy fighting to the Imam Ali Mosque, Shia Islam's holiest shrine, has posed problems for American forces. Damage to the shrine could cause outrage among Shiites and Muslims around the world, possibly tipping Iraqi support in favor of al-Sadr.

American generals and Iraq's interim government are trying to upend al-Sadr without turning him into a mega-martyr or Najaf into a cause that could rip Iraq to shreds.

At this hour, it is still not clear if US forces will succeed. And even if victory ensues, it is unknown whether chaos will further deepen in Iraq.

Tune in tonight as we examine the stakes in the siege of Najaf.


Alex Berenson, New York Times reporter in Najaf

Scott Baldauf, Christian Science Monitor reporter in Baghdad

Owen Cote, associate director National Securities program at MIT

Ret. Colonel Patrick Lang, Army special forces

Andrew Hess, professor of diplomacy and director of the Soutwest Asia and Islamic Civilization program at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tuft's University, former captain in the U.S. Marines.

This program aired on August 12, 2004.


More from On Point

Listen Live