AP Suggests It's The Fourth Anniversary of Deposing City of Baghdad, Not Saddam

April 9th, 2007 6:09 AM

The Associated Press reported rallies celebrating the fourth anniversary of the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein -- without ever mentioning Saddam Hussein. Lauren Frayer's article makes it sound like the American forces deposed a city, not a dictator: "Tens of thousands marched through the streets of two Shiite holy cities Monday to mark the fourth anniversary of Baghdad's fall." Nowhere in the article is Saddam even mentioned. The headline was also "Rally marks anniversary of Baghdad's fall."

The reader quickly learns the rallies were organized by Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army as an anti-American event, which would explain why it broke through the media's resistance to hopeful-sounding news:

"The enemy that is occupying our country is now targeting the dignity of the Iraqi people," said lawmaker Nassar al-Rubaie, head of al-Sadr's bloc in parliament, as he marched. "After four years of occupation, we have hundreds of thousands of people dead and wounded."

A senior official in al-Sadr's organization in Najaf, Salah al-Obaydi, called the rally a "call for liberation."

"We're hoping that by next year's anniversary, we will be an independent and liberated Iraq with full sovereignty," he said...

Monday's demonstration marks four years since U.S. Marines and the Army's 3rd Infantry Division swept into the Iraqi capital 20 days into the American invasion.

In a statement distributed in Najaf on Sunday, al-Sadr called on Iraqi forces to stop cooperating with America.

"You, the Iraqi army and police forces, don't walk alongside the occupiers, because they are your archenemy," the statement said.

He urged his followers not to attack fellow Iraqis but to turn all their efforts on American forces.

"God has ordered you to be patient in front of your enemy, and unify your efforts against them — not against the sons of Iraq," it said.

Al-Sadr had reportedly ordered his militia to disarm and stay off the streets during a Baghdad security crackdown that began Feb. 14, though he has nevertheless issued a series of sharp anti-American statements, demanding the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.

U.S. officials have said al-Sadr left Iraq for neighboring Iran after the start of the crackdown, but his followers say he is in Iraq.

One sign this article is truly a press release for Moqtada is that the BBC video posted next to it on Yahoo! has more balance, noting the Americans feel Moqtada is the greatest threat to Iraq's stability and is assisted by Iran. That's right, the BBC is fairer and more balanced than AP on this anniversary. That ought to make AP crumple up the story and start over.