Sunnis Come to Aid of Shia

A convoy from Fallujah carries much needed supplies of food and medicine to the people of Najaf.

Sunnis Come to Aid of Shia

A convoy from Fallujah carries much needed supplies of food and medicine to the people of Najaf.

Tuesday, 22 February, 2005

Dozens of trucks and pickups, with banners declaring them "Aid from Fallujah to the mujahideen brothers in Najaf", paraded down the highway, escorted by two Fallujan police cars.

This August 14 convoy, bearing food and medicine collected in the Sunni insurgent-controlled city of Fallujah and destined for Shia Mahdi Army fighters in Najaf, was the latest in a display of unity between anti-Coalition fighters from the two branches of Islam.

As the convoy approached Najaf, hundreds of people lined the road flashing victory signs and shouting, "God bless the Fallujis". At a roundabout in the town, locals surrounded the vehicles in order to shake hands with the Fallujans. "Sunni and Shia brothers, we will not sell our country," the crowd chanted.

Members of the Mahdi Army, wearing green headbands, began to clear a way running towards the shrine of Imam Ali, where Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr had holed up for more than two weeks.

As the convoy arrived, hundreds more fighters flooded through the shrine's gates to embrace the Fallujans.

"We brought to them flour, milk, oil, medicine, mineral water, Pepsi and money, plus a whole truckload of tomatoes and another of potatoes," said Muhammed al-Marawi, 35, one of the drivers.

The delegation would "prove to the enemies of Islam and Iraq, and to the occupation, that sectarian disputes are gone once and for all", said one of the Fallujans Jasem al-Dulaimi, 52.

Another, who went by the name Abu Bahaa, from Fallujah's Julan district, a centre of fighting between US Marines and insurgents in April, recalled cryptically how he had handed Muqtada a confidential item, which would help overcome his enemies. “It is very important, the secret of our victory against the Americans in Fallujah,” said the man who was dressed in a white robe and thick spectacles.

Meanwhile, a civil servant, who asked only to be named as Abu Omar, wept as he recounted how his six-year-old son had contributed to the relief effort with money he had been saving for a bicycle.

"He has a safe for the allowance which I give him every day. He broke the safe and gave me money to help the people of Najaf," Abu Omar said, adding that his son that “My brothers in Najaf need this money more than I".

Wisam al-Jaff is an IWPR trainee.

Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq
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