Dec 28 2007

Iraq Update: Sadr Neutered, Anbar Rising Again

Published by at 9:26 am under All General Discussions,Iraq

It seems Muqtada al-Sadr, the fiery Iraqi Shiite cleric with ties to Iran and filled with anti-US denunciations, has been basically de-fanged by the ruling Shiia forces:

KARBALA, Iraq – Posted at the door of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s office recently, a flier denounced the arrest of his followers. Up and down the barricaded street, soldiers and police loyal to his Shia rivals stood sentry, questioning those suspected of links to the populist cleric.

Inside the shuttered office, five guards spoke of their sense of vulnerability and weakness. Once in control of streets in this southern city of holy sites, the Sadrists said they have been chased underground, their rivals at their heels. “They are all gathering against us,” said Ayad Abu Ali, a wiry, broad-shouldered guard who has sent his family into hiding, and now rarely leaves the office.

The arrests of al-Sadr’s loyalists are part of a broader power struggle between the two most powerful Shia factions seeking to lead Iraq: the Sadrists, who want U.S. troops to withdraw, and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the main Shia ally of the Bush administration. In a nation with a majority Shia population, their deepening confrontation could play a major role in Iraq’s future.

Clearly the Sadrists have lost the battle of wills, as well as the hearts and minds of the Shiia in Iraq. The comment “they are all gathering against us” is pretty clear – Sadr has no allies and his forces are too small to do anything. Besides, what would killing his fellow Iraqi Shiites accomplish besides his own death? It would seem all the extremists in Iraq are losing support and the people are now gathering around the new government to give peace a chance.

And that includes the Sunnis, who are now reaping the benefits of their decision to fight al-Qaeda and stand on their own. Anbar is truly becoming the center of a modern Sunni Arab movement – one that is in opposition to al-Qaeda’s vision of a new caliphate growing out of Anbar. Now it is a brand of Arab democracy rising from the ashes of Anbar’s brush with al-Qaeda:

FALLUJAH, Iraq — Support from tribal sheiks helped turn the tide against al-Qaeda in Iraq’s Anbar province, the Sunni-dominated region that once was an insurgent stronghold. Now the U.S. military is repaying the favor.
Tribal leaders are getting construction and other lucrative contracts from the U.S. military. And Marines are encouraging tribal leaders to form a federation to try to set aside their longtime differences and give the tribes a greater say in newly formed local governments.

The situation reflects how Iraq’s Sunni tribes — some of which were brutally suppressed by Saddam Hussein — are enjoying a resurgence, largely because their willingness to reject the radical Sunnis in al-Qaeda has won them protection from U.S. forces. The U.S. military says working with influential sheiks is key to establishing a lasting peace in Anbar province.

Anbar, once one of Iraq’s most violent provinces, is now one of the country’s quietest. Attacks and other incidents, such as the discovery of roadside bombs and weapons caches, have declined to about 50 per week from 470 a week last year, the Marine command here reports. In Ramadi, the province’s capital, attacks have dropped to about one per week, compared with 100 a week during the same period last year.

This is a must read article of the day. Iraq is turning to a success and the stories of this success just keep coming day after day. Will it last or keep going – that is the question.

I am anxiously awaiting the latest violence figures to see if al-Qaeda’s threatened increase in violence was able to come to fruition or not. To achieve success on their threat I would assume a doubling of the already extremely low violence figures would need to be shown. The death toll numbers are now nearly one third due to accidents, illnesses, etc. and not the conflict. To show they are making a come back al-Qaeda would need to show a huge uptick in their bloody campaign. I am praying (for Iraq and America) they have not had that kind of success in Iraq. I expect pockets of violence, just not a wide spread campaign that would indicate a resurgence.

One response so far

One Response to “Iraq Update: Sadr Neutered, Anbar Rising Again”

  1. MerlinOS2 says:

    Sadr’s forces for the most part were a few older leaders but mainly consisted of hot heads in the 15 -22 range from all I have read.

    I have seen recent stories of him actually sending hit squads to Baghdad to take out those who were not working in coordination with his game plan and sort of going freelance on him with kidnappings and such.

    Besides security in areas they controlled they worked like Hezbollah to provide services to get support from the locals. But still the tactics of killings and running people away from areas was eventually enough to over ride the ‘good’ stuff they were doing.