May 13 2008

The Post-Basra Realities On Iraq

Published by at 1:46 pm under All General Discussions,Iran,Iraq,Sadr/Mahdi Army

There is a must read article on the power struggle playing out between Shiite PM of Iraq Maliki and the Sadrists Shiite block, which clearly is a puppet of Iran – according to this author:

Even the most diehard Iraq hawks want to reduce the U.S. military footprint in Iraq and lean more heavily on Iraqi Security Forces to do the hard work of defeating insurgents and sectarian militias. Which is why recent developments in Basra have been so encouraging.

These factions recognized what too many American observers miss, which is Sadr’s uniquely pernicious role in Iraqi politics — both as an agent of instability and as a stalking horse for Iran. Virtually all of Iraq’s political factions have been at one time or another beneficiaries of Iranian largesse, but the Sadrist relationship with Iran is of a different kind. Sadr first came to prominence as the authentic voice of Iraq’s Shia masses, those who endured Saddam’s misrule and never had the good fortune of slipping away into exile. He had a level of nationalist credibility other Shia leaders lacked, which is why some Sunni cheered him on when he first challenged the U.S. occupation. Since then, however, Sadrist ties to Iran have deepened: Whereas other Shia factions take money from Teheran, the Sadrist forces are directly armed and trained by Iranians, and some claim that Iranian operatives are embedded with Sadr’s so-called “Special Groups.” These forces — which Sadr himself may no longer directly control — have been particularly agressive in fighting Americans and Iraqis alike.

This is the context in which Maliki launched his “Charge of the Knights,” which was meant to be a small-scale police operation in Basra targeted at local warlords with ties to Sadr.

But Maliki did something unexpected: He fired those who refused to fight and pressed on with the offensive, in Basra and also in Sadr City, where a second front opened up. A tenuous ceasefire took hold in Basra, and ISF forces have cleared the streets of the militias, using tactics drawn from the surge. This was done with a strikingly small number of American and British troops, though coalition assistance proved crucial

Though these gains may be temporary, there has also been a more lasting change: The Sadrists have been marginalized. Even the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has been reluctant to make political interventions in recent years, pointedly condemned Sadr for refusing to disarm. Leading Sunni faction have also returned to the fold. The Kurds, who have their own problems with Sadr, are also on board. Maliki, suprisingly enough, increasingly looks like the leader of all Iraqis.

So what does this mean for our debate over Iraq? Advocates of withdrawal will insist that Maliki’s forces are just as penetrated by the Iranians as the Sadrist militias. But as noted above, this reflects a simple misunderstanding of Iranian influence. The fighting in Basra and Sadr City hasn’t simply pitted one set of Iranian-backed militas (one in ISF uniforms) against another, and it’s clear that the forces that controlled Basra weren’t popular at all: The city really was, as Maliki argued, in the grip of criminal gangs who terrorized the population.

Unfortunately, few Americans understand what Maliki has accomplished, and how much international assistance he needs to beat back foreign elements that aim to undermine Iraq’s fragile democracy — which is, as far as neighboring governments are concerned (particularly those that begin with an “I” and end with an “n”), a profoundly subversive influence.

It is a must read from someone who knows the region and the players very well. And the crack down continues apace as Sadr strongholds are being raided and key trouble makers taken into custody:

At least 30 followers of the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr were detained in Iraq on Tuesday as a Sadr office in western Baghdad was raided, according to the news agency Voices of Iraq.

“The raid which was carried out with aerial support ended with the arrest of 30 persons who were working in social activities with al-Sadr’s office in Shoula,” an anonymous source told VOI.

Shoula is the second largest Baghdad stronghold of al-Sadr’s followers after Sadr city located on the eastern side of Baghdad.

And now details of the Sadr Surrender are coming out, and it looks to be truly a one-sided deal favoring the Iraqi Government and the rule of law:

• The Iraqi government and the Mahdi Army would observe a four-day cease-fire.
• At the end of the cease-fire, Iraqi forces would be allowed to enter Sadr City and conduct arrests if warrants have been issued, or if the Mahdi Army is in possession of medium or heavy weapons (rocket-propelled grenades, rockets, mortars).
• The Mahdi Army and the Sadrist bloc must recognize the Iraqi government has control over the security situation and has the authority to move security forces to impose the law.
• The Mahdi Army would end all attacks, including mortar and rockets strikes against the International Zone.
• The Mahdi Army must clear Sadr City of roadside bombs.
• The Mahdi Army must close all “illegal courthouses.”
• The Iraqi government would reopen the entrances to Sadr City.
• The Iraqi government would provide humanitarian aid to the residents of Sadr City.

The summer offensive for 2008 is on and it is targeting the last threats to Iraq’s future. The Sadrists will not be garnering a lot of votes this fall after these defeats and word of the atrocities by the Mahdi Army (trained and armed by Iran) start circulating through the Iraqi Muslim Street.

More here on the fighting that is still going on with rogue elements of the Mahdi Army who are ignoring the so-called ‘truce’.

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “The Post-Basra Realities On Iraq”

  1. WWS says:

    The 4 day delay only helps the Iraqi Army and Maliki, not Sadr.
    Simple reason: as Basra is pacified, troops can be rested, pulled up, and added to the lines around Sadr City. Also, the construction of the barrier on Quds street also goes on. Sadr only gains the chance to bury some heavy weapons – fine, bury them. Once the Iraqi Army takes control of the area, you won’t be able to dig them back up.

    Most importantly, the morale boost of a successful operation for the IA grows and feeds on itself, while the Mahdi Army faces the loss of their base. And certainly infighting will take place between those who support the ceasefire and those who don’t. Time is on Maliki’s side.

  2. Neo says:

    $5 million $100,000 reward for the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq

    al Qaeda in Iraq leader devalued because it feels he’s lost effectiveness and is no longer worth such a steep price.

  3. Dc says:

    Lets just make this easy. Sadr…was a known “issue” from the invasion of Iraq. His base assasinated a couple of key shiah leaders of Sistanis base. They actually arrested him on murder charges..then let him go. Then..made him part of the gov to appease him. Sooner or later….you deal with the hornets nest. And the way you do it is….you rip it out…get stung…and/or burn it until they don’t come back anymore.


    What’s new here??? He’s been a POS all along..who’s ONLY survived because of the surrender coalition of the US…who helped him become part of the gov because they didn’t/couldn’t deal wiht the fall out early on of it.

    The “iraqi” gov…has been catering to this ilk from the beginning. Which is why the “sunni” groups were chewing our ass early on.
    Now…with umpteen thousand dead young americans…we have his balls in a vice. (along with AlQueda in Iraq).

    If you ask me….the answer is ” SQUEEEEEEZE”.

  4. Frogg says:

    US troops to help ‘deluded’ British in southern Iraq

    By Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
    Last Updated: 2:32AM BST 13/05/2008

    American troops will be deployed to southern Iraq this summer with orders to adopt a more robust approach than the “self-delusional” British.

    A senior US officer has told the Telegraph that Iraqi troops had not been ready to assume responsibility for Basra when British forces withdrew late last year.

    He also said that US commanders in Iraq believe the Shia south is ready to copy the developments that transformed the western province of Anbar from being the main hotbed of insurgency into one of Iraq’s most peaceful regions. To foster this change, US troops are moving south for the first time since the 2003 war.

    “There’s going to be a whole new approach when we send troops down there,” said the US officer.

    “We won’t take the self-delusional route of convincing ourselves that the Iraqis are ready to fight but then standing back while they fall apart.

    Continue reading…'deluded'-British-in-southern-Iraq.html#continue

  5. Cobalt Shiva says:

    $5 million $100,000 reward for the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq

    al Qaeda in Iraq leader devalued because it feels he’s lost effectiveness and is no longer worth such a steep price.

    That’s gotta suck, being marked down like that.