Jun 16 2008

Sadr and His Sadrist Movement In Full Retreat

Published by at 1:48 pm under All General Discussions,Iran,Iraq,Sadr/Mahdi Army

Sadr and his Sadrists movement are in full retreat politically and militarily in Iraq as Maliki further strengthens the Iraqi government’s control of that country:

Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s recent decisions show he is pursuing a twin strategy — trying to regain control of his militia and avoiding confrontation with the government.

But on Friday, Sadr said only a select group of his Mehdi Army would confront U.S. troops — not Iraqi forces — while the rest should focus on political and cultural work. That effectively disarms most of his unwieldy militia, which has tens of thousands of fighters.

Is Sadr a closet democrat?  He sure surrenders like one, full of bluster and faux bravado as he tries to spin defeat as some kind of victory to those too gullible or naive (or both) to see through the spin.  But there is more:

Meanwhile, over the weekend, Sadr’s aides said the group’s political movement would not compete in provincial elections later this year under its own slate but join other groups and ask its followers to vote for those candidates.

Sadr has come under enormous pressure from Mehdi Army commanders to respond forcefully to the Shi’ite-led government’s offensives, which some see as an attempt to weaken the Sadrist movement ahead of the October 1 local elections. Sadr would face a U.S. military onslaught if he ordered an uprising.

“He’s been looking for ways of both responding to this expectation within the movement … and at the same time without declaring war,” said Harling.

“He does not want all-out confrontation with the U.S. At the same time he can’t afford to do nothing.”

In a further sign Sadr wants to avoid a major military confrontation, he has ordered his followers in the southern Shi’ite city of Amara — where Iraqi forces are preparing for another offensive — not to take up arms.

The news-outlet-that-shall-not-be-named had the story, but I went to Reuters instead – who had a better, more accurate, less biased version without lawyers. These folks are in full retreat across all fronts.  Probably because Grand Ayatollah Sistani has come out and threw his support behind long term partnership with the US:

A representative of top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani on Friday called Iraqi officials to show patience during the U.S.-Iraq long-term deal negotiations, terming pledges of withdrawing foreign troops from Iraq as transitory and elections-oriented.

That was also a swipe at the Surrendercrats, including lead Surrendercrat Barack Obama.  Anyway, the Maliki government has given the Mahdi Militia in the provincial capitol city of Amarah a few days to voluntarily disarm, before serious action begins in the supposed hotbed of Iranian weapons smuggling into Iraq:

 Iraq’s army will not go ahead with a crackdown on Shiite militias in the southern Maysan province until a government deadline for militiamen to surrender their arms expires, a Defence ministry spokesman said Monday. The Iraqi government offered an amnesty to militants in Maysan, who are willing to surrender their arms by Wednesday and offered to buy heavy weapons from them. 

More Iraqi troops have been pouring into Amarah, the provincial capital, as the military build-up continues. 

But the operation will not be launched until the deadline expires, Mohamed al-Askari, the spokesman for Iraq’s Ministry of Defence said at a press conference.

Smart move. Maliki is giving the militants one opportunity to make the right choice and get out of this free and clear.  Only the fanatics will balk at this offer – easily separating them from those who might be on the fence regarding all out Shiite civil war.



11 responses so far

11 Responses to “Sadr and His Sadrist Movement In Full Retreat”

  1. crosspatch says:

    I believe Sadr is making a move to give the Iranians cover. In the past Sadr had called for a “ceasefire” and should any of the Mahdi Army attack Americans, we would label them as “criminal elements that had defied Sadr’s ceasefire” or something close to that.

    What this statement by Sadr does is takes that away. Should Iranian-backed elements now attack US forces, we can not use that line, we can’t drive that wedge. Sadr is then able to play the “bad guy” to cover for Iranian operations inside Iraq. No longer would the rhetoric be able to say they were Quds-backed rouge elements trained and equipped in Iran. What Sadr has basically done here is turned his forces over to Iranian control while allowing himself to be the figurehead to take the flak for it in the hopes that being seen as a brave soul facing the “occupier” will help him regain some political capital with the people.

    If we can win the “hearts and minds” and clean up those neighborhoods, provide security, get the markets open, sewers working, water flowing and hospitals open, attacking us might not gain Sadr any such capital.

    It is my personal opinion that the counter-insurgency has now taken an important turn and the dwindling of Sadr’s support would tend to show that he is losing that battle.

  2. AJStrata says:


    If you are correct (and you usually are) that is a suicidal game for Sadr. You and I both know Arab Iraqis will not support Persian trained and armed thugs killing their people.

    If Sadr wants to accelerate his final demise, what you are suggesting is the fastest path to that goal.

  3. crosspatch says:

    I see it this way:

    1. He really has nothing much to lose, whatever charisma he had with the people is gone.

    2. He is only taking credit for attacks against “occupation forces” not against Iraqis. So that way if the Iranians manage to clobber an Iraqi squad, he can say it wasn’t him or that it was “outlaw” groups.

    He is “flailing” in my opinion. Like someone who is drowning and in a panic. His hopes of being some kind of leader of the Shiites in Iraq are just about dashed.

    Pulling out of the provincial elections was probably an indication of how little support he has. He probably didn’t want to be embarrassed by losing the elections outright so he can posture and say he is boycotting the election. Election boycotts are the dumbest thing someone can do, as the Sunnis discovered last time. It just means the government “goes around you” so to speak and you lose any influence on its direction.

  4. Neo says:

    Don’t get too happy with yourself AJ.

    al-Sadr merely wants to make Iraq into the next Lebanon.

  5. VA Voter says:

    Entirely different topic:

    Re. Obama’s ‘Black Father Abandonment’ speech given in a church.

    In addition to padering to White voters, did Obama deliberately change his speech cadence and inflection (like Hillary did) to pander to his audience?

  6. lurker9876 says:

    Ya think that Sadr may be waiting for Obama to win in November?

  7. MerlinOS2 says:

    Neo touches on it , but if you look at the position Sadr is getting himself into as CP pointed out you could simply have a Nasrallah under another flag.

    More matches than differences.

  8. crosspatch says:

    Of course Iran would be using the same recipe in Iraq as they used in Lebanon. There is no doubt. The difference as I noted elsewhere is that the Iraqi Army has the ability and the will to stand up to him, unlike the Lebanese Army vs. Nasrallah.

    The Lebanon recipe has, for now, been defeated in Iraq. The stakes are higher for Iran in Iraq than they are in Lebanon. Iraq has a a huge oil reserve and is the cradle of Shia Islam. Iran isn’t going to give up any time soon. At least not for the next century or so if they need to.

  9. lurker9876 says:

    Iran doesn’t care about its people. If they die off one by one, they still have full control of their own country.

    What a shame.

    Two million Iraqi’s told Iran to leave them alone. Good for them to understand sovereignty.

  10. dave m says:

    I actually expect that if BH Obsama is elected, he will prove
    Sistani wrong and actually withdraw all USA forces from Iraq (and Afghanistan)
    Obsama has already said that fears of a genocide do not constitute a
    reason to remain.
    I think Obsama thinks that it would be good for Americans, for their
    souls, to face world humiliation, and if he can raise the specter of
    Vietnam one more time, by golly he will do it.
    I hope that I am not proved right, and I hope Mr. Obsama is defeated
    on Nov 4. Would he yank the troops?
    What say you AJ?

  11. […] due to the pre-surrender of the Sadrist Movement as it was facing the Iraqi government action (see here and here). During the window of amnesty Iraqi troops massed in key locations, cordoning off the […]