May 27 2008

The Demise Of Sadr, The Sadrists And The Mahdi Army

It is starting to become apparent, even to the liberal western media, that the Islamo Fascism that the religious extremists embraced across the Middle East is being rejected by the Muslim Street. Even those who still stand by the religious jackboot approach have been openly acknowledging their loss of support, as the true violent image of Islamo Fascism has come out of the shadows and romance surrounding Jihad with the West.

Every area in Iraq that is liberated from the control of al-Qaeda or the Mahdi Army (forces aligned with radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the Sadrist political block) has stories of relief at being freed from the oppression, and anger at those who imposed Sharia Law.

Take for example the latest reporting by the LA Times on conditions in Sadr City, and all those one time supporters of Sadr, the Sadrists and the Mahdi Army:

Four summers ago, when militiamen loyal to hard-line Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr were battling U.S. forces in the holy city of Najaf, Mohammed Lami was among them.

“I had faith. I believed in something,” Lami said of his days hoisting a gun for Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia. “Now, I will never fight with them.”

Lami is no fan of U.S. troops, but after fleeing Baghdad’s Sadr City district with his family last month, when militiamen arrived on his street to plant a bomb, he is no fan of the Mahdi Army either. Nor are many others living in Sadr City, the 32-year-old said. Weeks of fighting between militiamen and Iraqi and U.S. forces, with residents caught in the middle, has chipped away at the Sadr movement’s grass-roots popularity, Lami said.

More than 1,000 people have died in Sadr City since fighting erupted in late March, and hospital and police officials say most have been civilians. As the violence continues, public tolerance for the Mahdi Army, and by association the Sadr movement, seems to be shifting toward the same sort of resentment once reserved for U.S. and Iraqi forces.

“People are fed up with them because of their extremism and the problems they are causing,” said Rafid Majid, a merchant in central Baghdad. Like many others interviewed across the capital, he said the good deeds the group performs no longer were enough to make up for the hardships endured by ordinary Iraqis who just want to go to work and keep their families safe.

With provincial elections scheduled for October, a public perception that Sadr loyalists were to blame for the violence could hinder the cleric’s hopes of broadening his power and influence in the oil-rich south. It also could extend the violent power struggle between the Mahdi Army and the rival Badr Organization tied to Prime Minister Nouri Maliki — a conflict that has played out from the southern city of Basra to Baghdad’s Shiite neighborhoods.

I predicted this would be the result for the Sadrists in this fall’s elections in Iraq. You cannot violently oppress the people and then expect to see them come out in support at the polls. I think what irks the Arab Shiite Iraqis more than anything else is the fact these thugs who committed the atrocities on them were actually paid, trained and supported by Persian Shiites in Iran. And as more an more evidence of a clear Iranian link to these atrocities surfaces, the Sadrists will – rightfully – be blamed for allowing Persians to prey on Arab Muslims.

From one recent report it seems the treason (and this is how Arabs will view these actions) runs high up in the political leadership of Iraq:

Iraqi security forces captured a suspected leader of 300 Shiite militiamen backed by Iran in northern Baghdad, a U.S. military statement said on Tuesday.

Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) detained a mid-level leader of Special Groups, which refer to Shiite militia extremists funded, trained and armed by external sources, specifically by Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force operatives, and two other militiamen in the Shiite neighborhood of Shu’la on Sunday, the statement said.

It said the suspect is an employee in the Iraqi Interior Ministry, which has been frequently accused of being infiltrated by militiamen.

The military accused the suspect of “kidnapping and murdering Iraqi citizens and is affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.”

This is the kind of news that will cause open revolt in Iraq against the Sadrists – for being puppets of the Persian extremists. The Arab victims of these atrocities were simply meant as propaganda tools to gain headlines in the western media. This kind of abuse is unforgivable in any society.

As I said, the situation is so bad for Sadr, the Sadrist movement and the Mahdi Army even the Sadrists are seeing the writing on the wall, as this Washington Post article captures:

Interviews in Najaf with more than a dozen of the cleric’s top aides, friends and family members provide a rare glimpse into his attempt to convert himself from a maligned, overshadowed son into a religious and political icon as potent as his martyred father.

“I think now that the big bad ideas about Sayyid Moqtada Sadr — that he is filled with violence and is a shallow man — have changed so much, even in the West,” said Salah al-Obaidi, one of his top advisers, using the honorific signifying Sadr’s descent from the prophet Muhammad. “We want people to know who Sayyid Moqtada really is.”

For many Iraqis, Sadr’s image remains negative. “Most people do not approve of what Moqtada is doing,” said Dhirgham, 20, a clerk in a women’s clothing shop in Najaf who feared he would be killed if his last name were used. “He destroyed Iraq. He put us one century backwards.”

The reputation of the Mahdi Army as a militia of killers was cemented after Sunni insurgents destroyed the golden-domed Samarra mosque in 2006 and Sadrists retaliated by killing and torturing thousands of Sunnis. The cycle of revenge triggered paroxysms of sectarian cleansing that pushed the country to the brink of civil war.

Several of Sadr’s top aides said many of the atrocities were committed by Shiites pretending to be Sadrists, but they also acknowledged that Mahdi Army members were involved in the sectarian killings.

After a battle in late August between Sadrists and government forces in the Shiite holy city of Karbala that left dozens dead, the public image of the Sadrists was further tarnished. Sadr ordered the freeze, despite the objections of close aides such as Shaibani, who thought it would be viewed as a sign of weakness.

Finally the liberal media is starting to report the situation instead of projecting their own wishes and desries on events transpiring in Iraq. Are Iraqis clamoring for a return of the Sadrists and their Mahdi Army thugs? No-  they are wondering why these animals weren’t purged sooner, hardly a sign of support:

On Basra’s Corniche, the boulevard past which the mingled waters of the Tigris and Euphrates flow into the Persian Gulf, there is a collective sense of relief these days.

With the death squads in hiding and Islamist militias evicted from their strongholds by the Iraqi Army, few doubt that this once-lawless port is in better shape than it was just two months ago.

Two months after Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki ordered the military offensive, residents of Basra talk of feeling safer, if not yet entirely safe, after years of oppression by armed gangs and “enforcers” of Shariah, or Islamic law. In the four years that British troops patrolled here, from 2003 to late 2007, the outlaws emerged and preyed on musicians, alcohol sellers, Christians, unveiled women, academics — anyone not embracing their extreme vision of Islam.

Now the shops and restaurants in Basra are open later, and alcohol is back on sale, discreetly. The government’s troops seem to have quelled Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army and other militias. But some poorer areas like Hayaniya are still tense, and even in the city center the safety seems precarious, guaranteed only by thousands of Iraqi soldiers and police officers at checkpoints everywhere.

The tide has turned against Sadr, the Sadrists and the Mahdi Army. How bad is it? Well, we will soon find out. Sadr is calling for weekly protests against America. This echos his one time call for a million man march when Basra was being cleansed of the Mahdi Army, a march that was cancelled apparently due to a lack of grass roots support.

When you see stories in the LA Times, NY Times and Washington Post observing the turning tide in Iraq you can bet it is a serious change in the fortunes of Iraq and Islamo Fascists. Bush and our military and our Iraqi allies are winning this war on terror. The Muslim Street is choosing sides in this conflict, and al-Qaeda, the Mahdi Army and their ilk are not the choice they are making.

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “The Demise Of Sadr, The Sadrists And The Mahdi Army”

  1. WWS says:

    The best part about the arrest of the guy in the Interior ministy is that I’m sure he knows a whole lot of names that were in on it with him. If I was one of them, I would be sweating heavily, knowing that he’s going to be interrogated until he gives those names up.

    I was very amused by this line:
    “Several of Sadr’s top aides said many of the atrocities were committed by Shiites pretending to be Sadrists, but they also acknowledged that Mahdi Army members were involved in the sectarian killings.”

    Translated: “We be getting a bum rap here! We only killed half those guys, tops!”

  2. grass man says:

    […] is being rejected by the Muslim Street. Even those who still stand by the religious jackboot appro, 81, dies in single car crash in Wellfleet Cape Cod Times WELLFLEET ?? An 81-year-old […]

  3. […] As I predicted a few days ago, Moqtada’s call for Friday protests by his followers has fallen way short of previous protests: Thousands of people heeded a call from anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to protest talks between Washington and Baghdad on keeping U.S. troops in Iraq beyond 2008, but turnout on Friday was lower than past marches. […]

  4. […] is being rejected by the Muslim Street. Even those who still stand by the religious jackboot appro Katara murder case: Reactions NDTVTo read the biggest stories of the day on your mobile, type […]

  5. […] A couple of weeks ago Iraqi (Arab) Shiite-cleric-in-hiding (in Iraq with his Persian Shiite hosts) Moqtada al-Sadr called for weekly protests against the American “occupation”.  This was Sadr’s last gasp as Sadr City fell under Iraqi control and the Mahdi Militia were beaten back in their main stronghold in Sadr City.  This was only a month after the Mahdi Militia and Sadr lost control of the southern Iraq city of Basra.  I had stated that these calls for protests would probably die off, just like all of Sadr’s calls for action from Iraqis. […]