March 13, 2006

Who Wants Civil War?

Hatched by Sachi

Over the weekend, I was going to write about this good news from Iraq, that the Iraqi Army's 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 6th Iraq Army Division has just taken over security in Sadr City. But before I had a chance, I heard this bad news: multiple car bombs (accounts differ as to how many) exploded in Sadr City, killing 58 and wounding more than 200. These bombings have al-Qaeda's and Zarqawi's fingerprints all over them.

It is curious though, why al-Qaeda would choose to bomb that particular place at just such a time.

Sadr City is the stronghold of the notorious Muqtada Sadr and home-base of his militia, the Mahdi "army." In fact, Sadr City is actually (unofficially) named after Sadr's father, who is far more respected, even revered, than Sadr himself has ever been: Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr. The city is practically run by the militia, since the locals do not trust the Iraqi army or the police.

Saadoun al-Sahl, a furniture shop owner, said he counted on private militiamen loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to shield him from a recent surge of sectarian killing that pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war.

“They protect us better than any security agency,” he said. “If I or anyone has a problem, we go to the Mahdi Army to solve it.”

(The similarity to how the Mafia used to "rule" Italian neighborhoods in New York and Chicago, taking the place of police, is striking.)

Right after the Februrary 22, 2006 bombing of the al-Askariya Mosque (the Golden Mosque) in Samarra, Sadr's "men in black" took up arms and launched a number of attacks on Sunni mosques -- some of which used to be Shiite mosques but were forcibly converted by Saddam Hussein. Yet, the Interior Ministry made a deal to have the Mahdi Army to secure the city:

The Shiite-led Interior Ministry, which oversees police, agreed to work with the Mahdi Army in the aftermath of the shrine bombing. Al-Sadr followers in black trousers and yellow button-down shirts manned checkpoints and searched pedestrians with metal detector wands during an unusual daytime curfew that helped curb the worst of the violence.

It is hardly coincidental that the Interior Ministry is run by interim Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafaari, also the UIA candidate for permanent prime minister... and who is strongly backed by (surprise!) Muqtada Sadr.

It looks like the Mahdi Army has gained quite a bit of prestige and power, thanks to Zarqawi's group al-Qaeda In Mesopotamia. But now that the Iraqi Army is here, the Mahdi must step aside or be pushed aside. The American-trained army is tough -- unlike the Iraqi police. In fact Col. Hussain Muhsein, commander of the 3rd Battalion of the Iraqi Army, insisted there would be no deals with Mahdi Army:

“The Iraq army does not cooperate with any militias,” Muhsein said. “We follow the orders of the Ministry of Defense.”

Then the Monday bombings occurred. Perfect timing, is it not? If anyone wanted to embarrass the Iraqi Army and increase the appeal of the Mahdi militia, he could not have planned it better. In fact... it's almost as if al-Qaeda and Muqtada Sadr are in cahoots with each other. How is it that multiple car bombs could slip through the cordon of the Iraqi Army surrounding Sadr City? Could this be an inside job carried out by Shia, not Sunnis?

After all, the Mahdi militia needn't slip past anyone: they already control those streets.

Scott from Security Watchtower is asking the same questions:

This attack specifically targeted civilians at markets and is clearly intended to provoke further sectarian fighting and a Shiia response against Sunnis. My initial reaction is to question how four car bombs could've been driven into Sadr City when (1) there is security in and around the Shi'ite neighborhood, (2) there is somewhat limited road accessibility and (3) security forces would have to be in a heightened state of alert due to the sectarian fighting and realize the neighborhood was a target. Amer al-Husseini, a cleric who serves as an aide to al-Sadr, is quoted in Sunday's Independent Online saying "after Sadr City's reaction to the bombing of our holy shrine we were expecting attacks."

One of the terrorists is reportedly an African. How could such an obvious foreigner be free to drive a car filled with explosives through such a close-knit community without the Mahdi miltia noticing?

It is a given that al-Qaeda wants civil war in "the land between two rivers" (Mesopotamia, another name for Iraq). They thrive on chaos and discord. They don't even care who kills whom, so long as Iraq is thrown into turmoil; al-Qaeda can hide and bide and operate in the shadows. Plenty of time to seize control when order collapses... as they did in Sudan and during the civil war in Afghanistan.

That is why they have been trying so desperately to start a sectarian war; but no one has taken the bait. No one, that is, except Muqtada Sadr.

Civil war is also good for Sadr. He doesn't care how many Sunni die, nor even how many Shia: his aim all along has been to become the new Caliph of the Shia, if not all Iraq. Mind, Sadr has denied ordering the attacks on the Sunni mosques; he even called for calm after Monday's attacks (which especially makes sense if he were complicit in them). But such doubletalk is Sadr's stock in trade. As Charles Bronson says in Breakheart Pass, "if a man is a thief and a murderer, it follows he may be a liar as well."

What is happening in Iraq is nothing like a real civil war. There are no armies taking the field against each other. Contrast it with the American civil war, where more than three and a half million troops deployed against each other -- and over half a million soldiers died -- at a time when the American population was only 1.3 times the size of Iraq's population today.

What we see in Iraq is instead a strange and creepy dance between Zarqawi and Sadr. They both want the same thing for now: Armageddon in Iraq. But just as Sunni "insurgents" have leant a bitter lesson, Sadr will also soon discover that Zarqawi destroys everything he touches.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, March 13, 2006, at the time of 2:59 PM

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» Iraq Army, Coalition Begin Mahdi Militia Campaign from Big Lizards
As Big Lizards reported, over the weekend, the Iraqi Army with American advisors clashed with (it is now clear) a unit of Muqtada Sadr's Mahdi Militia. From the New York Times: The country's Shiite political leadership on Monday angrily denounced... [Read More]

Tracked on March 27, 2006 3:56 PM


The following hissed in response by: hunter

Mostly the NYT and the DNC want a civil war.
Al Qaeda and Sadr just want to rule. Al Qaeda for thei delusional caliphate, and Sadr for the Iranians he is sock puppet for. In a way it is the NYT/DNC that is the worst in this: They are wanting America defeated desperately and soon, before the Nov. electionas. Every US soldier's death, every car bomb in Iraq, moves them closer to being able to lead America's retreat, as they see it. They are convinced that Aemricans as a whole are as cowardly and ignorant as they are.
Your points about the mata a mata of Sadr and Al Qaeda is brilliant. MEanwhile, regular Iraqis are turning increasingly into Iraqis, driven there by the deadly hatred the two killers impose.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 13, 2006 9:37 PM

The following hissed in response by: dasbow

Now that the Iraqi Army is moving in, things should start improving. The bombings are a double edged sword - they also give the Army a good reason to clean house in Sadr City. It is past time to take Mookie out. We should have killed him during his first 'uprising'. There are plenty of high ranking clerics who would not be saddened to be done with him. As a plus, it would be the Iraqis taking care of business. Sorry, Mook, your time is up.

The above hissed in response by: dasbow [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2006 8:07 AM

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