August 29, 2006

It's Time For Maliki to Sadr Off

Hatched by Sachi

When Sadr arose from the ashes of his failed rebellion of 2004, still sucking air and still in command of a diminished al-Mahti militia in Najaf, many of us suspected he would continue to make trouble. Two years later, we now know he is the trouble.

But first, some good news

Insurgent attacks within Baghdad province averaged about 23 per day during the past week, Caldwell said. He noted that Baghdad’s average daily murder rate dropped 46 percent from July to August.

“And, if you look to just the past few weeks, from the 7th through the 25th of August,” he said, “the murder rate has dropped 50 percent over the daily rate for July.”

Vehicle-bomb attacks also have decreased in recent weeks, up until the renewed enemy improvised-explosive-device attacks that occurred today and over the past weekend, Caldwell said...

Iraqi and U.S. security forces began a stepped-up security campaign across Baghdad Aug. 8 to curtail deadly sectarian violence that had plagued the Iraqi capital city. As of yesterday, Caldwell said, Iraqi troops, with U.S. forces supporting them, had cleared more than 30,000 buildings, found 19 caches, seized more than 700 weapons and detained 70 suspects.

Also the New York Times slipped up yesterday: they actually reported the enemy deaths during the clash between the Mahdi militia and Iraqi troops. The editor must have been asleep at the switch to let this information slip through; but I'm sure a correction will be up on the Times website shortly...

At least 20 gunmen and 8 civilians were killed Monday when the Iraqi Army battled fiercely for hours with members of a militia loyal to Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric, in Diwaniya, Iraqi officials said.

The violence, which one Iraqi general said included militiamen executing Iraqi soldiers in a public square, amounted to the most brazen clashes in recent memory between Iraqi government forces and Mr. Sadr’s militia.... [In this case, "recent memory" means less than two years, one presumes]

So how did this start? Often, readers have the mistaken impression that American and Iraqi soldiers simply set out on patrol, and then they're ambushed by the wily militiamen, like the Americans attacking the hapless British during the Revolutionary War. The way the elite media usually (and deliberately) report the encounters, it's not surprising if Americans think that the enemy always sets the operational tempo, always controls the time and place, and that we're just getting shot up for no good reason.

But that's not how it usually happens at all. In fact, it's the Coalition and the Iraqi Army and police that usually force the issue:

General Ghanimi and other Iraqi Army and police officials said several militias were involved, not just the Mahdi Army. But they said the seed of the violence on Monday was planted a week ago when a roadside bomb they believe was planted by the Mahdi Army killed at least two Iraqi soldiers. Two days later, the Iraqi Army arrested a member of the Mahdi Army....

General Ghanimi, a Sunni, denied torturing the Mahdi detainee, noting that Sadr representatives visited him on Saturday and found him healthy. He said they asked for the accused bomber’s release and when the army refused, fighting broke out as the militias sought [unsuccessfully] to free him from custody.

It was in that fighting, initiated by the Iraqi Army's capture of a top Sadr bombmaker, that the Mahdi militia lost twenty men and were driven off without seizing their prisoner back -- a total defeat.

Gunfire riddled the streets from around 2 a.m. to the early afternoon. Polish troops responsible for the area helped Iraqi soldiers encircle the most violent areas, as American helicopters hovered overhead without dropping bombs, according to an American official who declined to be identified because the information is supposed to be released by the Iraqi Army.

This article does not mention it, but I read in a Japanese newspaper yesterday that ten Iraqi troops were killed; this is a ratio of 2:1 in favor of the Iraqi Army; considering that there are "in excess of 267,000" members of the New Iraqi Army and at most 20,000 members of al-Mahdi, this doesn't end well for Muqtada Sadr.

The problem with Sadr and his Mahdi "army" is not really the strength of the militia but the strength of their political machine within the ruling Shiite coalition. This leads to a lack of political will on the part of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of the Dawa Party to confront Sadr -- who is, in fact, his ally against the other major Shiite group, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI:

With sectarian violence soaring, American generals and the American ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, say that militias are now the single greatest threat to the stability of Iraq and that the Iraqi government must disband them.

But Mr. Maliki has yet to introduce any new policy, and has refrained from strong condemnations of Mr. Sadr’s militia, the Mahdi Army. Mr. Maliki relies on Mr. Sadr, who is enormously popular among poor Shiites, for political support against rival Shiite politicians. Mr. Sadr controls several ministries and at least 30 seats in Parliament, and he maintains close ties to Mr. Maliki’s political group, the Islamic Dawa Party.

Maliki has objected whenever Coalition troops -- or even the Iraqi Army -- uses heavy force against Sadr and his militia; for example, he denounced the air support we supplied to a raid by the Iraqis on a "Sadr stronghold in Baghdad" in early August.

Yet Mr. Sadr and the Mahdi Army remain an obstacle. Prime Minister Maliki, a Shiite who depends on support from Mr. Sadr’s allies in Parliament, has not confronted Mr. Sadr publicly. Sadr City, a Mahdi bastion, has not been searched or raided in a thorough manner, even though it is one of the capital’s most violent areas.

But his objections are mostly oral and probably for voter consumption. And while he hasn't himself confronted Sadr, he has also not stopped the Iraqi Army from fighting al-Mahdi. There is no indication whether it was Maliki or the Iraqi and Coalition military leaders who have deferred a direct assault on Sadr City until later in the campaign.

Even so, Sadr is still causing problems; and if it turns out that Maliki cannot do it, then perhaps it is time that he should go. But we shall see.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, August 29, 2006, at the time of 4:53 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this hissing:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference It's Time For Maliki to Sadr Off:

» That (Not So) Gloomy Pentagon Report from Big Lizards
Or, Sen. Harry Reid Demands America Declare Defeat and Go Home The wires and the antique media are abuzz with the report they've been salivating for; here are their headlines: Pentagon Gives Gloomy Iraq Report (AP) Pentagon: conditions for civil... [Read More]

Tracked on September 1, 2006 5:52 PM

» Links and Minifeatures 08 29 Tuesday (late) from Searchlight Crusade
Carnival of Liberty with a Jeopardy theme ********** They must be very close to nuclear weapons: Iran president rejects nuke suspension Reuters had the same story, plus Ahmadinejad challenges Bush to TV debate, and Iran says no one can stop... [Read More]

Tracked on September 19, 2007 7:26 PM


The following hissed in response by: Terrye

Not long ago I read apost at Iraq the Model {I don't remember whether it was Omar or Mohammed who posted it, the contention was that Sadr does not really control that many seats. He is part of a coaltion that controls that many seats, and is not that popular among that many people. But he is dangerous.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 29, 2006 7:23 PM

The following hissed in response by: Robert Schwartz

Sadr is not the problem. Iran is the problem. Sadr is just an Iranian stooge. He should be terminated with extreme prejudice, but that will only resolve a symptom, not cure the disease. Bring on the BUFFs.

The above hissed in response by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 29, 2006 9:40 PM

The following hissed in response by: exDemo

I sometimes wonder whether there is a disease that effects anyone in the media, MSM or alternatives when they begin to write.

Some simple observational truths that no one expresses:

What do you call a situation when you have a 10% minority opposed to a 90% majority. And the majority has ALL the guns, ALL the Army, and ALL the Police?

The media insist this a "civil war" situation.
Can they actually be that dumb?

I think it is more likely spelled R-A-W-A-N-D-A and pronounced genocide. To have a civil war, you need roughly equal proportions of equally armed people; or the vast majority without much in the way of guns, opposing a tiny ruling clique that is in power but very unpopular.

Do brains leak out of students when they go to "Journalism" school.

Othe rplain and self evident observational trusths overlooked:

The only reason that Iran did not send more Iranian Islamic "Volunteers" to aid HezbAllah, was that there was an obstacle blocking their path. That obstacle was the 138,000 members of the American Expeditionary forces in the country in their way to Syrai and Lebanon, in Iraq.

The only reason that Syria did not "come to the aid" of the HezbAllah on their western border, was they were cut off from Iranian support to their East; and had the threat of 138,000 American troops on their Eastern border, as well, freezing their armed forces in place as they contempalted a two front war cutoff from their iranian allies.

So there probably would have been a much larger Middle Eastern War if given Israel's non-success against HezbAllah, if...

America was not there in a blocking capacity with forces already present, in Iraq.

No one seems smart enough to even note these cardinal facts.

The above hissed in response by: exDemo [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 30, 2006 10:13 AM

Post a comment

Thanks for hissing in, . Now you can slither in with a comment, o wise. (sign out)

(If you haven't hissed a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Hang loose; don't shed your skin!)

Remember me unto the end of days?

© 2005-2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh - All Rights Reserved