July 9, 2007

Funny Looking Cousin of 'Lay Low, Sweet Sadrite'

Hatched by Sachi

Bill Roggio reports: Muqtada Sadr has left the building. In fact, he has emigrated from Iraq (again) for Iran (again).

Muqtada al Sadr, the leader of the Shia Mahdi Army and the Sadrist bloc in parliament, has left Iraq and is in Iran, military sources told Reuters. An anonymous U.S. military intelligence official and a military officer stationed in Iraq told The Fourth Rail the Reuter's report is accurate, but would not say when they believe Sadr left Iraq. Sadr's flight from Iraq and return to Iran comes as Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki issued an unusually strong statement calling for Sadr's Mahdi Army to disarm, and Iraqi security forces continue to battle his Mahdi Army in southern Iraq.

When I heard about him returning to Iraq last May, I knew he would never wield the same influence he used to over the Mahdi Militia: These thugs have no discipline; without the pack leader's constant presence, he cannot keep the dogs in line.

Rumor had it that, despite the plummeting attendance at Sadr's last two "demonstrations," he was organizing yet another. According to Roggio, it didn't quite materialize:

Sadr held two rallies, both of which had poor showings, and had to cancel a July 5 march to Samarra to protest the attack on the Shia holy site of the al Askaria mosque. Sadr's spokesman claimed the Iraqi government wouldn't provide security, but based on the past poor showing of his demonstrations, there are questions that Sadr may have harmed his image with another poor showing.

Remember what happened last protest? I summarized the noisome nabob's predicament thus:

We have a terrorist group that used to have six members in the Iraqi cabinet itself... but now they're gone.

The terrorist leader issues a call for a colossal rally... but only 15,000 show up; and that number includes many who wouldn't have come, had they known the leader himself would not be present at his own rally.

And the reason the terrorist leader didn't dare attend the rally is that he's currently hiding inside Iraq's greatest enemy, Iran, because he's so afraid he'll be seized if he returns to his "home" country.

Sadr realized his boneheaded mistake, so came back to reclaim his power; but per Roggio, it was too little, too late, too bad:

Since his return, Sadr has attempted to position himself as a moderate, nationalist leader, but with little success. He has flirted with the Anbar Awakening movement, and negotiated with Sunni political parties. His Sadrist bloc withdrew from Prime Minister Maliki's government, and abandoned its six cabinet level positions. The Sadrist bloc's 30 members have also boycotted parliament.

Let's run through the episodes so far in the Sadr serial:

  • At Muqtada's order, the Sadrites pull out of the government; the government didn't fall;
  • Sadr tries to make himself middleman between the Anbar Salvation Council and the Maliki government; everyone just stares at him, as at a ring-tailed piglet trotting on stage at the ballet, squealing for attention;
  • Participation at his rallies, demonstrations, protests, disturbances, annoyances, irritations, rashes, and general smirks shrinks from 400,000 to 55,000 to 15,000, to, well, zero;
  • He flees to Iran, then returns, only to find his lieutenants squabbling over his earthly remains as if he were already dead. So he toddles back off to Iran. Smooth move, ExLax.

What does all this remind me of? Oh yes, an old English nursery rhyme:

The King of France went up the hill
With twenty thousand men;
The King of France came down the hill,
And ne’er went up again.

Like the grand Dixie Chicks concert and revival-tent tour, the venue was just a wee sma' bit too big; and Muqtada Sadr -- the Prince of mince -- had to cancel his appearance. Well, Mr. S., I could have told you so. In fact, I did!

Groups like the Mahdi Militia or the Badr Brigades Organization have no natural hegemony; they rule by violence and intimidation. Like the Mafia, once gone, they're forgotten...

[W]hile the death squads are hiding out and laying low, the Iraqi Army and National Police -- and the local police, who are probably even more accepted in these neighborhoods -- will move in and establish themselves as the hegemonic authority. The longer they stay unopposed by the extremists, the more Iraqis come to perceive the elected government as having "fitness to rule," which is the actual definition of hegemony.

I believe this serial has come to its end. There was no climax; it just faded away. In a few months, everyone will be asking "Muqtada Who?" This time, perhaps Sadr will finally read the handwriting on the Babylonian wall and just stay in Iran. At least until they get tired of his odious presence and kick him out as well.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, July 9, 2007, at the time of 11:41 PM

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The following hissed in response by: dasbow

Can't we kill him anyway?

The above hissed in response by: dasbow [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 10, 2007 9:53 AM

The following hissed in response by: Big D

What in the world did Iraqis ever see in this guy? Maybe this is for the best - not martyred, just fading away.

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 10, 2007 10:03 AM

The following hissed in response by: exDemo

I like the analysis. The Drive By Media never discuss anything deeper than Bushhitler is a moron.

I thought it was significant that Sadr had his ministers withdraw from the Maliki government and were not able to force a fall of the government. Then Sadr's rush to exile confirmed it.

It escaped me that he had returned to exile in Iran after he returned. I did know that he was trying to rally the self proclaimed Mahdi Army but wasn't being very successful.

Frankly, I was somewhat puzzled that the Surge was not being equally directed at taking down the Mahdi Militia. I attributed it to the desire to really bleed the AQI before the surge was over.

But now I understand, they are letting the Sadrites self destruct all by themselves. The ex Sadr ministers are not missed and will never get their jobs back. the Shia parties seem to be excluding them as well.

The Profile of political reconciliation is gathering force. The Sunnis are joining the government, turning their arms against Al Queda. The toughest reconciliation is purging your own erstwhile allies, but Maliki has been handed a Pearl of great price, when they purged themselves, helping mold the Shia into a cohesive government.

Since the Anbar Awakening, there has been a surge of Sunnis joining the National Police helping to integrate it. Does that sound like what happened in America in the '70s, to help defuse the black riots?

If i were measuring the political reconciliation end of the measure, the progress has been all but extraordinary.

The above hissed in response by: exDemo [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 17, 2007 12:23 PM

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