March 31, 2008
Elites vs. Roggio - the Split Widens
The elite media, rather than trying to reel in their unsourced and increasingly risible claims of a great patriotic victory by Muqtada Sadr in the battle for Basra and Baghdad, is doubling down. From the Associated Press:
The peace deal between al-Sadr and Iraqi government forces - said to have been brokered in Iran - calmed the violence but left the cleric's Mahdi Army intact and Iraq's U.S.-backed prime minister politically battered and humbled within his own Shiite power base.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had promised to crush the militias that have effectively ruled Basra for nearly three years. The U.S. military launched air strikes in the city to back the Iraqi effort.
But the ferocious response by the Mahdi Army, including rocket fire on the U.S.-controlled Green Zone and attacks throughout the Shiite south, caught the government by surprise and sent officials scrambling for a way out of the crisis.
The confrontation enabled al-Sadr to show that he remains a powerful force capable of challenging the Iraqi government, the Americans and mainstream Shiite parties that have sought for years to marginalize him. And the outcome cast doubt on President Bush's assessment that the Basra battle was "a defining moment" in the history "of a free Iraq."
Bill Roggio's take on the exact, same story from the Long War Journal:
One day after Muqtada al Sadr, the leader of the Mahdi Army, called for his fighters to abandon combat, the fighting in Basrah has come to a near-halt and the Iraqi security forces are patrolling the streets. While Sadr spokesman said the Iraqi government agreed to Sadr's terms for the ceasefire, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has said the security forces will continue operations in Basrah in the south. Meanwhile, the Mahdi Army took heavy casualties in Basrah, Nasiriyah, Babil, and Baghdad over the weekend, despite Sadr's call for the end of fighting.
Maliki was clear that operations would continue in the South. "The armed groups who refuse al Sadr's announcement and the pardon we offered will be targets, especially those in possession of heavy weapons," Maliki said, referring to the 10 day amnesty period for militias to turn in heavy and medium weapons. "Security operations in Basra will continue to stop all the terrorist and criminal activities along with the organized gangs targeting people...."
The reasons behind Sadr's call for a cessation in fighting remain unknown, but reports indicate the Mahdi Army was having a difficult time sustaining its operations and has taken heavy casualties. "Whatever gains [the Mahdi Army] has made in the field [in Basrah], they were running short of ammunition, food, and water," an anonymous US military officer serving in South told The Long War Journal. "In short [the Mahdi Army] had no ability to sustain the effort.
TIME's sources in Basrah paint a similar picture. "There has been a large-scale retreat of the Mahdi Army in the oil-rich Iraqi port city because of low morale and because ammunition is low due to the closure of the Iranian border," the magazine reported.
I notice that AP writer Robert H. Reed is aided by three AP writers in Baghdad: Qassim Abdul-Zahra, Bushra Juhi and Sinan Salaheddin. I wonder what part of Baghdad they're from and what are their own positions on the Mahdi Militia... if they come from Sadr City and voted for the Sadr Bloc, what would that tell us about the contribution they may have provided to this AP story?
This is why I reject as nonsense the traditional journalistic claim that their own beliefs and political positions have no bearing on the stories they write; we are all to some extent captive of our own pasts. If the question is who "won" a complex factional struggle between Iranian-backed Shia like Muqtada Sadr and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki -- formerly a protege of Sadr himself, but now backed by the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (even though Maliki is from the Dawa Party) -- then it sure as shootin' does matter whether the observer is a supporter or opponent of Muqtada Sadr. How could it not?
Bill Roggio is completely open about his background and his many embedded deployments. But we know nothing at all about Mr. Reed or his various Iraqi (and one American) collaborators.
It's time for staff writers and especially local stringers in the elite media to start outing themselves, as we bloggers routinely do -- even without benefit of those "multiple layers of editing" that make AP and the New York Times and such so unbiased and nonpartisan.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 31, 2008, at the time of 4:36 PM
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The following hissed in response by: scrapiron
Did the Lame Stream Media happen to mention that Mookie lost around a thousand of his criminal band?
The following hissed in response by: narciso79
Your suspicions were at least partially correct
The above hissed in response by: narciso79 at March 31, 2008 7:31 PM
The following hissed in response by: TerryeL
Last night o Brit Hume's Special Report the panel was discussing this and they seemed to think Maliki got the short end of the stick. I am not sure Brit Hume himself agreed, he did point out that victors rarely give up.
I think the problem is that analysts on the right think that if Sadr lives to see another day, he wins. Analysts on the left think that if there is a fight at all, it means we lose. Ergo, nothing short of the complete destruction of the entire Mahdi army and the death or imprisonment of its leader Sadr will mean victory to guys like Charles Krauthammer...whereas the AP will only note the casualties of the militia as civilian casualties and say violence is up.
In other words as far as most journalists are concerned Maliki should not have even tried.
The following hissed in response by: MTF
The MSM war narrative interprets all successful events as just another chapter in a terrible story, and the details really don't matter to the MSM, mostly concerned as they are with the overall endgame of promoting a new American isolationism. In their world, Maliki and the popularly elected Iraqi government isn't succeeding at reducing violence and the influence of violent criminals, or anything good, but instead just falling more deeply into further useless conflict with their eventual overlords.
By the way, we talk all the time about the seditious behavior of the NYT and it's co-conspirators employed at MSM outlets all over the country, but we hardly give nearly enough notice to the MSM fellow travelers in hugely responsible positions in the State Department and the national Intelligence agencies.
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