March 30, 2008
You Be the Jug
Here's Bill Roggio's take on the possible capitulation by Muqtada Sadr:
Six days after the Iraqi government launched Operation Knights’ Charge in Basrah against the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backed Shia terror groups, Muqtada al Sadr, the Leader of the Mahdi Army, has called for his fighters to lay down their weapons and cooperate with Iraqi security forces. Sadr’s call for an end to the fighting comes as his Mahdi Army has taken serious losses since the operation began.
"Sadr has sent a message to his loyalists urging them to end all armed activities," the Al Iraqiya television channel reported. Sadr "disowned anyone attacking the state institutions or parties' offices and headquarters...."
Sadr’s call for an end to fighting by his followers comes as his Mahdi Army has taken high casualties over the past six days. Since the fighting began on Tuesday 358 Mahdi Army fighters were killed, 531 were wounded, 343 were captured, and 30 surrendered. The US and Iraqi security forces have killed 125 Mahdi Army fighters in Baghdad alone, while Iraqi security forces have killed 140 Mahdi fighters in Basra.
From March 25-29 the Mahdi Army had an average of 71 of its fighters killed per day. Sixty-nine fighters have been captured per day, and another 160 have been reported wounded per day during the fighting. The US and Iraqi military never came close to inflicting [such] casualties during the height of major combat operations against al Qaeda in Iraq during the summer and fall of 2007.
Here is the New York Times' version of today's events:
The Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr on Sunday took a step toward ending six days of intense combat between his militia allies and Iraqi and American forces in Basra and Baghdad, saying in a statement that his followers would lay down their arms providing the Iraqi government met a series of demands.
The substance of the nine-point statement, released by Mr. Sadr on Sunday afternoon, was hammered out in elaborate negotiations over the past few days with senior Iraqi officials, some of whom traveled to Iran to meet with Mr. Sadr, according to several officials involved in the negotiations....
Iraqi forces, backed up by American war planes and ground troops, have been in a stalemate with Shiite militias affiliated with Mr. Sadr in Basra for the past six days, in a military operation that has stirred harsh criticism of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Mr. Maliki’s campaign to take back militia-controlled parts of the southern city has met with far more resistance than was expected from militia fighters, Iraq’s defense minister, Abdul Kadir al-Obeidi, conceded last week.
Many Iraqi politicians say that Mr. Maliki’s political capital has been severely depleted by the campaign and that he is now in the curious position of having to turn to Mr. Sadr, a longtime rival and now his opponent in battle, for a solution to the crisis....
The move by Mr. Sadr stood in stark contrast to his actions in 2004, when he ordered his militia to fight to the death in the old city of Najaf, suggesting that Mr. Sadr’s political sophistication and skill at military strategizing has grown in the past few years.
So according to Roggio, a beaten Sadr is desperately seeking a face-saving way out of a war he is losing badly. But according to the Times (reporting by Erica Goode), a triumphant Sadr has trapped American forces and feeble, helpless Iraqi lickspittles and lapdogs in a quagmire; and now we are begging Sadr to give us (following our acquiescence to a series of "demands") a face-saving opportunity to run away with our tails between our legs.
I draw two conclusions: First, Bill Roggio, with his infantry background and current military connections (he has embedded with the Army, Marines, the Iraqi army, and the Iraqi National Police many times during the last four years), is far more likely to understand the situation on the ground in Iraq. Therefore, I trust his take on Sadr's surrender more than I trust the Times.
Second, based on the elite-media coverage of Operation Knights' Charge against the Mahdi Militia over the past week, I can only conclude that it must be an election year.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 30, 2008, at the time of 6:23 PM
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The following hissed in response by: MTF
Like cocktail hour, it's always an election year somewhere. Nothing excuses the blatant propaganda on behalf of our wartime enemies, and the highly visible hope our country will be beaten militarily. I'll only be happy when ownership of the Times has changed, and the Sulzbergers have to get real jobs. Jobs they didn't inherit, but earn through hard work every day like the "rubes" of middle America they so blatantly condescend to in writing these stupid articles. And, in the best of all worlds, the likes of Eric Lichtblau will hopefully join Punch in the temp pool.
The following hissed in response by: Geoman
How many times does Sadr have to call for a ceasefire and flee the country before someone realizes he does this because he is losing, not winning?
People like Sadr don't quit when they are winning.
The real story is the government of Iraq is asserting its full control and ownership over Basra, something that hasn't been true for several months.
The following hissed in response by: ibfamous
so US forces joining the battle in greater force means sadr is losing?
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