Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Banners Divide

Pajamas Media has a link to an AP story reporting the breakup of the Mahdi Army.


Two senior militia commanders told the Associated Press that hundreds of these fighters have crossed into Iran for training by the elite Quds force, a branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guard thought to have trained Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon and Muslim fighters in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

Naturally, this latest development is described as a new catastrophe for Iraq.

The breakup is an ominous development at a time when U.S. and Iraqi forces are working to defeat religious-based militias and secure Iraq under government control. While al-Sadr's forces have battled the coalition repeatedly, including pitched battles in 2004, they've mostly stayed in the background during the latest offensive.

Apparently, the split is caused by disagreement of what direction the Mahdi Army should take. Sadr has opted to wait things out in Teheran, leaving his underlings to bicker over which way to go.

At the Pentagon, a military official confirmed there were signs the Mahdi Army was splintering. Some were breaking away to attempt a more conciliatory approach to the Americans and the Iraqi government, others moving in a more extremist direction, the official said. However, the official, who was not authorized to be quoted by name on the topic, was not aware of direct Iranian recruitment and financing of Mahdi Army members. ...

The militia commanders and al-Maliki's reports identify the leader of the breakaway faction as Qais al-Khazaali, a young Iraqi cleric who was a close al-Sadr aide in 2003 and 2004. He was al-Sadr's chief spokesman for most of 2004, when he made nearly daily appearances on Arabic satellite news channels. He has not been seen in public since late that year. ...

While Al-Sadr's strategy appears to be to wait out the government offensive and preserve his force, his absence has left loyal fighters unsure of his future and pondering whether they had been abandoned by their leader, the commanders said. l-Sadr tried to return to Iraq last month but turned back before he reached the Iraqi border upon learning of U.S. checkpoints on the road to Najaf, the Shiite holy city south of Baghdad where he lives.

I think the cruellest construction to put on events is that Moqtada al Sadr has discovered he hasn't got the intestinal fortitude to lead a real, live shooting fight against the Coalition. Certain of his adherents apparently share that point of view and may be negotiating with the Iraqi government. But as is common in the Middle East, the militant high ground never remains vacant for long and a new wannabee Madhi has taken the mantle on himself. But he may find it requires more than a cloak and banner to lead. It may require even more than Iran is willing to give.

23 Comments:

Blogger Towering Barbarian said...

Reminds me of the Stuarts.

http://www.contemplator.com/history/jacobite.html

The "Wild Geese" ended by giving France some good seasoned soldiers but in the end their flight to France really didn't accomplish much for the House of Stuart. With any luck Sadr's fate will not be much better than that of Bonnie Prince Charlie. ^_^

3/21/2007 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

Seems like we've been here before in this discussion.....

In my opinion..I believe..., etc. - all the usual disclaimers, since I'm not an analyst in real life nor do I play one on TV...Al-Sadr is not an idiot. He knows that retaining some political power is better than hooking up with 70 clueless virgins.

Now I'm used to our clueless MSM which panders to the BUSHISEVILDIEDIEDIEHALIBURTONBIGOILCHENEY mindless 20-something liberals and/or the 60's soggy-brain generation, so I'm not shocked that the MSM found a way to spin this against the US war effort. But amoungst us bloggers I think we can see that the US is WINNING.

3/21/2007 06:04:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/21/2007 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

...elite Quds force...

Is there any reason to believe that Iran's "elite" bunch of soldiers are any better than Saddam's "elite Republican Guard", which melted like ice cream before a blow torch when the Americans arrived?

I get *so* tired of Arab huffing and puffing (Saddam's "mother of all battles") being reported as reality and something the world should take seriously.

Like, Iran's being quoted today that, "that Iran would fight back with 'all its capacities' if attacked." Oooooohhhhhh - booga booga booga!!!

Does that sort of bluster actually work on ANY one outside of AP?

3/21/2007 06:53:00 PM  
Blogger Pyrthroes said...

Let Iran's gravid scutworks chew their Quds. We recall Argentina's fearsome "Third Brigade-- in action!" (Prisoner without a Name): Having occupied the Falklands in a chest-besting coup-de-main, of a sudden they encountered British commando units ferried in aboard the QE-II. Faced with other than unarmed civilians, the bold Argentines displayed commendable realism by surrendering en masse in days.

Islam's terrorist armies are contemptble frauds. Absent Saddam's threats to murder any in retreat --like Stalin's Comintern agents in Orwell's "Catalonia"-- his Republican Guard (sic) would have spiked their barrels with crusted camel turds in hours. Have Iran's ferocious ossifers reviewed Argentina's Falkland campaign in requisite detail?

3/21/2007 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

nahncee & pyrthroes, we know that al-Qaeda are foreigners but who do you think make up the homeboy contingent?

When the Republican Guard faded from the scene they did so with one purpose in mind and we're in the middle of it now. They might not win but they can draw blood so it's best to keep them in our considerations. Then we proceed to do what we intended to do at the start.

I'm of the opinion that we do nothing to the Iranian groups that come across the border, and when they go back we let them get across the border and obliterate them. Filming everything of course.

3/21/2007 08:56:00 PM  
Blogger IceCold said...

Even by pathetic MSM standards, this is bad. The JAM has never been a coherent or disciplined operation. It has been characterized by "localism", criminality, and especially wayward "deputies" since the outset. I recall the briefings about the JAM and the one thing that stood out was how disorganized it was, if looked at on a national level. Various "commanders" were always at war with the Mook, or vice versa, over money, or something else, or nothing at all.

I'd classify this development as an intensification of a basic trait, not something new.

mike h. makes a good point about the Rep. Guard fading away. A question that naturally arises is: why was the bulk of the RG, and all of its officer corps, not preventively detained sometime in the fall of '03, when it was clear trouble was afoot? The Iraqi "insurgency" has to be the lamest, most easily defeated one on record - but we have simply chosen not to defeat it.

There is almost complete congruence of ethnic/regional category and "insurgent" status for military-age males. Put most of 'em behind wire, and exactly how would the "insurgency" operate? It wouldn't.

But the decision to fight stupid was made years back, and while we're reverting to a marginally sensible strategy now, the disease runs deep, and don't be surprised if the sum of US military power in land wars continues to be a tiny fraction of its constituent parts.

3/21/2007 10:14:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

...When the Republican Guard faded from the scene they did so with one purpose in mind...

Right, to kidnap children to have them in the backseat of their car to get it close enough to blow up a kindergarten. Color me shocked and awed.

Not.

3/21/2007 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Actually NahnCee, I think the foreigners are doing the heinous acts and the homeboys are trying to do tribal leaders and folks in charge and police. I may be wrong but the reporting is not tracking the types of attacks. Yet to exist in a society taboos and rules of cultural conduct have to be followed.

3/22/2007 02:22:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

dla said...
But amoungst us bloggers I think we can see that the US is WINNING.

Yes, psuedo-conservative bloggers have been saying this for quite some time now, haven't they? Maybe, dla can explain for us how propping up a pro-Hezbollah, pro-Iranian Shiite Islamist gov't that is imposing Shariah throughout Southern Iraq is in anyway a victory. This is conservatism devoid of all sense or knowledge of the present, or more likely, feigned conservatism that does not know first principles.

Conservatives do not believe is social engineering, liberal do. In fact liberal complain that the failed social welfare state wasn't given enough time, and seek to bring it back. Now it's the clueless conservatives who are the great advocates of socially engineering a peaceful, pro-Israel, liberal regime in Iraq! If only we give it more time its bound to succeed. Right.

I challenge dla to refute the following from the AP article:

"The Iranian recruitment of the Mahdi Army fighters appears to be an extension of its efforts to exert influence in Iraq, in part to keep the U.S. bogged down in a war that already has stretched into its fifth year. Iran already has the allegiance of the Badr Brigade, a Shiite militia founded and trained in Iran in the 1980s that maintains close links to Iraq's ruling Shiite politicians."

What part of "already has the allegiance" does dla not understand? And why should a single American life be wasted to defend such a regime? How is that "winning"?

3/22/2007 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Bill Roggio is writing about another Divided Banner battle
fighting between Taliban-back Uzbeks and al-Qaeda backed Taliban in South Waziristan


And here's another one from Iraq Slogger
Since then, the Islamic State of Iraq, another group with links to al-Qaeda, has claimed Baqouba as the capital of its self-proclaimed shadow government.
In response, the Shia Mahdi militia, loyal to firebrand leader Muqtada al-Sadr, has been fighting back strongly.



And of course here at home we have the Divided Banner battle in the Democratic Party, where the Surrenderists are fighting it out with the more pure Suicidalists.


An organized campaign to marginalize anti-war Democrats in Congress and force through the $124 billion wartime spending bill was employed not by Republican Neo-Cons, but by Nancy Pelosi and the so-called anti-war "progressive" MoveOn.org foundation!


And ... Hey People ... you're asking the wrong question. The right question is: What did we do to make them hate those kids in that car?

3/22/2007 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Actually NahnCee, I think the foreigners are doing the heinous acts and the homeboys are trying to do tribal leaders and folks in charge and police. I may be wrong but the reporting is not tracking the types of attacks.

I call bullshit, because this is merely restating that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. They are *ALL* terrorists. All of the beheaders and the hole-punchers and torturers and the blower-uppers and I have no compunction about killing them all, homegrown or imported.

The thing is, the Kurds in the north are doing quite nicely, thank you very much. And why is that, do we think?

It's because they've had their Peshmerga up and running since before the invasion, and the Kurds themselves have made themselves responsible for keeping terrorists out. If the Kurds can do it -- police themselves -- then I'm having a very hard time trying to figure out why the daffy Baghdadi's can't tell the difference between a terrorist and a dentist, and do something about it themselves.

Patience, sympathy and empathy ebbing away in torrential floods from this pro-War American.

3/22/2007 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Ray said...

"an ominous development" - for the insurgents!

The AP is full of "ultramaroons" as Bugs Bunny would say. Whta a bunch of gullibull.

3/22/2007 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

"Conservatives" do not blah blah?

Hm. I liked the conservative camp originally because it seemed the less ideological; I hope it remains that way.

With respect to Sadr, my god, MY GOD! WHAT needs to HAPPEN for us to just KILL this MOTHER. FUCKER.

If only we had crowds of people marching screaming that to the White House and a political opposition that raised the issue. If only. This is pure insanity.

3/22/2007 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger 49erDweet said...

Nahncee asks: "Does that sort of bluster actually work on ANY one outside of AP?"

Yes, it works quite well in euro communities, including most of the UK. It is something they need to believe in order to live with themselves - and their sheltered, quixotic and perverted world view.

3/22/2007 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

Reocon said:
I challenge dla to refute the following from the AP article

What's to refute? I mean, honestly now - so what? If the Madhi army was a minor player before, how do they become a major player in Iran?

Come now, let us reason together.....Iraqi's like us and they see that the hand on the sword right now is Iraqi - not American. Al-Sadr left because he knew he was toast if he didn't - good Muslim that he is, he wasn't ready for 70 clueless women in heaven.

Your writhing over Sharia law is typical of westerners who don't understand the region and didn't read the Iraqi constitution.

I know the "I HATE BUSH BUT DON'T ASK TO EXPLAIN WHY" crowd struggles with this, but Bush the younger has done a good thing in Iraq.

3/22/2007 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

dla said...

What's to refute? I mean, honestly now - so what? If the Madhi army was a minor player before, how do they become a major player in Iran?

My dear dla, we're not just talking about Sadr. Read again the clipping I noted from AP. It says BADR brigade, that's with a B not an S. The Badr brigade is the militia behind the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which is the largest organized Iraqi party and the number two coalition partner in the present Iraqi government.

The premier party in the Iraqi go'vt is Da'wa which means the Islamic call, a group that was designated a terrorist organization/front group for Iran by Ronald Reagan. It's leader, Nuri al-Maliki, the present Iraqi Prime Minister, used to run Dawa's Jihad office out of Damascus, Syria. Are you saying that you do not know this? That the present Iraqi gov't is UNAMBIGUOUSLY pro-Hezbollah and deeply allied with Iran??

Come now, let us reason together.....Iraqi's like us and they see that the hand on the sword right now is Iraqi - not American.

Yes, the Iraqis love us so that they allowed Moqtada al-Sadr to join their ruling coalition. A man who led two uprisings against the US and is responsible for over a hundred dead American soldiers.


Your writhing over Sharia law is typical of westerners who don't understand the region and didn't read the Iraqi constitution.

Are you saying that the dominant Shiite parties have not imposed Sharia throughout Southern Iraq? Do you not know?

http://iraq.suite101.com/article.cfm/troop_withdrawal_masks_the_truth

Constitution?! Bhwah, ha, ha! What "judicial court" is there to stop them?

I know the "I HATE BUSH BUT DON'T ASK TO EXPLAIN WHY" crowd struggles with this, but Bush the younger has done a good thing in Iraq.

By now, I trust, you've done a little research and discovered that the political parties that rule Iraq's coalition gov't are Shiite Islamist parties (Dawa and SCIRI) that:
A. Have indeed imposed Sharia througout the territory they rule.
B. Fully support Hezbollah.
C. Were formed in Iran, trained in Iran, maintain close contact with Iran and are riddled by Iranian agents. Simply read up a bit on the Iranian agents detained by US troops in the compound of Hakim (SCIRI) a couple months ago.
Please explain to us how turining Iraq over to pro-Iranian Shiite Islamist is a good thing.

3/22/2007 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

British Troops Withdraw from Basra
Basra left to Shia Militias
© Julian Worker
Mar 10, 2007

Reducing Britain's troop numbers in Basra doesn't mean the situation has improved for the inhabitants of the city who are at the mercy of Shia militias.
Prime Minister Tony Blair recently announced that the British presence in Iraq would be reduced from 7,100 to 4,200 by the end of the summer. Blair indicated that the reason for this reduction was because the situation in Basra had ‘stabilised’ enough for policing of the city to be undertaken by the 10th Division of the Iraqi army.

The handover to Iraqi forces of Shaibah logistics base south of Basra is imminent. The bases at the Shatt al-Arab Hotel, Old State Building, and the Basra Palace will be evacuated by September. British forces will then be confined to Basra air station, with no patrols going into populated areas.

The number of troops will be maintained at current levels for at least five more years, just in case the Iraqi security forces lose control and need help. The withdrawal of British patrols has been criticized by some because it means that the people of Iraq’s second-largest city will be left to face the militias on their own.

Shias Introduce Sharia Law
The Shia militias took over in the chaos that followed the 2003 invasion and tried to drive out the Sunni minority, so that by 2006 the Sunni population of Basra had fallen from 40 percent at the time of the invasion to just over 13 percent. The militias’ violence and intimidation has remained largely unpublicized because those militias threatened and assassinated journalists.

An example of how the militias treated the local populace occurred when Shia gunmen attacked a group of students who were on a picnic. The students, who had dared to fraternize with each other in public, were beaten and two university guards who tried to help were shot. One female student had her top ripped off, an incident that the militia filmed, burned to CD, and distributed within the city as a warning to any other women who dared to contravene Sharia law. The student, shamed by her public condemnation, later committed suicide.

Oil-rich South is Battleground
There are many Shia groups trying to gain control of the areas around Basra with its potentially lucrative oil revenues. The main group is the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr who has significant influence in Maysan, the province in the British zone north of Basra.

Recently al-Sadr’s militiamen took control of Al-Amara, the capital of Maysan, blowing up a number of police stations before being repelled by Iraqi forces, whilst British forces watched and took no action.

Other Shia groups are keen to obtain control in the area. The Mahdi Army’s main opponent is the Badr Brigade, but they are not the only ones. Throw in the Fadillah, a breakaway faction from al-Sadr, and two factions of Hizbollah and there is plenty of scope for factional fighting.

The presence of Hizbollah indicates the Iranians might be pulling strings behind the scenes to try and gain influence and some much needed oil revenue from part of Iraq that is more or less being allowed to fend for itself. This situation could be a portent of how Iraq might fracture into separate states within a few years.

3/22/2007 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

NahnCee you can call bullshit all you want but if you fight different enemies with the same tactics you screw up big time.

This pro-war American should stop, get rid of some of the choler, and look at the enemy with an eye to combatting each component effectively.

BTW, the reason I call them homeboys is because I don't appreciate giving them a status that could be misconstrued as elevating them. I would much rather see them dead. Summarily. Try reading that into my statements. I would appreciate it.

3/22/2007 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...


Julian Worker?


Julian has travelled in many parts of the world including the Middle East. The problems in this region really interest him as he feels that solving the basic injustices that exist there would make the world a lot safer place to live.

That Julian Worker?

3/22/2007 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

Reocon: Nice cut and paste from the mindless media that screws nearly everything up. But I really think you should get your worldview from more than the MSM.

Start by Googling Sharia law, and I think you'll see that it is not just the Taliban-version in use amougnst Muslims. Then read the Iraqi constitution - you'll note that it specifically provides for Sharia law.

A Militia is not a bad thing. Iraq is divided into the equivalent of states, and these states have to work out issues like defense, revenue sharing, etc.

Iraq is about 26 million people and roughly the size of California. Baghdad is about 5.7 million people. The MSM has focussed exclusively on the subburbs of Baghdad. Don't you think there's more to Iraq than what the MSM has been reporting?

Lastly, Iraq isn't a video game where you can shoot all the bad guys and win a level. And you can't turn it off and resume later with the same scores. Bush the younger has forced real change in the middle east and it's going to take decades to see how it really plays out.

3/23/2007 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

dla said...
Reocon: Nice cut and paste from the mindless media that screws nearly everything up. But I really think you should get your worldview from more than the MSM.

That Basra and Southern Iraq have been under Sharia law imposed by Shiite Islamist parties has been widely reported -- by far more sources than the American media. Are you saying its not true? Do you not know anything about the death of Stephen Vincent?! He wrote for the Weekly Standard, which, if you don't know, is not part of the MSM.

I'm beginning to suspect that you are not very well informed. Please check out the following from Fox News:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,164559,00.html

(Or simply google Stephen Vincent)

Start by Googling Sharia law, and I think you'll see that it is not just the Taliban-version in use amougnst Muslims. Then read the Iraqi constitution - you'll note that it specifically provides for Sharia law.

Ah, your argument twists and slithers so quickly! When I noted that Southern Iraq was under Sharia (and in parts it is quite violent and loathsome), you wrote: "Your writhing over Sharia law is typical of westerners who don't understand the region and didn't read the Iraqi constitution." Indeed I have read the Iraqi constitution and am well aware of its many flaws. It is a terrible document, denounced even by the Bush admin.'s favorite Iraqi dissident Kanan Makiya. Even if it were better written there is still no bureaucratic capacity or will to enforce it. The Soviet Constitution promised all sorts of workers' rights and chocolate sundaes that don't melt in the Summer heat.

dla, are you actually defending the Shiite Islamist sharia as a good thing? Do you know anything about it or how its being enforced by militia like those attached to SCIRI, Fadillah and Sadr? Do you know anything about these groups?

The MSM has focussed exclusively on the subburbs of Baghdad. Don't you think there's more to Iraq than what the MSM has been reporting?

Why yes. There's the Sunni Northwest, the Shiite Islamist South and the pro-Iranian Kurds. Those areas that are relatively peaceful have been consolidated by an ethnic or religious group. Hardly a recipe for peace. Do you not know what's going on outside of Baghdad?

Bush the younger has forced real change in the middle east and it's going to take decades to see how it really plays out.

That there has been "real change" is undisputed, the question is whether it is for the better. When we started this palaver, you claimed that what Bush had done was a "good thing". Now you claim that is will take "decades" to see how it plays out. Hmmmmm.

You seem to be avoiding the most pertinent question: Do you think the present Iraqi gov't, which is made up primarily of pro-Iranian, pro-Hezbollah, Shiite Islamist reovlutionaries is a worthwhile American ally?

dla, do you not know that SCIRI and Dawa were labelled Iranian affiliated terrorist groups by the Reagan admin.? Where are they now?
Can you not face up to the political realities in Iraq?

3/24/2007 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

dla said . .

The MSM has focussed exclusively on the subburbs of Baghdad. Don't you think there's more to Iraq than what the MSM has been reporting?

So let me get this straight. I put up an article that mentions that Basra is under Sharia and you claim that the MSM only focuses on the "suburbs of Baghdad"?

3/24/2007 02:41:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


Powered by Blogger