Monday, March 31, 2008

After the Surge

About three days ago, when the clash between the Iraqi Army and the Madhi army was in its fourth day, I asked a senior officer returned from Iraq after his presentation whether Maliki would go all the way against Sadr. He said he didn't know, but added that militias were a problem that had to be eventually addressed. Another questioner asked about the quality of the Iraqi Armed forces, and on this point the answer was more definite. The quality was uneven. Many parts of it were rudimentary; some parts of it were extraordinarily good.

But the subject of the talk that night on the strategic history of the campaign in Iraq provided the perfect background to understand how the fight with the Mahdi Army might develop.

Maliki's campaign against the Mahdi Army carries many echoes of the two Battles of Fallujah; with the First Fallujah bearing an extraordinary superficial resemblance to the events -- so far. Like the First Fallujah, Maliki's campaign against the Mahdi Army appears to have begun suddenly, just as the plan to reduce that city was sparked by the unanticipated massacre of a contractor convoy by Sunni insurgents. Like the First Fallujah, the campaign against Sadr has reached a non-binding truce, with Moqtada al-Sadr ordering his men to stop operations. Like the First Fallujah, the truce is really a sham. A half dozen mortar rounds fell again on the Green Zone right after the so-called "truce" was declared. Like the First Fallujah the enemy is claiming political victory, with the New York Times in particular claiming glowing Sadrist victories against US troops who "opened fire randomly in a crazy way and shot many people". Yet like the First Fallujah the current operations are likely to have been a military disaster for enemy forces. Bill Roggio reports that Sadr's men have been decimated by operations, which have been conducted largely by the Iraqi Army.

But the similarities to the First Fallujah, go even deeper. Both operations against were conducted against an enemy in an "unshaped battlefield", meaning one which had not been previously emptied of civilians. The extraordinary interaction between political and military events in Iraq was captured in the adage around MNF-I (according to the senior officer's presentation) to 'fight to the politics'. In the case of the First Fallujah, political forces demanded that an unplanned operation be put together immediately; and it was also political forces which demanded their cessation for fear of civilian casualties.

Ehsan Ahrari at the Asia Times understands both the political roots and constraints of the current battle against Sadr perfectly. He correctly sees that it is a showdown for supremacy within the Shi'ite community for legitimacy. He writes:

What is missing in Iraq is the legitimacy of the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, which is perceived as highly inept and equally corrupt. That legitimacy can only be obtained and expanded by making and implementing comprehensive policies that are aimed at raising the level of comfort and standard of living of the Iraqi people. It is possible that Maliki has decided to acquire that legitimacy by confronting the JAM-related groups, which have been involved in increasing amounts of lawlessness and thuggery in the south.

The fight against Sadr is a struggle for political supremacy and legitimacy among the Shi'ites; and not simply in the context of their representation within Iraq but also with respect to regional Shi'ite politics. Pajamas Media covers Moqtada al-Sadr's claim that he has been betrayed both by Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei and other Iraqi Shi'ite factions. The two aspects of the desired legitimacy, the first in relation to Teheran and the second in relation to domestic Iraqi Shi'ite politics, are amply demonstrated.

Moghtada Al Sadr, who has long been suspected of receiving support from the Iranian government, decided to publicly condemn the Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei. ... Sadr is furious at the fact that members of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), have joined the Iraqi army’s offensive against his forces in important areas such as Baghdad and Basra. ... Al Sadr is not only upset because ISCI has decided to turn its guns against fellow Shiites, but also at the fact that ISCI has been the recipient of a larger amount of aid from Tehran than his organization. This may lead Al Sadr to believe that ISCI has embarked on this adventure, with Tehran’s blessing. This belief would explain why, during his controversial interview with Al Jazeera on Saturday night, Al Sadr condemned what he called “Iranian intervention in Iraq’s security and politics.”

In other words, according to this version of events, Sadr sees this as a showdown for political supremacy among Shi'ite factions. And he is worried that Teheran has sold him down the river and given Maliki the green light to wipe him out.

Like the First Fallujah the effect of fighting in an "unshaped battlefield" will create limits on military operations. Ehsan Ahrari at the Asia Times, of all the MSM outlets, recognizes the problem of "raising the misery index" among Shi'ites explicitly.

If this battle were to raise the misery index in southern Iraq, then his [Maliki's] government is doomed by its very chief constituency. If he is conscious of that reality, then Maliki will have to look for peace signals from Muqtada and opt to negotiate. At the same time, he will continue to face the uncertainty about how serious Muqtada really is in making peace offerings. The Americans in Iraq also know this conundrum, but they are just as uncertain about solving it as Maliki.

The Mahdi Army's best defense is to keep fighting in Shi'ite neighborhoods. This strategy will "raise the misery index" and inevitably put political pressure on Maliki to stop the fighting. And unlike the Sunni insurgents (who in the felicitous phrase of the the senior officer I heard speak) "shaped the battlefield for us", Ehsan Ahrari notes that Sadr may have ways of keeping Maliki from inflicting a Second Fallujah on him. Therefore Ahrari argues that Maliki has no choice but to try and defang Sadr by negotiations.

Another serious problem that Maliki is encountering in southern Iraq is that - unlike the strategy of al-Qaeda that relied so heavily on killing anyone who disagreed with its interpretation of "jihad" in the Sunni sectors of Iraq and thereby alienating the Sunnis - Muqtada enjoys a considerable amount of popularity and support. By unleashing the Iraqi security forces without serious forethought regarding its long-term implications, Maliki might also face the kind of unpopularity in the Shi'ite sectors of Iraq that al-Qaeda is encountering in the Sunni region. Maliki is well advised to avoid that path in every way he can.

I disgree. While Ahrari correctly argues that Maliki's decision to use force against Sadr runs considerable risk, the hard reality is that sooner or later there has to be a showdown between the Iraqi government (which although Shi'ite dominated is neverthless partly made up of Kurds and Sunnis) and the militias. And this showdown can never be concluded purely by negotiation, however one may wish them to be. Recommending negotiations also doesn't address the fact that Sadr and other militias probably won't respect any ceasefires, especially if they are encouraged by NYT stories describing their glowing victories. The mortar volley on the Green Zone today demonstrates that a ceasefire is only understood as working one way.

These realities mean that any cessation in the battle for supremacy between the Shi'ite militias and the Iraqi government is temporary. The showdown is on, truce or no. And this showdown is the next big phase beyond the Surge. There are several features in that landscape that are coming into view.

The coming campaign will probably be an all-Iraqi or predominantly Iraqi affair. The recent campaign was a major test of the Iraqi Army operations without British or US ground forces (apart from Special Forces) involvement. In all the hue and cry demanding a US withdrawal from Iraq, in one sense at least this has already happened. US forces are in the area the way training wheels are on a bike, but as long as they don't materially figure in ground operations, like training wheels which don't come in contact with the ground, they aren't really there.

In the recent fighting against Sadr (in built up areas against an entrenched enemy) the fledgling Iraqi force did not go to pieces; remained under orders (unlike the First Fallujah when whole Iraqi battalions vamoosed); and did not engage in unrestrained attacks on civilian targets. In short, it behaved in an extraordinarily competent way, by regional standards. In contrast, some Iraqi police units (many of which were linked with the militias, dissolved immediately). If we are looking for an indicator of whether or not the Iraqi Army (as opposed to the interior forces) can cut the mustard, recent days have provided a preview.

The second feature of the coming campaign is that it will be about the Shi'ite polity and perhaps, about Iran. This doesn't mean that a ground invasion of Iran is at all contemplated. But the issues around which the fight against Sadr revolve go straight to Teheran.

At the presentation I attended, the senior officer described the remarkable fluidity of the Iraqi battlefield ("a nation bordered by six countries") in which every strategy on either side was matched by a counter-strategy. The collapse of Saddam's Army was met by the rise of the Sunni insurgency. The Sunni insurgency was answered by a political offensive which installed the new government. That new government was challenged by an innovative al-Qaeda strategy aimed at precipitating a civil war between Sunni and Shi'a ("they changed the battlefield on us in Samarra"). The civil war threat was met by the Surge. But now the battlefield is switching again. The question is whether the switch puller is MNF-I or Iran. We know Maliki's hand was on the switch; but one can only guess at the strategic thinking behind it.

My guess is that the Iraqi Army will soon be going through its equivalent of the period between the First and Second Fallujahs. The Iraqi Army, having survived its first major engagement, will probably get much better. While Maliki must scale back operations to avoid the political consequences of increasing the "misery index" among Shi'ites, there is probably no turning back in the showdown. The town isn't big enough for the Iraqi government and the militias. How will things go from here? Probably more "leadership" attack operations against the Mahdi Army; probably more shaping of the battlefield. All preludes to ... what? My guess is that Iran and Sadr are now casting around for a way to reswitch the battlefield in ways that re-engage the US forces on the ground. Unless they can recast the battle in the this way, the current conflict between the Shi'ite factions will eventually be about the role of Iran itself and perhaps the future of the Islamic Revolution.





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31 Comments:

Blogger RWE said...

A recent Internet news article I saw but did not read was entitled “U.S. Support to the New Iraqi Army Appears to be an Open Ended Requirement.”

And this is unlike the Post-WWII U.S. support to NATO and SEATO and numerous other countries’ armies, which so far appears to be Open Ended? In the same manner as our esteemed host, I would like to point out that I have come to despair of ever being able to stop buying food. It appears that I will be buying food for the rest of my life. I have the ultimate Open Ended Commitment there – and it’s not a Bad Thing, considering the alternatives.

An argument against the “negotiate with Sadar” concept is that Sadar’s current weakness largely is the result of the success of the Surge. The security situation improved so much that Shia no longer think they need Sadar to protect them. I would think the Shia could figure out who is causing the problems now.

3/31/2008 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

RWE, are you kidding. Figure out who are the folks causing the problem by now? When we have dead-ender folks in this hemisphere and within the United States of America itself who insist that America is the problem?

Don't hold your breath.

I am glad, however, to see the Sistani crowd politically asserting their Shi'ite supremacy and the Iraqi Army doing the same on the streets. This will inevitably lead to the diminishment of the Iranian radicals and that's the ultimate goal as far as I'm concerned.

Slowly but surely and methodically constrict the hell out of the Iranian radical government.

3/31/2008 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Who's Sistani backing in the Maliki / Mookie dust-up?

And do we care any more what he thinks?

3/31/2008 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff Kouba said...

Great post. Of course, this whole fracas isn't just against al-Sadr, it's also against Iran.

3/31/2008 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Like the First Fallujah, the truce is really a sham.

When will the Western world finally accept that there is never any such thing as a "truce" with Islam? There is ONLY hudna and nothing else.

Yet like the First Fallujah the current operations are likely to have been a military disaster for enemy forces.

The only acceptable definition of a "military disaster" for Madhi forces is Moqtada Sadr attaining room temperature.

it was also political forces which demanded their cessation for fear of civilian casualties.

Which is all true so long as your definition of "civilian casualties" is actually "military defeat". Madhi forces and—to an ever so slightly lesser extent—Maliki could give a rip about collateral fatalities so long as their political objectives are being met.

Any notion of humanitarian concerns by Islam should have been put to rest with the farcical appointment of so many Islamic nations to the UN's Human Rights Council. Such an action constitutes a frank admission that all pretense is no longer necessary.

What is missing in Iraq is the legitimacy of the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, which is perceived as highly inept and equally corrupt.

Glad to see that niggling little issue cleared up. Maliki and Sadr are two peas in a pod. They are both totally amoral power hungry wannabe warlords. One uses his office of state, the other his clerical status. Bush can scrape out more moral authority from beneath his little toenail than either of these thugs on their best day.

Just in case any of you continue to harbor the seriously mistaken idea that Maliki is even marginally acceptable as an ally in the war on terrorism, I give you some quotes by Sami Moubayed as he recounts discussions with Kahudayr “Deport All Muslims Including Me” Taher about Nour al Maliki:

Maliki spoke a very different language, saying, "Our Sunni brothers, by their participation in a broad alliance, have begun to carry responsibilities in the political process." These responsibilities, he said, "will dry up" the sources of terrorism. Fighting the insurgency, he added, would be his government's priority, saying that he hoped to do so by creating "a white front" of Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds.

We’ve all gotten a solid demonstration of Maliki’s intentions to build a “white front” against terrorism. Nothing whatsoever has happened because any sort of lasting peace would enable an outraged populace to begin unseating Maliki at the first opportunity.

The only contradictory statement, which shatters much of the flattering talk revolving around Maliki, was made by Khudayr Taher, a US-based Shi'ite writer who has known Maliki since their days in exile in Syria in the 1980s.

Taher wrote an editorial in Arabic saying that he used to meet Maliki at the local library in Syria, where he would be doing research for his master's degree in Arabic literature, pointing out: "I do not claim that we were friends." Taher said Maliki had "modest general knowledge ... he will be a puppet in the hands of Jaafari, Hakim, the Kurds and Sunnis". He added that Maliki "does not believe in democracy because of his ideological commitments" in al-Da'wa Party, claiming that political Islam and democracy do not meet for someone like Maliki.

In a private discussion held when both men were in Syria, Maliki told Taher: "We declare our acceptance of democracy, but in reality, we are tricking them [the Americans] in order to topple Saddam and come to power." Taher writes: "I swear to God that this is exactly what he said!"

Taher adds that Maliki does not believe in the equality of women and will refuse to give any cabinet posts to Iraqi women, unless those imposed by the Kurds. He wraps up by saying that Maliki is anti-American, and has expressed his anti-American views to friends and in private discourse.

[Emphasis Added]

While the foregoing is dated information, I would bet the farm that no significant alteration in Maliki’s game plan has happened. All external evidence points to this. So, don’t get your hopes up that Maliki has somehow slipped Sadr’s leash or vice versa. These two are bound at the wrist and ankle when it comes to raping Iraq for their own personal gain.

Sadr is furious at the fact that members of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), have joined the Iraqi army’s offensive against his forces in important areas such as Baghdad and Basra. ... Al Sadr is not only upset because ISCI has decided to turn its guns against fellow Shiites, but also at the fact that ISCI has been the recipient of a larger amount of aid from Tehran than his organization.

What! No honor amongst thieves?!? Pauvre petite!

[Sadr] is worried that Teheran has sold him down the river and given Maliki the green light to wipe him out.

Please note the far more important subtext: Not that Sadr is on the verge of political collapse but that Maliki is an Iranian puppet of the same ilk as Moqtada.

At the same time, he will continue to face the uncertainty about how serious Muqtada really is in making peace offerings.

One Muslim worrying about the sincerity of another Muslim. Effing priceless! Taqiyya comes home to roost. Certitude must be a truly rare commodity in the Islamic world. It definitely explains a lot about why Muslims remain mired in the Iron Age.

This strategy will "raise the misery index" and inevitably put political pressure on Maliki to stop the fighting.

Haven’t we all seen this movie before? A lot of this will stop once we halt Sadr’s continued theft of oxygen from more deserving life forms like cockroaches, lice and scorpions.

Maliki has no choice but to try and defang Sadr by negotiations.

For anyone who believes the above load of tommyrot, please ask Israel about the efficacy of their “negotiations” with the Palestinians. Those who think that such a thing can produce any useful results need to watch the video, "Relentless".

the hard reality is that sooner or later there has to be a showdown between the Iraqi government (which although Shi'ite dominated is neverthless partly made up of Kurds and Sunnis) and the militias. And this showdown can never be concluded purely by negotiation, however one may wish them to be.

So, why all the hand waving and pretense of “negotiations”? This face-off should have happened years ago except that Maliki and Sadr were too busy gorging themselves on aid from their respective backers. The objectives of these two thugs intersect only at one single point and that is power over the Iraqi people. Either Maliki kills his rival or becomes (even better) known for his incompetence and ghastly alliance with these terrorist elements.

Sadr and other militias probably won't respect any ceasefires

Look up the word, “hudna”.

The coming campaign will probably be an all-Iraqi or predominantly Iraqi affair.

It had damn well better be. I’m sick and tired of Maliki being allowed to throw American soldiers in front of Sadr’s machine guns. It’s time for the Iraqis to begin paying the price for permitting this sort of political malaise to linger.

the fledgling Iraqi force did not go to pieces; remained under orders (unlike the First Fallujah when whole Iraqi battalions vamoosed); and did not engage in unrestrained attacks on civilian targets. In short, it behaved in an extraordinarily competent way, by regional standards.

This represents the dimmest glimmer of a hope. If American intervention results in whatever given nation suddenly obtaining a functional military, then all other Muslim countries will begin to rethink their rejection of Western ways. Read through Norvell B. De Atkine’s paper “ Why Arabs Lose Wars” for an idea of just how threatening an American trained military would be to all other Arabic nations.

The question is whether the switch puller is MNF-I or Iran.

Crippling Iran would go a long way towards resolving that particular debate.

I still maintain that much of this insanity might have been averted had America merely set up a harsh military dictatorship with rigidly enforced curfews that allowed for our forces to search out and destroy the various militias. Handing over the reins to a bunch of Muslim thugs like Maliki and his ilk has only prolonged everyone’s misery. Especially our own, both in terms of +4,000 military dead and untold BILLIONS of dollars spent. If Iraq is the model for all further intercessions within the MME (Muslim Middle East), then it is patently obvious that this is not a viable strategy.

Where will we unearth the TRILLIONS of dollars needed to extend a similar sort of campaign into all of the other MME countries that must be neutralized? Were this strategy more cost-effective, I would continue to back it. Clearly, IT IS NOT. For this reason, much more innovative measures must be adopted. Targeted killings and massively disproportionate retaliation are the two methods that promise more swift results.

Am I happy at having to propose the need for massively disproportionate retaliations? Absolutely not. Yet, I am far less happy at America losing over FOUR THOUSAND of it finest and incurring debt that our great-grandchildren will be paying off. Islam’s predation upon the West must be resolved and damn quick. The price tag for inaction remains far too high. Furthermore, Islam continues to paint us into a nuclear corner as we continue this “law enforcement” approach to fighting terrorism. Either we begin killing off Islam’s aristocracy and start maiming its various war machines or face the eventuality of a Muslim holocaust. Remember:

ISLAM WOULDN’T HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY.

3/31/2008 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Although the CIA’s enlistment of Google in its spycraft is well-intentioned, I am concerned about any technology that could be used by the terrorists against us. One of the reasons why I am deeply skeptical of the free flow of information among spy agencies is because it increases the ability of a terrorist mole to access information that would be useful to our enemies. Without excellent counterintelligence, important pieces of information we gain against our enemy also flows to our enemy. Moreover, a mole could induce our spies to report information to them about activities of interest to the terrorists.

Hierarchical organizations may have a problem with “stovepiping”, but old clunky organizations may be better suited to counterintelligence than bulletin board systems.

3/31/2008 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

Wretchard wrote:

While Ahrari correctly argues that Maliki's decision to use force against Sadr runs considerable risk, the hard reality is that sooner or later there has to be a showdown between the Iraqi government (which although Shi'ite dominated is neverthless partly made up of Kurds and Sunnis) and the militias.

This perspective oddly fails to include a verifiable and central truth: the "legitimate" Iraqi government is itself composed of, and infiltrated by, numerous militia! Whether of ISCI's Badr Brigades, Dawa's own under-reported militia, the Kurdish peshmerga, or the many ministries infiltrated by the Sadrites. It is a rat's nest of armed groups and competing agendas.

Whether Sadr or Maliki wins this round, Wretchard has come alot closer to admitting that when it comes to Shiite politics, Iran is in the catbird seat. Here's more evidence:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/32055.html

Posted on Sun, Mar. 30, 2008

Iranian general played key role in Iraq cease-fire

Leila Fadel | McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: March 31, 2008 01:55:19 PM

BAGHDAD — Iraqi lawmakers traveled to the Iranian holy city of Qom over the weekend to win the support of the commander of Iran's Qods brigades in persuading Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr to order his followers to stop military operations, members of the Iraqi parliament said.

Sadr ordered the halt on Sunday, and his Mahdi Army militia heeded the order in Baghdad, where the Iraqi government announced it would lift a 24-hour curfew starting early Monday in most parts of the capital.

But fighting continued in the oil hub of Basra, where a six-day-old government offensive against Shiite militias has had only limited gains.

So far, 488 people have been killed and more than 900 wounded in the offensive, Iraqi Interior Ministry officials said.

The backdrop to Sadr's dramatic statement was a secret trip Friday by Iraqi lawmakers to Qom, Iran's holy city and headquarters for the Iranian clergy who run the country.

There the Iraqi lawmakers held talks with Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Qods (Jerusalem) brigades of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and signed an agreement with Sadr, which formed the basis of his statement Sunday, members of parliament said.


Ali al Adeeb, a member of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki's Dawa party, and Hadi al Ameri, the head of the Badr Organization, the military wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, had two aims, lawmakers said: to ask Sadr to stand down his militia and to ask Iranian officials to stop supplying weapons to Shiite militants in Iraq.

"The statement issued today by (Muqtada al Sadr) is a result of the meetings," said Jalal al-Din al Saghir, a leading member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. "The government didn't have any disagreement with the Sadrists when it went to the city of Basra. The Sadrist movement is the one that chose to face the government."

"We asked Iranian officials to help us persuade him that we were not cracking down on the Sadr group," said an Iraqi official, who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.

He described the talks as successful but said hard-line Sadrists could goad the government into over-reacting and convince Sadr that the true aim of the Iraqi Security Forces is to destroy the Sadrists.

"I will not be surprised if the whole thing collapses," he said.

In addition to Sadr, who is in Qom pursuing religious studies, Iraqi lawmakers met Suleimani, said Osama al Nejafi, a legislator on the parliamentary committee formed to solve the Basra crisis.

"An agreement was signed," Nejafi said, referring to Sadr. "Iran was part of the problem and an effective part of the negotiations."

Sadr issued a nine-point statement Sunday saying he would renounce anyone who carried arms against the government and government forces. The statement also asked the government to halt all raids against the Mahdi army, end detentions of militia members who had not been charged and implement the general amnesty law.

To preserve the "unity" of Iraq Sadr called for an end to "all armed manifestations in Basra and in all provinces."

The Qom discussions may or may not bring an end to the fighting but they almost certainly have undermined Maliki - who made repeated declarations that there would be no negotiations and that he would treat as outlaws those who did not turn in their weapons for cash. The blow to his own credibility was worsened by the fact that members of his own party had helped organize the Iran initiative.

"The delegation was from the United Iraqi Alliance (dominated by the Dawa party and the Supreme Council of Iraq), and the Prime Minister was only informed. It was a political maneuver by us," said Haider al Abadi, a legislator from Maliki's Dawa party. "We had evidence (that Muqtada and Iranian-backed militants were fighting security forces) and we sent people urgently ... If we had been waiting for one year in Baghdad we wouldn't have had this result." The delegation is expected to return to Iraq Monday.

Maliki welcomed Sadr's statement as a positive development, said his advisor Sadiq al Rikabi. Anyone who abandons weapons and goes home would not be pursued, he said, adding that the offensive would continue against a list specific targets, but he would not give details, Maliki — who had said he would not leave Basra until the Shiite militias were defeated — was expected to remain in Basra for a few more days, he said.

Following Sadr's announcement a curfew was lifted in most of the capital, while the Sadr controlled areas of Sadr City, New Baghdad and Kadhemiya remained under 24-hour lockdown. The U.S. military still surrounded the Shiite slum of Sadr City, named for Sadr's father and a stronghold of support for Sadr. It was still unclear what the effect the statement had Sunday night.

In another blow to Maliki, his security advisor, Saleem Qassim al Taee, known as Abu Laith Al-Kadhimi, was killed in the fighting in Basra. The Dawa party member had lived in exile under Saddam's regime for 20 years.

"With great sorrow the prime minister's office mourns one of its employees," it said in a statement. "(He) was killed by a treacherous shell during his national duty which was launched by criminal hands who are stained by crime and killing."

In Basra Mahdi Army militants fought to keep their strongholds but were overrun by Iraqi Security Force in the eastern neighborhood of Tanuma. U.S. and British aircraft conducted four air strikes in the city, the U.S. military said. In downtown Basra in the area of al Timimiyah Iraqi forces surrounded the neighborhood as coalition aircraft struck Sunday morning, residents said.

But the Iraqi security forces still couldn't penetrate the vast Shiite slum of Hayaniyah or al Qibla, two Mahdi Army stronghold of Basra.

Following Sadr's statement both the Sadr office in Basra and Sadr City said that their fighters would obey the orders and go home. But militants on the ground in Basra said they would continue to fight in self-defense.

"We will stay in our positions because the government didn't stop the raids and the attacks against the Mahdi Army and their areas," Abu Muamal said. "We are waiting for clear orders from our command and we will not withdraw until the situation is clarified."

McClatchy Special Correspondents Ali al Basri contributed from Basra, Qassim Zein from Najaf and Laith Hammoudi from Baghdad.

McClatchy Newspapers 2008

3/31/2008 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger jagcap said...

"Either we begin killing off Islam’s aristocracy and start maiming its various war machines or face the eventuality of a Muslim holocaust."

Mebbe but I dunno... seems to me that the Prince of Peace gave a different example and that His current representative, Benedict XVI has a different solution to the aggressive nihilism that is Islam.
What's so stupid about peace, love and understanding?

3/31/2008 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Every party in Iraq is "affiliated" to regional and has associated militias. The Kurds have the Peshmerga; as for the Sunnis, the Sons of Iraq were latterly called the Sunni insurgents. That the Shi'ites should have a militia or several isn't surprising.

The Shi'ites are also in the majority so one would expect that a Shi'ite militia would be annointed as the national army in much the same way as Saddam's Sunnis controlled the old Iraqi Army. The remarkable thing is that this isn't the case. Although the Iraqi Army is predominantly Shia (because the Sunnis are the majority and because the Sunnis boycotted it initially) they are an integrated force, with Kurdish and now increasingly, Sunni officers. Some people think the return of the Sunni officers is bad, but that's actually good. Provided the Army itself stays integrated.

The fight to smash the Shi'ite militias was the logical consequence of smashing the Sunni insurgency. If you think about it, that had to follow. Iraq could never be built otherwise.

While many will argue there is no difference between supporting one Shi'ite against another, that's patently untrue. It's like saying there's no difference between supporting one Arab or one Muslim against another.

Right now the core issue is who will prevail in the Shi'ite community. If the argument is that they are all on the same side, all puppets of Iran, then why are they fighting? This is the core problem in the 'there is no difference' assertion. If there is no difference then what is the shooting about? It's about supremacy. And supremacy only occurs when one side is different from the other.

There are similarities to Lebanon. The Shi'ites and even Hamas are in the Lebanese government. But Hamas is not the Lebanese government. And every now and again Hamas tries to take over the Lebanese government and every now and again something stops them.

In the end both the fight against Hamas and the struggle against JAM have domestic and international components. But to argue these struggles are imaginary is incorrect.

3/31/2008 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

What's so stupid about peace, love and understanding?

Nothing, if there's a willing recipient.

3/31/2008 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

In the thread last week it was more or less felt -- taken as a whole -- that Iran was on all sides in this fight and winning handily. Apparently, Iran got together with itself, talked it over, and decided to call a halt.

Generally you can count on people doing what is clearly in their self interest. In this case it is in the interest of Baghdad Politicians to take clear control of the oil resources in the South. There is so much money flowing into Iraq now that my guess is no one is staying bought.

If the result of the fighting is "no safe havens" for the militias, those organizations could be in deep trouble. Their leadership will be dismantled, their heavy weapons seized and their minions will turn more toward crime for additional income (with the population turning on them).

My own theory was that Iran wanted the real confrontation for August-October, with a mere fireworks display for the five year invasion anniversary. They had the resources for a good couple months of havoc in the fall to help force a US pull out after Obama wins.

Perhaps John McCain was in Iraq to tell them "if it must be done, do it now." How come that didn't make it into any of the conspiracy theories?

3/31/2008 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger DocMartyn said...

I would expect that the Iraqi government forces have their own people on the ground, with GPS and communication gear.
They can call in a bomb/missile strike on any group of people they want dead.
The Jihadist's make great boasts about how they can target people with suicide bombers, but an IR laser and mobile phone means that anyone who can see you can now call up the USAF/USN to bomb you to hell.
I hope we start to see Sadr's chronies plastering the walls.

3/31/2008 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

Wretchard wrote:

Right now the core issue is who will prevail in the Shi'ite community. If the argument is that they are all on the same side, all puppets of Iran, then why are they fighting? This is the core problem in the 'there is no difference' assertion. If there is no difference then what is the shooting about? It's about supremacy. And supremacy only occurs when one side is different from the other.

Of course there's a difference between the two combatants. There are many, but which ones are relevant? We might begin, in ascertaining US strategic interests, by asking which side is MORE indebted to Iran, has the deeper ties, is more under the sway of Iranian? What does the Pajamas Media article that Wretchartd linked to ("Sadr Rages Against Iran") tell us about the conflict? Which side, Sadr or Maliki, has the more established reputation for Iraqi nationalism? Is Maliki denouncing Iran's Supreme Leader as virulently as Sadr? Why not?

Maybe, Wretchard, you should take another look at Michael Ware's analysis which you were initially so dismissive of.

Wretchard wrote:
The fight to smash the Shi'ite militias was the logical consequence of smashing the Sunni insurgency.

Wretchard, is being bought of by direct cash payments your definition of being "smashed"? The Sunni insurgency, whether the Ameriya Knights under Abu Abdel, or in Falluja under Col. al-Zobaie, has its leadership INTACT! They are armed, equipped and led by their Baathist officers. They are still vowing to stay apart from the central Shiit government which they view as Iranian interlopers. They take American cash (blood welfare) and boast that they're waiting for the Americans to leave. Smashed? Please.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/23/AR2008032301990_pf.html

"Every time they talk to you there's an agenda," said Miller, the captain who works closely with Zobaie. "You have to figure out what they want right now. If it is this easy, it begs the question: What are we giving them that we don't know that we're giving them?"

What Zobaie wants is for the U.S. military to hand over full control of Fallujah. He believes Iraq's current leaders are not strong enough. Asked whether democracy could ever bloom here, he replied: "No democracy in Iraq. Ever."

"When the Americans leave the city," he said, "I'll be tougher with the people."

3/31/2008 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

TThere are many, but which ones are relevant? We might begin, in ascertaining US strategic interests, by asking which side is MORE indebted to Iran, has the deeper ties, is more under the sway of Iranian? What does the Pajamas Media article that Wretchartd linked to ("Sadr Rages Against Iran") tell us about the conflict? Which side, Sadr or Maliki, has the more established reputation for Iraqi nationalism? Is Maliki denouncing Iran's Supreme Leader as virulently as Sadr? Why not?

Consider first of all that Iran believes the present day Iraq to be a strategic danger to them. If as you argue, Maliki is "more indebted to Iran", then why fight him? Why not simply lie low, wait for the US to leave and then, when they're gone after a good period of quiet, simply run up the Jolly Roger?

The problem with both Michael Ware's analysis is that he assumes Iran is in charge of everything, when obviously they are not. The reasons are plain. Iraq is more than the Shi'a. And the Shi'a themselves are not united.

If you consider Sadr's plaint, it is the classic remonstration of a pawn at the hands of a balance of power manipulator. In this case the balance of power manipulator Sadr is complaining about is Iran.

Therefore Michael Ware's idea that Iran is pulling all the strings, yet somehow pulling them so that each others puppets fire on each other is not logical.

Say rather that the US and Iran are rivals for overlordship in Southern Iraq, and by extension, parts of Iran. This is the true statement. Maliki is playing America against Iran; and he is also to some extent playing Iran against America. But in the end there will be one dominant party, one fundamental victor in the struggle. The only question then, is who that victor is to be.

The falsity of the assertion that Iran is already the victor in Iraq has never been so amply demonstrated as by recent events. After years of the British simply lying back and letting stuff happen, Iran still hasn't won Southern Iraq. And I will say this. Not only have not won Southern Iraq, but they are playing against what Marc Ruel Gerecht called the Shi'a Democracy Option.

There may be no opposition parties in Iran the state; within its borders. But in the larger sense, when you consider the Shi'a arc in the Middle East, there are many opposition parties to the Islamic Regime in Teheran and the US is a big player in the entire fracas.

3/31/2008 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

They can call in a bomb/missile strike on any group of people they want dead.

This would also include anyone they owe money to, anyone who is flirting with their sister, and anyone whose house they might be coveting to take over. I wonder how the American bombers make a determination when one group of swarthy uneducated Iraqi's calls them in to blow up another group of swarthy uneducated Iraqi's. Or is there an American on the ground who's actually making the call.

3/31/2008 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

The real danger in this situation is if it becomes a replay of the Fatah-Hamas fiasco. If you want to see a preview of the "withdraw from Iraq and act at long distance" scenario, look at what happened in Gaza.

Israel withdrew and then the US and other allies set Fatah on Hamas. Hamas won and Fatah got run out of town. So the real peril in the situation is not, as some imagine, that one is setting Tweedledee against Tweedeldum but that Tweedledee might wind up losing. And in this case Tweedledee is far more function and friendly than Fatah ever was.

Remember the remark about "fighting to the politics" I made in the main post, which was the buzz around MNF-I leadership according to what I heard. In this case the big joker in the deck is the 2008 US elections. There's more than a fifty percent chance that either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton will be the next President. That means, if it means anything, that the move against Sadr has to start now. All the recommendations to "negotiate" with Sadr; or gradually disarm the militias presuppose John McCain will be President. If Obama is President we'll see a replay of the withdrawal from Gaza, but on much larger terms.

An analyst friend ran his estimate of the withdrawal scenarios by me yesterday and the only one in which anything remotely works out well is where a multiethnic Iraqi government holds together. That means dealing with the militia problem now.

So in my opinion we shouldn't place much stock in these assertions that Maliki and Sadr are both puppets of Iran scenarios and face the facts. There is a struggle for dominance in the Shi'ite political community in Iran. Whose side should we be on? If I understand Coyotl aright, he's actually saying we might want to prefer Sadr. The only problem is that even hypotehtically, Sadr won't agree to be preferred. He's opted out. And at this point the US and the Iraqi government have some sort of deal. They are our allies of record. So what do we do? I'll pull another phrase out from the dinner talk I attended a few days ago. What do we do? "We fight to win."

3/31/2008 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

? If I understand Coyotl aright, he's actually saying we might want to prefer Sadr. The only problem is that even hypotehtically, Sadr won't agree to be preferred. He's opted out. And at this point the US and the Iraqi government have some sort of deal. They are our allies of record. So what do we do? I'll pull another phrase out from the dinner talk I attended a few days ago. What do we do? "We fight to win."

Don't be silly. I'm not in the least claiming that Sadr could ever be an ally, for a major portion of his mojo is premised on anti-American nationalism. What Wretchard can't seem to process is that another facet of Sadr's appeal to many elements within the Shiite pious lower classes in Iraq is that he's also seen as the most prominent anti-Iranian face, far more so than Maliki and ISCI. (Do you deny this Wretchard?)

Consider first of all that Iran believes the present day Iraq to be a strategic danger to them. If as you argue, Maliki is "more indebted to Iran", then why fight him?

Again, Maliki's not fighting Iran, he's backed by Iran. He's jockeying for power against a Shiite rival that's also backed by Iran. When the battle gets too out of hand for Iranian interests, they'll step in to cool it, just like they did last night. If Maliki were fighting Iran outright, Wretchard, then why not denounce Iran with the same outrage that Sadr has mustered? Are you claiming that Maliki needs Iran to bring Sadr to heal, while Sadr denounces the Iranian Ayatollah, but Maliki is more anti-Iranian than Sadr? Preposterous.

So in my opinion we shouldn't place much stock in these assertions that Maliki and Sadr are both puppets of Iran scenarios and face the facts.

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep. That is the history of this war. Wretchard, why don't you contact some of your experts to inquire just who Maliki is, what his history and ideology is, and what sort of relationship they believe he has with Iran? Should make for a fascinating post.

Wretchard, let me put it in terms I think you'll understand: I believe that when it comes to Shiite Islamist parties the Iranians are laughing at us, as surely as the Qods General is who arranged the current cease-fire. (And Maliki accepted this for what reason?) The Iranians are chortling: "ALL YOUR BASE BELONG TO US!"

I'll pull another phrase out from the dinner talk I attended a few days ago. What do we do? "We fight to win."

So "winning" means backing a corrupt, ineffectual (see this week's "deadlines"), Iranian-backed Shiite Islamist?! Victory! Soon it will be ours to savor, I'm sure. That is until the November elections.

3/31/2008 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

I think there are significant difference between this engagement and Fallujah.

I. Sadr's JAM lost 1500 fighters Killed captured or wounded in Baghdad and Basra in what four days days. That is a significant number, no matter what figure you believe he's started with. The bigger question remains how much of his forces remain loyal to Sadr. I don't think we have a handle on that, but having Sadr make the order to stand down from QOM sure gives some ready feedback. In Fallujah we were unsure what we were facing, and had no one to negotiate with in faith (or in Qom)

II. The fighting continues, throughout the south, but with the border sealed as effectively as it can be, only the hardliners remain with weapons in hand, short on ammunition and begging for death or a miracle.

III. In the press conference immediately prior to the actions, it was stated very emphatically that the tribal elders had called on the government asking that the constant infighting between the various militias to be brought to an end. I don't know how much of that is true, but I have seen it listed in three separate reports using three separate sources.

IV. If the provincial election laws have indeed been signed off by the presidential counsel, then the way is being paved for real local government to establish itself with ties to the central government. While I tend to disagree with much of his conclusions on Iraq, one thing that struck me in listening to Barry R. McCaffrey, General, U.S. Army (Ret.) statements to the Council on Foreign Relations earlier in the month, was the lack of a Central Iraqi Government presence in the provinces. It is a deficit that will have to be addressed before we can responsibly leave the Iraqi's to their own means and security. It is a relationship to be determined by some process between the provinces and the Central Government. This is especially so in Basra, the second largest Iraqi City and the Persian Gulf Oil port for the rest of the country, and potentially for Iranian oil exports (Be it as carrot or a stick).

I think that rather than view this as a rivalry between militias, I see it is the Iraqi army asserting itself as the ruling power on behalf of the Central Government. Everything going forward depends on it.
I do not see this as a Fallujah like confrontation, yet. There are similarities, but there are greater differences. The cause was not political revenge, nor the planning hasty. The effort while sketchy by our standards is solid and deserving of praise for the Iraqi Army Units who are involved.

3/31/2008 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

it's time to stop allowing the islamists "truces" "ceasefire" "calm"

It's time to KILL them..

end of story..

no honor, death at any means of those who seek the west's destruction

it's time to kill and mock them...

it's time to put the FEAR of Allah in them...

The fell they are blessed by Allah, since we do not dare to harm them...

I say, harm them, and bury their heros in unmarked graves in pig skins...

the ignorance of so many in the west, still trying for a peace process, like the issue is the jew. the christian, occupation, oil, colonialism, land?

what the fuck up retards...

islamists are for only one thing, their SPECIFIC version of islam and EVERYONE else is fair game to enslave or destroy...

dhimmi...

say and learn it and understand it....

3/31/2008 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

I believe that when it comes to Shiite Islamist parties the Iranians are laughing at us, as surely as the Qods General is who arranged the current cease-fire. (And Maliki accepted this for what reason?) The Iranians are chortling: "ALL YOUR BASE BELONG TO US!"

First of all, it is beyond the power of Iran to arrange a ceasefire in the Sunni triangle. And the current fighting has affected the Sunni triangle. So the idea that the Surge (which defeated Sunni al-Qaeda) is somewhow the work of Sadr or Iran is illogical.

You seem fixated on the idea that Iran pulls all the strings. That Maliki is in Iran's pocket. So why not just happily watch Maliki shoot at Sadr and vice-versa? After all, no US troops are involved. If all our base belong to them then why are they shooting at each other?

It's a ridiculous assertion. But it's the only way to continue the narrative that MNF-I has lost in Iraq. And they are just laughing at us.

But I know that it is difficult to persuade an entrenced point of view. So let's just watch and wait and see who laughs last.

3/31/2008 06:48:00 PM  
Blogger Fen said...

I still maintain that much of this insanity might have been averted had America merely set up a harsh military dictatorship with rigidly enforced curfews that allowed for our forces to search out and destroy the various militias.

We're still holding to a path that doesn't antagonize "moderate" Islam. We would prefer not to destroy them all.

If Iraq is the model for all further intercessions within the MME (Muslim Middle East), then it is patently obvious that this is not a viable strategy.

Thats short-sighted. We've made alot of mistakes... and we've learned from them. Would be nice (for a change) to have that knowledge and experience translate almost fully to the next war.

3/31/2008 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

Wretchard wrote:
First of all, it is beyond the power of Iran to arrange a ceasefire in the Sunni triangle.

Of course. That's why I was careful enough to write: "I believe that when it comes to Shiite Islamist parties the Iranians are laughing at us . . ." Obviously, the Iranians don't control the Sunni militants. . . though I do recall Rumsfeld's claims that IEDs and EFPs were coming from Iran.

You seem fixated on the idea that Iran pulls all the strings. That Maliki is in Iran's pocket. So why not just happily watch Maliki shoot at Sadr and vice-versa?

I would love to see a real war erupt between Shiite Islamist parties in Iraq, one that makes it plain for its citizens that the Islamist path (Shiite or Sunni)is a dead-end. Politically, philosophically, culturally, economically, militarily. But that war hasn't happened because Iran stepped in and told their parties to cool it. What does that tell you from your entrenched position?

Here is PAJAMAS MEDIA own Jules Crittenden, who seems to have dealt with Iran's obvious powerplay with a firmer grip that Wretchard has to date:

Notice no one is celebrating or waving “Peace in our time!” papers around. The good news is the Iraqis seem to realize this is a temporary arrangement. Some people might be inclined to look at this as evidence of what they’ve said all along. Iran can be a partner for peace. But if anyone had any question about that, it has just been amply demonstrated that Iran has the power to turn it on and turn it off. That makes Iraq, in the absence of American troops, Iran’s bitch.

Don’t worry, it gets worse.

The Qom discussions may or may not bring an end to the fighting but they almost certainly have undermined Maliki - who made repeated declarations that there would be no negotiations and that he would treat as outlaws those who did not turn in their weapons for cash. The blow to his own credibility was worsened by the fact that members of his own party had helped organize the Iran initiative.


I'm sure, pace Wretchard, that Maliki will rally, extirpate the Sadrist menace and establish a secular democracy in Iraq all in time for Johnny Mac to win the November election.

3/31/2008 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Fen: We're still holding to a path that doesn't antagonize "moderate" Islam. We would prefer not to destroy them all.

In case you haven't noticed, just our mere existence serves to "antagonize 'moderate' Islam" and Islam in general. It certainly appears you are unaware of the fact that there is no "moderate" Islam. There may be "moderate" Muslims but they are MINO (Muslims In Name Only) and a huge majority Islam's followers would just as soon lash them or stone them to death as apostates or heretics.

While none of us would prefer to "destroy them all", please try to remember that Islam wants to destroy all of us. I would very much enjoy hearing how you propose to reconcile that glaring discrepancy. The West's contributions to this modern world so overwhelmingly outweigh any of those made by Islam that forebearance in the face of continued terrorism is not just foolish but intolerable.

Islam walks a knife-edge of survival. It constantly antagonizes the West despite the fact that we could annihilate the entire MME (Muslim Middle East) in less than 24 hours. Or, we could simply halt grain shipments and watch the onset of starvation throughout the MME in less than a month. Islam must be read the riot act and given a stark demonstration of the consequences that await further terrorist onslaughts against the West.

Thats short-sighted. We've made alot of mistakes... and we've learned from them. Would be nice (for a change) to have that knowledge and experience translate almost fully to the next war.

Which "next war" is that? An Iraq-style liberation of Syria that will cost America another nearly ONE TRILLION DOLLARS? How, exactly, do you propose we pay for even one more conflict, not to mention the dozen or two needed to mop up the entire MME? There is the strong possibility that it is you who are short-sighted.

Without even a trace of irony, the current war against Islam is devouring all of the money needed to get the West off of the oil teat. While not Islam's direct intent, you can be certain that the Arabs are laughing up their sleeves at our futile attempts to fight them one-bullet-at-a-time.

World War II was not won one-bullet-at-a-time nor will the war against Islam. It will require entire MME cities disappearing into rubble before enough Muslims become sufficiently concerned to begin killing their jihadis. Nothing less will motivate the average Muslim save deprivation and the threat of imminent death. Most especially, death without any opportunity to inflict casualties against their enemy.

Muslims must be polarized against jihadist Wahhabist doctrine. They must be so motivated that they no longer swallow the usual "Death to America" hogwash and realize that their very existence hinges upon eliminating the aggressive and hostile components of Islam.

I have very little faith that anything can actually do this. However, it must be attempted. The only other alternative is a Muslim holocaust. Words fail to describe the utter insanity of spending a trillion dollars to liberate Afghanistan and Iraq only so that these Islamic cesspits could, once again, install that massive abuse of human rights known as shari'a law. Absent our continuing presence, both countries quickly will revert to becoming terrorist manufactories.

Islam must be broken in such a way that it is rendered incapable of making further war against the West. As Machiavelli observed:

"For it must be noted, that men must either be caressed or else annihilated; they will revenge themselves for small injuries, but cannot do so for great ones; the injury therefore that we do to a man must be such that we need not fear his revenge."

Our revenge against Islam for its terrorism and perfidy must be of such a magnitude that we no longer need fear any retribution. Either that or we consign ourselves to a cycle of violence akin to that of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict save on a scale orders of magnitude greater.

The ceaseless lies and distortions engaged in by the Palestinians have already been mirrored in the West's overall dealings with Islam. How many more people must die needlessly for us to understand that our enemy is implaccable and will not be content with anything less that global domination? We must make its continued pursuit of that agenda so incredibly painful and costly that all such notions are abandoned under the risk of outright extinction.

I welcome any well-considered alternatives to such a path.

4/01/2008 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Coyoti: Maliki will rally, extirpate the Sadrist menace and establish a secular democracy in Iraq all in time for Johnny Mac to win the November election.

Does anyone else suspect that Islam intends the exact opposite of this scenario?

Prolong the misery, make America's liberal Left even more guilt-stricken over the self-imposed suffering experienced by Muslims. Ensure a democratic party victory and then watch the Oval Office's new occupant kiss Arab ass so often that they begin blowing their nose with toilet paper.

Naw, Islam doesn't want that. They are hoping for a timely and successful resolution of the Iraqi conflict that'll help usher in a vindicated conservative administration which will continue to kick Muslim hiney until they cry like little girls.

Does anyone really think that Islam gives a royal crap about another several thousand Muslims being slaughtered as they continue to foment untold misery and suffering in the name of shaming the West into withdrawal?

4/01/2008 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

We must make its continued pursuit of that agenda so incredibly painful and costly that all such notions are abandoned under the risk of outright extinction.

I welcome any well-considered alternatives to such a path.


Well, Zenster, might I suggest you drop the insistent conflation of Muslim and Arab? Then acknowledge the largest Muslim nation on the planet, Indonesia, and that it is nothing like the Arab states of the MME? Nor is it Wahhabist or Revolutionary Iran in nature.

Next, who knows? But that strikes me as a good start. On the center-right and beyond we can be far too strident about Islamic societies when we should be, instead, vigilant about Islamic radicals and appreciating that there is a substantive difference between the two.

4/01/2008 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Zenster said...

RattlerGator: Well, Zenster, might I suggest you drop the insistent conflation of Muslim and Arab? Then acknowledge the largest Muslim nation on the planet, Indonesia, and that it is nothing like the Arab states of the MME? Nor is it Wahhabist or Revolutionary Iran in nature.

Lay off the pedantry. If the Arabic nation of Saudi Arabia did not exist in any historical sense, Islam would probably not exist in its current widespread form. Arab nations currently remain the most significant source of terrorism besides the Persian nation of Iran. While Pakistan is not Arab, it would be nothing without the funding of Saudi Arabia. Ergo, Arab nations remain in the spotlight regarding international terrorism. Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon all represent the nexus of much of global terrorism. Please feel free to state otherwise.

You know damn well what I'm referring to and splitting minor hairs while ignoring the rabid warthog's back from which they sprout does no one any good.

we can be far too strident about Islamic societies when we should be, instead, vigilant about Islamic radicals and appreciating that there is a substantive difference between the two.

Horseradish! All of these "Islamic societies" subscribe to the Koran which means that ALL of them want the death of Western civilization. In case you hadn't noticed, "Islamic radicals" aren't the problem. ISLAM IS THE PROBLEM. See my previous post: THERE IS NO MODERATE ISLAM. Muslim clerics have made this point over and over again, in case you hadn't noticed.

As to Indonesia, isn't that where they behead schoolgirls, burn down Christian churches and give slap-on-the-wrist sentencing to the Bali atrocity's mastermind? Isn't that where we sent gazillions in tsunami disaster relief just so they could spit in our eye? No Islamic problem there, nosiree Bob.

Speaking of which, what's your well-considered alternative, Rattlergator? Got one? Or are you just poking at niggling little pissant BS while arriving at the party empty-handed?

4/01/2008 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

Niggardly and pedantic, niggardly and pedantic! Ooooooohhhhh!

Speaking of niggardly and pedantic, Zenster, I've offered my well-considered opinion. You reject it. Fine. However, you seem to be the living embodiment of niggardly and pedantic when it comes to this subject. All readers of this blog are free to recognize that you're Johnny One Note on this matter. Or not.

I do.

I'm also under no imperative to define Indonesia (or others) by the acts of folks on their fringe, no matter how much you babble on and on and on.

4/02/2008 04:49:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 04/02/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

4/02/2008 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger Nichevo said...

For the record, Indonesia is no day at the beach. Aside from Bali and Mahathir, you may note from any Australia-related defense forum that Oz's prime concern for its own national defense is the ability to project force to Indonesia. Like we talked about the Russkies, Aussies talk about Indo.

Not sure you want to move there with your buxom blonde nudist atheistic pierced spouse-swapping not-above-a-few-tokes mate.

Indonesia may not be our problem, as in, Indo didn't hit us on 9/11. That doesn't mean we want to be like them or do what they want.

4/04/2008 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

Very true, and I wouldn't dare suggest otherwise. But it isn't anything remotely like Saudi Arabia. Though they certainly have their elements trying to foment hatred.

This isn't about wanting to be like them, etc. It's about living in a world with them and recognizing their legitimate cultural concerns while not jettisoning ours.

Australia quite naturally has this as a more immediate concern given their proximity to one another. However, I think conservative Australians would admit that Indonesia is not a proxy for the Muslim Middle East.

4/05/2008 04:20:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

...recognizing their legitimate cultural concerns while not jettisoning ours.

I've seen the Saudi's (and other Arabs) ranting about their "legitimate cultural concerns", and now you're parroting them, Rattlegator.

And I've thought about it, and simply cannot think of one single "cultural concern" that Muslims have that we don't already share that is legitimate.

Islamic "cultural concerns" like death to heretics, women not being allowed to drive, father/daughter incest, cousin/cousin marriage, child brides, polygamy, female genital mutilation, and blood money are NOT legitimate, and I'm surprised that you would defend any culture that claimed them as being such.

You might want to Google a Saudi gentleman named al-Turki who has been convicted of rape, abuse and slavery and is currently languishing as a guest in a Colorado jail while our friends the Saudi's try to guilt trip us into freeing him. His defense is that it was not rape, it was not slavery and he didn't mistreat his Filippina maid because EVERYone in Saudi Arabia does that -- it's his "rich cultural heritage" and he didn't know any better.

I simply do not understand why you would want to defend a place where they think like that.

4/05/2008 09:24:00 AM  

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