Friday, March 28, 2008


Omar of Iraq the Model describes the political context behind the clashes with the Mahdi Army at Pajamas Media.

This is the first sign of the rising election fever in the south. Word on the street is that Sadrists want to hijack the provincial elections. Everybody knows that their criminal methods can severely reduce the chances for holding fair elections and may grant Sadr’s people huge gains at the expense of other Shiite factions such as the SIIC, Da’wa and Fadheela. The stakes are high for the SIIC in particular whose federal dream in the south, which Sadr is opposed to, hinges on the results of provincial elections.

If Sadr is to be cut down to size before the provincial election law can be passed, presumably his rivals would be able to compete in a relatively more civil way. The outcome of this operation in my opinion will not involve the extermination of Sadr’s militia but rather the reduction of its power.

A truce would then be put in place with mediation by senior clerics, tribal leaders and third-party politicians.

But this would be a mistake - similar to former interim prime minister Allawi’s when he didn’t finish the job back in Najaf four years ago, except that the situation is more complicated this time as both belligerents are from the UIA.

Why? Because leaders like Saddam, Nasrallah and Sadr is always manage to turn defeat into symbolic victory for domestic consumption. If Sadr and a decent part of the movement’s command survive this round, he will portray his movement as an innocent victim of the “occupation and its agents” and will use this for an even louder propaganda campaign after the battle.

The attitude of the other factions towards Sadr was manifested when the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance and the Kurdish Alliance apparently boycotted sessions attended by Sadr's faction. The question of how far Maliki will go against Sadr was partially answered when the Iraqi PM extended the deadline for the militias to lay down their arms. This has led some to suggest that a deal is now in the works.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has extended his deadline for members of the Mehdi Army militia in Basra to lay down their weapons. Mr Maliki said they would have until April 8 to disarm and that they would be given money if they did.

The violence in Shiite areas of Iraq is not over, but there are signs that some sort of compromise is being worked on. After days of strong words, Mr Maliki has announced a 10-day extension to the deadline for militiamen to lay down their weapons.

But it's also possible that Maliki is trying to peel away the less loyal of Sadr's commanders and turn them to his side. Which exactly will be the case the next few days will reveal.

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Blogger Wadeusaf said...

The deadline was not extended, the three day was for rocket launchers small arms etc., the April 9th deadline is an invitation to bring in the heavier weapons, MGs and such.

"The situation in Basra remained tense as a Friday deadline for gunmen to surrender their weapons and renounce violence expired, although a few complied. Al-Maliki's office announced a new deal, offering Basra residents unspecified monetary compensation if they turn over "heavy and medium-size weapons" by April 8." according to Renee Montagne and Dina Temple-Raston of NPR.

I don't know if its just nitpicking but I suspect any gunmen are shortly to be history.

Dead men can't use em, someone might as well benefit.

3/28/2008 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"And let’s not forget Iran. Its role in this chapter of the struggle for power in the south is still unclear to observers. Both sides of the conflict are friends of Iran, yet I think Iran will support the SIIC and prime minister Maliki this time.

It appears, for now, that Iran has begun to abandon this undisciplined movement. Iran has learned over time that Sadr’s militia, although powerful in some regions, is reckless and unpredictable - unlike the rest of the UIA which is consistent and organized in utilizing the power granted to them as the biggest party in the government to their advantage.

It is true that the grand strategies of Tehran and Sadr are quite the same when it comes to their ambitions in spreading their version of totalitarian Shia Islamism in the region. However, Sadr’s ambitious aspirations are not in harmony with Tehran’s tactical plans. He rejects a federal system in Iraq because he wants to control the whole country, while Iran at this stage is only looking forward to having an ally in a stable Iraqi south.

This is why supporting the SIIC makes more sense for Iran as the most reliable party that may be able to make the autonomous region in the south a reality—a reality in which Iran has a strategic interest, as it can turn the south into a friendly buffer zone instead of a thorn in its side.
In the previous thread you say that Maliki is fighting an Iranian Proxie in Sadr, but what is your retort to Kevin's assertion that Maliki is an Iranian proxy?
(you mentioned history, but where do we find a turning point?)

3/28/2008 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

I am not Wretchard, but I would suggest the best historical analogy would be Renaissance Italy.

If Iran is say, the French, then Maliki would be the Pope, and Sadr would be a total French puppet. Maliki unlike Sadr has aspirations to lead the entire nation, not just a part of it peeled off by a foreign patron. Like the Pope, Maliki also has alliances with other powers. Such as the US.

3/28/2008 04:21:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The Romans were Italians, which means they were European, which means they were white...
(but I wasn't there when he said that)

3/28/2008 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Perhaps Iraq is finally the 'next Vietnam' and this is the next 'Tet Offensive' - a war lost in words, after being won in battle.

Quoting ancient history from beyond the dawn of time:

The American people were shocked that the Vietcong/ North Vietnamese Army (VC/NV A) possessed the strength to make the widespread strikes. In the public clamor that followed, President Lyndon Johnson announced a bombing halt and withdrew from the 1968 Presidential race. The policy of Vietnamization was launched, and many Americans concluded that the war was too costly to pursue.
It has always been clear that the press played a vital role in this dramatic shift of opinion.

They succeeded in killing two Americans in the Green Zone. Will that be enough to spook the herd?

3/28/2008 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Don't know if you saw this, wondered if you could fill us in on any local details you might know?
Morton Klein - Obama’s Pastor: Product of privelege not poverty

Barry went to Punahoe, Wright went to an all white (largely Jewish) School!
While Klein, a Jewish kid, grew up in a predominately Afro American section in West Philadelphia as a child, Pastor Wright, didn’t.

He grew up the son of a revered pastor and mother an educator in leafy predominately white Germantown.
What Klein and Wright did share was an educational experience at one of the nation’s elite public high schools, Central High in Philadelphia.

3/28/2008 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger buck smith said...

what is your retort to Kevin's assertion that Maliki is an Iranian proxy?

If we have one Iranian proxy killing off another then we are doing pretty well I would say?

3/28/2008 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Wow, Doug,

If Rev Wright went to Central, he went to the MOST EXCLUSIVE HIGH SCHOOL in Philadelphia.

Out of my Irish Catholic ghetto, only one guy, my best reading-contest-rival, went to Central.

To this very day, Central High School in Philly retains this lofty status, it is expected the most gifted and talented students comprise the Central student body. I have complete respect for them.

If Rev Wright went there, he enjoyed the best that Philly has to offer, a world class high school.

They didn't have a football team, so I sure as hell wasn't interested.

3/28/2008 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger weswinger said...

Doug, could it be that Pastor Wright comes from a political milieu where it is cool to hate your country and everything it stands for?

Or maybe he learned it in that excellent educational climate of the '60's!

Iranian proxies having it out is okay by me. If the US military is the referee though I don't think we should let them tap out. Fight
to the death you brave jihadis!


3/28/2008 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Doug, could it be that Pastor Wright comes from a political milieu where it is cool to hate your country and everything it stands for?

That's not a political milieu, but a social one. They call it ghetto cool, where being uneducated, arrogant, demanding, poverty-stricken and violent is preferrable to what whites and Bill Cosby want them to do.

3/28/2008 06:48:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

That's great, Tony!
Guess it wasn't good enough for the Rev tho.

3/28/2008 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger probus said...

just heard that Sadr has ordered his guys to stop fighting-- that didn't take long once we got our Spec Ops guys in there to help give the Iraqis a little backbone(and airpower)-- did u folks see the Sunday NYTimes articles about how everything is now going to shit in Iraq because of Basra and the Mahdi's?-- duooohh!-- wonder if they'll print a retraction-- Regards, probus

3/30/2008 01:48:00 PM  

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