Monday, April 14, 2008

Understanding the fight against Iran inside Iraq

Understanding War has very good description of the ongoing fight between coalition forces and the Iranian Special Groups/JAM (SG/JAM) combo in Iraq. The article (PDF) should be read in its entirety but I will summarize a few points for the convenience of Belmont Club readers. First we begin with the geography of the battlefield. Imagine Baghdad as the center of a clock and project a swath from 2 o'clock and 7 o'clock until it reaches the borders -- most of which will be with Iran. That is the battlefield. 

Within that area are two major strongholds of the SG/JAM: Baghdad and Basra. Interspersed between are the "Five Cities": Karbala, Hillah, Kut, Najaf, and Diwaniyah, which form subsidiary strongholds. Each stronghold is roughly configured in the following way. The JAM are assigned a task roughly historically equivalent to that of the Viet Cong while the Special Groups reprise the role of the NVA. That is to say the JAM takes care of the "mass base" -- creating safe havens, maintaining information security, etc -- while the SG handles the more complex operations. The whole is under the command or at least the influence of the Iranian Qods.

Within Baghdad itself the SG/JAM force is based in Sadr City, 9 Nissan, Adhamiyah, and Rasheed districts which is roughly at the 2 o'clock position from the Green Zone and well within effective mortar and rocket range. The enemy force -- may I call them that now for convention? -- is supplied along routes leading from 2 and 3 o'clock and from 4 and 6 o'clock out Baghdad. That is the geography of the battlefield.

Next we come to the relative timing of the recent fighting. The recently publicized outbreak in Basra occurred after a prolonged period of escalated fighting between the Coalition and the SG/JAM. The Basra outbreak might be described as the moment Maliki "jumped into the fray". The most obvious origins of the current campaign was when Coalition forces swept up a senor JAM leader in central Kut in early March, 2008, as part of sustained effort to push them out of their strongholds and scatter them. At that time, another Coalition offensive was underway against Karbala and in Babil (which is to the 6 o'clock of Baghdad on the Coalition's own line of communication with Kuwait). The point was that flare-up occurred in the context of a Coalition effort to take the offensive against Iranian-sponsored forces.

Finally we come to the implied strategy of both sides. The SG/JAM combination consists of two elements. One hard core (SG) and the other of varying quality. The SG normally operates outside the urban centers, in a relatively mobile fashion, attacking towns from the outside from their scattered bases in the countryside. The JAM on the other hand, is a comparatively amateur group, broken up into factions and divided among commanders, who do the spadework and provide the eyes and ears for their more professional colleagues in the SG. The enemy believes this "high-low" mix provides the optimum combination against the Coalition.

The Coalition on the other hand seems to have a mirror strategy. Judging by the narrative the Coalition believes that the SGs will never be fully defeated until their auxiliaries, the JAM, are swept up. For example, the Green Zone will never be secure from bombardment until Sadr city is cleared and occupied by the Coalition's own "militia" -- the Iraqi Army. Consequently the Coalition appears to be building alliances with local militias and tribal leaders on the one hand, while using the Iraqi Army to clear and hold the JAM strongpoints on the other. In the meantime the Coalition is embarked on a parallel effort of headhunting operations: raiding high value targets based on intelligence. Thus, while the Iraqi Army and the political officers take on the JAM, defeating them, turning them, recruiting them, there is also a Special Forces type battle going on against the Special Groups.

As I said, read the whole thing. But I hope the summary I provided above is of some use.

Update: Iran Top Threat To Iraq, U.S. Says, Focus on al-Qaeda diminishing says the WaPo

Last week's violence in Basra and Baghdad has convinced the Bush administration that actions by Iran, and not al-Qaeda, are the primary threat inside Iraq, and has sparked a broad reassessment of policy in the region, according to senior U.S. officials.

Evidence of an increase in Iranian weapons, training and direction for the Shiite militias that battled U.S. and Iraqi security forces in those two cities has fixed new U.S. attention on what Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates yesterday called Tehran's "malign" influence, the officials said.

The intensified focus on Iran coincides with diminished emphasis on al-Qaeda in Iraq as the leading justification for an ongoing U.S. military presence in Iraq.

For most of its military history the US has been in the habit of fighting multi-front wars by holding one while crushing the enemy on the other. This strategy allows an economy of resources. There are often not enough troops to meet every threat at once, so the one is temporarily managed while the primary threat is neutralized. The classic example of this one priority front at a time strategy is World War 2. The Germans were to be defeated first. Japan would follow. And it worked. Not everybody was happy with that decision. The men on Bataan were not.

Historically the US made the decision to take on the Sunni problem in Iraq first. It was a complex problem with international dimensions that involved Syria, Saudi Arabia and international terror alliances symbolized by al-Qaeda. It was never the "might US Army versus the Iraqi Minutemen". A whole host of enemy supporters were drawn into Iraq. While the battlefield may have been geographically contained the effects of the conflict were global. Petraeus has defeated not only the Sunni insurgency, but to some extent inflicted losses on Syria, the Saudi Arabian Jihad and on al-Qaeda itself.

But now that front is largely won, or deemed to be won. Whether or not it truly is remains to be seen. But be that as it may, the US is now pivoting its gaze south and east and the second front. The Shi'ites militias -- behind which is Teheran -- now the new strategic focus.

This has been in the works for some time. This was implicit in the buildup of the Iraqi Army. This was implicit in the deployment south of the Baghdad to fight the "Battle of the Belts". This was implicit in the move to quell the "Triangle of Death". All that was a form of shaping the battlefield. It's possible, but not likely, that Petraeus got up one morning and said, "Dang! You know what, I believe Iran is a threat!" It's far more probable that the contingency was already formed in his mind. What was needed was the propitious moment. The commanders had to judge if it was "safe" to shift the focus from al-Qaeda to the South. I think the judgment is that Iran's time has come. Most people should have seen this coming.

I'm pretty certain Iran has. Unlike some commentators, Iran is under no illusion it is fighting itself. Engaging in public exhibitions of violence between its subsidiaries to overawe an American public with their strength. It knows full well it is about to be engaged.

Several questions remain unanswered. First: is MNF-I correct to open this Second Front? Might not the AQI flare up again? Second: how will Iran be tackled? It will depend on three things. The Iraqi Army, the Elections in 2008 and the command plan. Right now those are three variables, the last being dependent.




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33 Comments:

Blogger Mark Pyruz said...

Interesting read. However how does an objective observer of the war reconcile the fact that on the one hand, this perspective makes the claim that Iranian "special groups" are the greatest threat to peace in Iraq, while during the recent Battle of Basra, it was the Iranian Quds commander that brokered an astonishingly successful ceasefire at Qom, Iran? Obviously, there must be given consideration to the relationship Iran enjoys with high ranking Iraqi government officials, as well as powerful elements of Iraq's social elite.

4/14/2008 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

Wretchard -- You've written that you are mystified by those critics who are so deeply suspicious of Iran's ties to Maliki. We, on the other hand, remain perplexed that you seem to be ignoring easily obtainable facts about that very relationship, simply dismissing such concerns as "everyone in that region has a history." I'm curious:

1. What do you believe the relationship is between Maliki and his dominant ally in Shiite politics and coalition partner in parliament, SIIC/Badr?

2. What do you think the CURRENT relationship is between SIIC/Badr and Iran?

3. Are you aware of intelligence reports that Iran and Hezbollah were training and supplying the Badr brigades as late as 2006? That Badr members still are funded by and collect their pensions for being member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards?

4. Why do you think Ahmadinejad was so warmly recieved by Maliki just a few weeks ago? Did Maliki not know of Iran's meddling in Iraqi politics?

5. Do you really believe that American troops should die for a corrupt, Shiite Islamist led government that has enshrined sharia in its constitution?

Curiouser and curiouser.

4/14/2008 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger Elijah said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/14/2008 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

However how does an objective observer of the war reconcile the fact that on the one hand, this perspective makes the claim that Iranian "special groups" are the greatest threat to peace in Iraq, while during the recent Battle of Basra, it was the Iranian Quds commander that brokered an astonishingly successful ceasefire at Qom, Iran?

I think it would be astonishing if it were otherwise. Ceasefires are normally declared by the top commanders of each theater. In the case of the Government of Iraq that would be Prime Minister Maliki or his representative. In the case of of the other side it would be the Iranian Qods commander.

The question is why should ask for a ceasefire, because remember it was ostensibly JAM which wanted the ceasefire. There are two possible reasons. The first is that JAM was being worsted. One can hardly imagine Qods brokering a ceasefire if their men were running rampage. They rang the bell themselves. But the second, I think is more subtle. Both Maliki and the Qods were probably ruining the lives of the Shi'ite communities. Vehicles were curfewed, men were fighting pitched battles, etc.

Fighting still continues -- I predicted as much -- but it now takes place on a much more targeted level. This suits the book of both sides, but for different reasons. For the government it provides an opportunity to fight the war against the SG/JAM right. For the SG/JAM it provides a breathing space and change to regroup.

4/14/2008 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

You've written that you are mystified by those critics who are so deeply suspicious of Iran's ties to Maliki.

Maliki and the Shi'ites in general are both players and the prize in this contest between the US and Iran. If the Iran has ties to the Shi'ites so does America. To the Teheran the Iraqi Army can partially be seen as America's Shi'ite militia, and the training teams or advisers in them can correspond to the Qods.

This is the natural situation when the population is being fought over by two contending parties. The only question is who they will go over to in the end. It was the same with the recent Awakening in Iraq. Every single man and sheik the US dealt with was probably at one time or the other in the pay or influence of al-Qaeda. But the logical conclusion was not conclude the war was already won by al-Qaeda and that the fight between the Anbar Tribes and the Al-Qaeda were an entertainment staged from Damascus or Pakistan. Rather, it was the manifestation of the Sunni population being wrenched from the grasp of al-Qaeda.

In this case it is nearly the same. All the Shi'ite militias have ties with Teheran. The news, which everyone seems determined to ignore, is that one Shi'ite militia is being pitted against the other; that one or several Shi'ite militias are taking operational orders from the US against the Qods. And this, on the face of it, means that the Shi'ite militias are in the process of being pulled from Teheran's grasp.

4/14/2008 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Aenea said...

Elijah: The Americans are convinced that they will easily win the war in Iraq. But they will not see that day. As the Imam [Khomeini] said, 'One day the U.S. too will be history.” - Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei May 20, 2004

1. How can the US win what is now a civil war between different Shi'ite sects? Which side do we pick?

2. Do you think Ali Khamenei is wrong, America is eternal, and that the body and soul of the USA will never suffer the same fate as all other bodies and all other souls?

4/14/2008 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

Wretchard wrote:
The first is that JAM was being worsted. One can hardly imagine Qods brokering a ceasefire if their men were running rampage. . . The news, which everyone seems determined to ignore, is that one Shi'ite militia is being pitted against the other; that one or several Shi'ite militias are taking operational orders from the US against the Qods."

Really, Wretchard?! AGAINST Qods? Then tell me, who is Qods backing in the very NYTimes article you cited for the "Disaggregation" post?

The clashes in Basra pitted the country’s two most powerful Shiite forces against each other: the Mahdi Army and the government security forces dominated by Mr. Sadr’s most powerful Shiite rival, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.

Of course, you can't risk and answer here without first addressing my earlier question about SIIC/Badr's past and CURRENT ties to Iran! How deep is your faith in Ayatollah Hakim?

Was Qods fighting Qods on the streets of Basra? Are we siding with Qods to defeat Qods? I'm reminded of America's selling of arms to both sides during the Iraq-Iran War. Did our side win?

4/14/2008 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Was Qods fighting Qods on the streets of Basra? Are we siding with Qods to defeat Qods? I'm reminded of America's selling of arms to both sides during the Iraq-Iran War. Did our side win?

This is actually what you are asserting and you see it is nonsense. Somehow you believe that both sides are in the pocket of the Iranians to an equal degree. If so, then yes, by your logic Qods fought Qods. And by definition our side would therefore be the winner in any event.

4/14/2008 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger Habu said...

While the JAM may be in the vanguard and the Special Groups the harder strikers one can not read the report without concluding that with out Iranian aid none of these groups could sustain operations in Iraq.

Every page of the report mentions Iranian involvement in all phases of military operations. This coupled with the fact that Multi-National Division-Center(pro US/Iraqi) placed a brigade of soldiers from the Republic of Georgia brings the resurgent Russians into the picture, although they are not specifically mentioned. It certainly does not have to be that way but odds are better than good that this current fighting is in part becoming a proxy war.

The report, if accurate, is a testament to what the US has accomplished in establishing an espirit de corps in the Iraqi forces and local tribal leaders. Page three cites the Sons of Iraq security volunteers as well as Baghdad residence as important HUMINT for interdiction and discovery of weapons caches . These groups were "largely responsible for rolling up the Hasnawi Special Groups (bad guys) in Shaab and Ur.

Fights now include SWAT TEAMS of Iraqi forces claiming blood and victory and building unit cohesiveness. All good signs.

Dhi Qar Province with "nearly" all major roadways passing through it takes on a Gettysburg like importance and once again the Iranian sponsored groups were defeated in this critical area.

The report concludes with the obvious. This ain't you Daddy's Iraq. It now has a more mobile ,hostile and agile force than ever before and with continuing US support is obviously not too far from developing into a very effective fighting force.

Our support with manpower can diminish over time as we continue to cultivate local tribal leaders (HUMINT) and continue to wire the entire Sadr area (ELINT). I am confident that the NRO has tasked a satellite to photo and listening duty, if not two. In the entire ME region I am sur Menwithill, Pine Gap, and areas are vacuuming the ether for all intel programmed to help.
This is a war we're going to win and sooner rather than later. We may well be in Iraq as we are in Japan and Korea but this one is going to be over soon. Why?
Because as I stated, every page of the report mentions Iran, and Iran now has crossed the line in too many areas to remain unaddressed by the US. The bombing will commence at any time and it will be massive and very lethal, taking Iran out of the equation.

Now lets let the Air Force Pilots, Naval and Marine Aviators do their jobs. It should be a good show and very satisfying.

4/14/2008 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger Elijah said...

1. How can the US win what is now a civil war between different Shi'ite sects? Which side do we pick?

Perhaps you should ask the individual who produced the quote. With your rationale, how could Iran win? Why is Iran interested in manipulating and affecting the outcome of the civil war between Iraq Shi'ite sects?

2. Do you think Ali Khamenei is wrong, America is eternal, and that the body and soul of the USA will never suffer the same fate as all other bodies and all other souls?

I believe when an individual, ideology, religious value system, or government states that they wish to conquer or destroy (perhaps as a function of race or religion for example), it might be wise to believe in the strength of their convictions.

Thank you for the questions.

4/14/2008 06:27:00 PM  
Blogger PapaBear said...

If the Iranians lose the irregular war in Iraq, they might find that insurgency works in more than one direction

There are people in Iran who dislike the mullahs, and who may get arms smuggled to them from Iraq

4/14/2008 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

This is actually what you are asserting and you see it is nonsense. Somehow you believe that both sides are in the pocket of the Iranians to an equal degree. If so, then yes, by your logic Qods fought Qods. And by definition our side would therefore be the winner in any event.

A-Ha! So what you deny is that SIIC/Badr are trained, financed and backed by Qods! Correct? Perhaps you can establish a record and state so specifically so we can further plumb the depth of your stunning naivete. Mayhaps you can also elaborate on when you believe this relationship ended.
After all it was only on March 2, that you felt foolishly confident enough to proclaim:

"It has probably now been accepted in Teheran that toppling the new Iraq or subverting it to Iranian control is beyond the capability of the Qods or the Shi'ite militias in Iraq."

http://fallbackbelmont.blogspot.com/2008/03/ahmadinejad-in-baghdad.html

Priceless, truly, but wherever did you conjure such a notion? Have you ever bothered to do even minimal research on your brave new Khomeneist allies in SCIRI/SIIC/Badr?

4/14/2008 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

Wretchard wrote:

This is actually what you are asserting and you see it is nonsense. Somehow you believe that both sides are in the pocket of the Iranians to an equal degree. If so, then yes, by your logic Qods fought Qods. And by definition our side would therefore be the winner in any event.

As to "nonsense" -- not in the least! It depends on which colt got a little stirred up and started kicking the Iranian corral: Badr or Sadr. Wretchard why do you think that Sadr DENOUNCED Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei for "betrayal"?

Did you not read this article in PAJAMAS MEDIA by Meir Javendanfar, or has cognitive dissonance just forced you to actively forget it?

http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/sadr-rages-against-iran/

Here's some key quotes for you to ponder:

Primarily, Al 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.

ISCI, which is led by Ayatollah Abdul Aziz al-Hakim has the support of middle and upper class Shiites in Iraq, while Al Sadr’s Mahdi army has the backing of poor Shiites. 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.” . . .It would not be the first time that Tehran has supported two opposing sides in a conflict, and it would not be the last either.


Clearly, by your logic, Javedanfar is a deluded fool, which is why PM published him.

4/14/2008 07:00:00 PM  
Blogger Habu said...

There seem to be some confused skeptics on who will win this war.

The report, as I just mentioned, condemns Iran as the provocateur in the recent fighting.

It also reinforces what many , including myself, believe will be George Bush's denouement to his Presidency with regard to this war; the destruction of Iran.

We have the weaponry to invalidate Iran as a player in the nuclear arena for decades. We have the cause to do it and the current President with the will to do it. It will get done. General Petraeus and Amb. Crockers recent testimony sealed the deal.

4/14/2008 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

In case anyone missed it the first time:

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.

So Wretchard, you believe we should be backing the Shiite Islamist militia with the STRONGER tie to Iran! Preposterous. Let them kill each other, for their Jihadist lives aren't worth that of a single American soldier.

4/14/2008 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger buck smith said...

It seems to me that Iran has offered a cease-fire and Maliki and the US have kept fighting, maybe focusing on Sadr city more now and Basra later.

Opponents of the war in Iraq often complain about how long we have been there. But one aspect of that is the Iraqs have gotten to know the US military pretty well, the people we have been fighting, too. Once the people in Anbar understood what the US was about and what Al-Qaeda was about, they chose the US. I am betting the Shiites will make the same choice with respect the US versus JAM and Iran.

4/14/2008 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger Habu said...

There also seems to be a spirited poster parsing every sentence while losing site of the overall picture.

I believe it's often summed up as not seeing the forest for the trees

4/14/2008 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger Aenea said...

Elijah: With your rationale, how could Iran win? Why is Iran interested in manipulating and affecting the outcome of the civil war between Iraq Shi'ite sects?

Iran is interested in creating chaos in Iraq, until America cries uncle and begs Iran to step in diplomatically as a peacemaker. They are forced to do this because Bush refuses to meet with anyone. Not John Wayne enough for him.

4/14/2008 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger Aenea said...

Papabear: There are people in Iran who dislike the mullahs, and who may get arms smuggled to them from Iraq

According to Agence France-Presse, ten people have been killed and 160 wounded in an explosion at a mosque in southern Iran.

4/14/2008 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger Aenea said...

Habu: This ain't you Daddy's Iraq. It now has a more mobile ,hostile and agile force than ever before and with continuing US support is obviously not too far from developing into a very effective fighting force.

You might have something right there, for once Habu.

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi troops freed a kidnapped British journalist for CBS News on Monday after finding him hooded and bound in a house during a raid in a Shiite militia stronghold in Basra.

4/14/2008 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger Habu said...

Aenea

Aw shucks ...thanks

4/14/2008 07:42:00 PM  
Blogger Elijah said...

"They are forced to do this because...Bush refuses to meet with anyone."

it is sad that an individual's entire worldwiew is distorted through the perspective of a single man...

“The message of the (Islamic) Revolution is global, and is not restricted to a specific place or time. It is a human message, and it will move forward. Have no doubt ... Allah willing, Islam will conquer what? It will conquer all the mountain tops of the world.”
- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, July 25, 2005.

“The world of Islam has been mobilized against America for the past 25 years. The peoples call, "death to America." Who used to say "death to America?" Who, besides the Islamic Republic and the Iranian people, used to say this? Today, everyone says this.”
- Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, June 24, 2004

“If one day, the world of Islam comes to possess the weapons currently in Israel's possession -on that day this method of global arrogance would come to an end. This is because the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam.”
- Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Former Iranian President, December 14, 2001

“Some 10,000 people have registered their names to carry out martyrdom operations on our defined targets… Our targets are mainly the occupying American and British forces in the holy Iraqi cities, all the Zionists in Palestine, and Salman Rushdie.”
- Mohammad Ali Samadi, Spokesperson, Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign, June 5, 2004

“Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled or incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world... those who study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world.”
- Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

4/14/2008 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Matthew 12 (King James Version)

22Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.

23And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?

24But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

25And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:

26And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?

4/14/2008 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

Habu wrote:

I believe it's often summed up as not seeing the forest for the trees.

It's certainly possible, Habu. However, I would hazard that we won't know what sort of forest or swamp we're in without checking out the vegetation. There are some pretty basic questions here that Wretchard can't bring himself to answer owing to what those answers might mean for this his vision of the "forest". Standing in a patch of poison sumac and insisting that it's good sumac is a pretty boneheaded move.

For example, check out this article in Pajamas Media which claims, as many other sources do, that SIIC/Badr, the party AFFILIATED with Maliki, is the primary choice of Iran over Sadr. Honestly, Habu, what do you make of it?

http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/sadr-rages-against-iran/

If, as Wretchard asserts, the US is backing the the Shiite Islamist militia with the lesser/weaker connection to Iran, than what are we to make of this analysis? That Sadr denounced Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei on Al Jazeera is easy to establish, but what of the rest of it? This is far more than a question of simple focus, such allegiances shape the terrain on which we fight.

4/14/2008 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Pyruz said...

From Asia Times Online, M K Bhadrakumar:

"The deal was brokered after negotiations in the holy city of Qom in Iran involving the two Shi'ite factions - the Da'wa Party and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) - which have been locked in conflict with Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army in southern Iraq. It appears that one of the most shadowy figures of the Iranian security establishment, General Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) personally mediated in the intra-Iraqi Shi'ite negotiations. Suleimani is in charge of the IRGC's operations abroad."

"US military commanders routinely blame the Quds for all their woes in Iraq. The fact that the representatives of Da'wa and SIIC secretly traveled to Qom under the very nose of American and British intelligence and sought Quds mediation to broker a deal conveys a huge political message. Iran signals that security considerations rather than politics or religion prevailed."

"But the politics of the deal are all too apparent. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who was camping in Basra and personally supervising the operations against the Mahdi Army, was not in the loop about the goings-on. As for US President George W Bush, he had just spoken praising Maliki for waging a "historic and decisive" battle against the Mahdi Army, which he said was "a defining moment" in the history of a "free Iraq". Both Maliki and Bush look very foolish."

"[T]o be able to summarily cry halt to cascading violence, and to achieve that precisely in about 48 hours, well, that's an altogether impressive capability in political terms. In this case, the Iranians have managed it with felicitous ease, as if they were just turning off a well-lubricated tap. That requires great command over the killing fields of Iraq, the native warriors, and the sheer ability to calibrate the flow of events and micromanage attitudes."

4/14/2008 10:06:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

We have the weaponry to invalidate Iran as a player in the nuclear arena for decades. We have the cause to do it and the current President with the will to do it. It will get done. General Petraeus and Amb. Crockers recent testimony sealed the deal.

4/14/2008 07:09:00 PM

Let me help.

Neither Petraeus nor Crocker are interested in a war with Iran.

The administration not only never intended nor desired to take on Iran militarily, but will have spent the latter half of its term going out of its way to ensure that circumstances which might have compeled it to respond in such a manner, did not in fact arise to begin with. The opposite of stereotype, but there you have it. One of the unsung achievements of GWB's WH.

I am confident that McCain, if elected, will pursue the same course.

4/14/2008 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"Bush refuses to meet with anyone."

It is not absolutely necessary for heads of state or their ministers to do this themselves, and there are valid reasons for not.

4/14/2008 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

"US military commanders routinely blame the Quds for all their woes in Iraq. The fact that the representatives of Da'wa and SIIC secretly traveled to Qom under the very nose of American and British intelligence and sought Quds mediation to broker a deal conveys a huge political message. Iran signals that security considerations rather than politics or religion prevailed."

"But the politics of the deal are all too apparent. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who was camping in Basra and personally supervising the operations against the Mahdi Army, was not in the loop about the goings-on.


But Maliki would be in the loop if he was a puppet of Iran. And as for operations being turned off, the Iraqi Army has not turned it off. And if two sets of militia factions had to travel to Qom to bury the hatchet between them it means their command and control isn't too good.

4/15/2008 02:30:00 AM  
Blogger whit said...

Yes, we're in a cluster....of trees. A forest with a lot of poison sumac. But we're closer to getting out than we were. In fact, too far along to leave just yet. But the sooner we get out, the better.

4/15/2008 06:06:00 AM  
Blogger Coyotl said...

Wretchard wrote:

But Maliki would be in the loop if he was a puppet of Iran.

What? Since when does one keep their puppet informed of their intentions?

If Maliki is feeling burned by Iran (or his perfidious allies in Dawa and SIIC who negotiated behind his back), he has so far been quieter than Sadr, who has gone on Al Jazeera to denounce Iran for "betrayal". Wretchard what do you make of this fact?

4/15/2008 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

I found some interesting reading at the Talisman Gate in posts like http://talismangate.blogspot.com/2008/03/intifada-that-wasnt.html
I think one of the posts there around that time also addresses M K Bhadrakumar comments, but I don't see it off hand.

It seems to me that there's a whole lot happening and thanks in part to useless news media and coverage there's a whole lot of not seeing the forest for the trees going on. As Rick Neilsen once said, "Stick Around"

4/15/2008 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

"I'm reminded of America's selling of arms to both sides during the Iraq-Iran War. Did our side win?"

Yes. There were two odious regimes fighting each other. We sold arms to both in such a way to help balance them out (actually the Euros were the ones doing most of the selling, especially of the chemical weapons and suchlike, we just did the fine tuning).

They fought until they didn't want to anymore and it ended in a stalemate, with both sides tired out and neither dominating any of their other neighbors...at least not until Saddam decided he wanted to roll Kuwait a few years later.

So we made a few bucks off the deal, didn't take casualties, kept the balance of power in place and maintained at least the appearance of being a relatively disinterested observer. What's not to like?

4/15/2008 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger paladin said...

If iran has already won, as is being suggested, why don't they just ask us to leave? Why do they let us continue to attack the SF groups? Why continue to supply JAM if fighting JAM is part of what keeps us around?

4/16/2008 07:09:00 AM  

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