Category Archive 'Mahdi Army'

31 Mar 2008

Spinning Sadr’s Ceasefire

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New York Times:

The Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr on Sunday took a step toward ending six days of intense combat between his militia allies and Iraqi and American forces in Basra and Baghdad, saying in a statement that his followers would lay down their arms providing the Iraqi government met a series of demands.

That sounds to me like the Mahdi Army has been getting its clock cleaned, and its fearless leader (generally believed to be directing operations from a safe location on the other side of the Iranian border) is looking for a face-saving way to keep his private (Iran-supported) militia, now facing the Iraqi Army backed by US air power, from being annihilated.

But the mainstream media is on the job, determinedly spinning reports and editorial analyses into gloomy tales of insuperable obstacles, righteous and invincible adversaries, and inevitable defeat for America and her allied government of Iraq.

James Glanz, at the same New York Times, tells us that we aren’t liberators, no, no, no, we are evil foreign invaders, and the Mahdi Army isn’t a bunch of gangsters funded by Iran’s fanatical mullahs. They are homies defending the ‘hood.

Sometime during my four years of traveling to Iraq, I developed a recurring dream in which a Middle Eastern country invades the United States and occupies, among other places, my old neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. The dream flashed briefly through my mind on Thursday as I walked the dirty, broken streets of Sadr City, a teeming Baghdad slum that forms the power base of Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric.

Here is what happens in the dream: Because I know a little Arabic, I somehow find myself a translator for the invaders, even as some of my Chicago buddies are in the alleys plotting against my employers. And each night when I walk home along my beloved Dearborn Street under the rusty elevated tracks and past the White Hen grocery store, I wonder what the guys poring over maps in their armored vehicles plan to accomplish against a few million South Siders fighting in their own alleys. That’s usually when I wake up.
before dismissing the ragtag Mahdi fighters, it would be well to remember that — partly because the alleys of the neighborhoods they control are too narrow for the Iraqi Army’s armored vehicles — Mahdi units like Riadh’s have been fighting Iraq’s federal forces to a standstill in Basra, the country’s southern port city, for nearly a week now.

Alleys: they are dangerous only when used by those who grew up in them. That is the basic reason Mr. Sadr and his fighters simply will not go away in this war.

The Associated Press goes over the history of the last five years with a fine-toothed comb looking for scandals and bad news in order to buttress its cry of indignation over the Iraqi military finding US assistance desirable: After years of effort, Iraqi army still can’t ‘stand up

The US still has armed forces stationed in Germany more than 60 years after the end of WWII. How about an “After Six Decades, Europe Still Cannot Stand Up” story?

McClatchy says negotiations prove Sadr was really winning and the Iraqi government losing.

After failing to break the resistance of Shiite militias in the five-day siege of oil rich Basra, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki sent a top general to hold talks with his Shiite rival, Muqtada al Sadr, Saturday night only to be rebuffed by the firebrand cleric, an Iraqi official close to the negotiations said.

OK, well, maybe Sadr did order his men to stop fighting, says McClatchy a bit later, but the Iraqi Government and the US didn’t make him. It was the noble and peace-loving mullahs of Iran who sent their spiritually-enlightened special forces commander to preach the gospel of peace.

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.

Propaganda aside, it’s pretty obvious that Sadr chose a ceasefire because his forces were taking a beating and that resistance was not sustainable. Letting him have a ceasefire is a mistake. They should have wiped his militia out.

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