Moqtada as-Sadr: Nearly Forgotten, but Far from Gone

-

alSadr.jpgSupporters of the surge give many reasons for the dramatic and real reduction of violence in Iraq over the past 16 months. These range from the rise of the Sahwa movement to General Petraeus’s new counterinsurgency strategy to the newfound independence of Nuri al-Maliki’s government, backed by strengthened Iraqi Security Forces. But a major cause that gets significantly less attention is the cease-fire of Moqtada as-Sadr’s Mahdi army, in place since late August 2007.
This cease-fire has lasted through recent attacks on Shiite groups, including Mahdi Army members, in Basra and Sadr City. Some, including Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, have portrayed this as a sign that as-Sadr is committed to the political process. Yet if anything, the cease-fire and the recent actions taken by the American and Iraqi governments have strengthened, not weakened, as-Sadr and his Mahdi Army. New America Fellow Nir Rosen noted this growing strength and as-Sadr’s centrality to Iraqi politics early in 2006, before the Samarra Mosque bombing or the surge.
By all indications, this emphasis on the political process has been successful, though to the detriment of U.S. interests. Sadrists control major blocks of parliament, major newspapers and websites are abuzz with the news that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, in large part under pressure from Sadr and allied lawmakers, announced that he was negotiating a timetable for American withdrawal from Iraq.


As-Sadr has also benefited immensely from the cease-fire. As his movement grew, it was becoming harder to control. It also allowed Iran to influence more extremist elements within the Mahdi Army, through continued support of money and arms.
But as a recent Center for a New American Security report points out, the recent operations by the Iraqi government in Basra and Sadr City may have helped eliminate these more extremist elements. This will allow as-Sadr to reassert control over his movement, while appearing to be reforming the Mahdi Army’s violent, criminal image. It also burnishes as-Sadr’s image as a nationalist who opposes excessive Iranian influence.
These recent Iraqi Army actions also allow as-Sadr to weaken rival Shiite factions, notably the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) supported by the armed Badr brigades. The Badr brigade forms an important part of government security forces, but by positioning himself as a counter-weight to Iranian influence, as-Sadr throws light on the level of Iranian support for groups like the Badr brigade or the “special groups” recently fought by US forces and the Iraqi army.
Thus the surge cannot necessarily be said to have weakened militia groups in Iraq. Rather, we have succeeded in reworking the militia structure, inadvertently aiding the Sadrists both in the streets and in parliament by eliminating their rivals, while not posing a serious threat to the organization. They are still armed, and as-Sadr is still just as opposed to America’s occupation of Iraq, and Iraq’s current government. Ultimately, it is Iraq’s political process that has shifted towards as-Sadr, not the other way around.
— Andrew Lebovich
Note: Though media reports commonly refer to Sadr as Moqtada al-Sadr, in spoken Arabic he is referred to as as-Sadr, which is how Ambassador Crocker, an Arabic speaker, refers to him in his testimony.

Comments

24 comments on “Moqtada as-Sadr: Nearly Forgotten, but Far from Gone

  1. Mr. Forward says:

    July 27, 2008
    Shiite Militia in Baghdad Sees Its Power Ebb
    By SABRINA TAVERNISE
    New York Times
    BAGHDAD — The militia that was once the biggest defender of poor Shiites in Iraq, the Mahdi Army, has been profoundly weakened in a number of neighborhoods across Baghdad, in an important, if tentative, milestone for stability in Iraq.
    It is a remarkable change from years past, when the militia, led by the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr, controlled a broad swath of Baghdad, including local governments and police forces. But its use of extortion and violence began alienating much of the Shiite population to the point that many quietly supported American military sweeps against the group.
    Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki struck another blow this spring, when he led a military operation against it in Baghdad and in several southern cities.
    The shift, if it holds, would solidify a transfer of power from Mr. Sadr, who had lorded his once broad political support over the government, to Mr. Maliki, who is increasingly seen as a true national leader.
    It is part of a general decline in violence that is resonating in American as well as Iraqi politics: Senator John McCain argues that the advances in Iraq would have been impossible without the increase in American troops known as the surge, while Senator Barack Obama, who opposed the increase, says the security improvements should allow a faster withdrawal of combat troops.
    The Mahdi Army’s decline also means that the Iraqi state, all but impotent in the early years of the war, has begun to act the part, taking over delivery of some services and control of some neighborhoods.
    “The Iraqi government broke their branches and took down their tree,” said Abu Amjad, a civil servant who lives in the northern Baghdad district of Sadr City, once seen as an unbreachable stronghold for the group.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/27/world/middleeast/27mahdi.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=middleeast

    Reply

  2. Mr. Forward says:

    “…go back and look at what Iraq was becoming before we set about interfering and finally destroying it.”
    Saddam Hussein destroyed Iraq.
    I (thanks Beatles) wrote the poem April 20, after Basra and before Sadr City, and it was more predictive and less silly than those serious pundits who still stand on their head and try to pretend that al-Sadr’s prestige or power is growing when the facts on the ground clearly indicate the opposite.

    Reply

  3. David says:

    I am very skeptical of your take on al Sadr, Mr. Forward. I do not blame the Iraqis who want their secular society back – go back and look at what Iraq was becoming before we set about interfering and finally destroying it. But that poem is silly, at best.
    If the Iraqis can resurrect their secular society from the destruction we have wrought on them, I will be the first to stand and cheer them on. But destroy Iraq we did. That is a hard, harsh reality. And we have done nothing but build a huge walled fortress in the middle of Baghdad and a dozen or so military occupation outposts.

    Reply

  4. Mr. Forward says:

    “…Many are sick of sectarian, religious politicians. Posters of
    imams and Moqtada al-Sadr, the young cleric who founded the
    al-Mahdi Army, have been torn down and replaced with adverts
    for cell phones and laptops, and recent polls suggested that 45
    per cent of Basrawis would refuse to vote for an Islamic party.”
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article4305
    217.ece
    ———————–
    “Ameri, who met with Sadr in Iran in March during the height of
    the Basra battles with the Mahdi Army, says he believes that the
    cleric bowed to intense pressure at the time and that his
    statement last month urging his militiamen to turn to more
    charitable activities is “effectively dissolving the Mahdi Army
    without losing face.”
    —————
    “Security is better without the Mahdi Army,” said a 42-year-old
    resident who wanted to be identified only by his nickname, Abu
    Israa. “We don’t want them back.”
    Most residents do not seem to miss the Mahdi Army, and the
    U.S. and Iraqi governments hope that sentiment sticks. So Sadr
    City is witnessing a flurry of public works projects – part of an
    effort to build confidence in the government and make it more
    difficult for the extremists to return.”
    http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewiStockNews+articleid_
    2387256&title=On_the.html

    Reply

  5. Carroll says:

    Posted by kotzabasis Jul 10, 12:25AM – Link
    To invert Wolfowitz’s “shared sense of threat”, whose reality, by the way, is well-grounded in history, ”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Well grounded in what history? Explain what history you are talking about.
    As we all know the “politics of fear” is the neo’s main tactic.
    But tell us what history you are referring to…Americans have never been motivated by fear, perhaps revenge, but not fear..except for that unfortunate 20% below the average IQ norm which you find in all populations.
    In fact most Americans spent their post 911 years laughing their asses off at the DHS’s color coded warnings.
    Evidently you wern’t around when our “Shit Happens” slogan was coined.

    Reply

  6. Mr. Forward says:

    Anybody notice a month ago, al-Sadr announced his slimmed
    down super special elite mahdi ninja army version 2.0, you
    know the one that would only attack Occupation forces? Since
    then American casualties have plummeted!
    “Oh Come on Mookie, Let’s Do the Twist,
    Bring it on Mookie, Sheik it like this
    Tehran won’t like it
    Cause Mookie’s pi@@ed
    Well you should see Little Mookie Twist
    You should see Little Mookie Twist
    He fled Iraq
    Now he’s got spit.
    We got Basra, was Mookie’s town
    We got Basra, was Mookie’s town
    Now Sadr City is going down.
    Mookie was sleeping, Mahdi Army ain’t around
    Yeah, Muqtada sleeping, Mahdi Army ain’t Around
    We’re gonna twisty twisty twisty
    Till we take al-Sadr down

    Reply

  7. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag, thank you for showing me how meaningless my
    sentences become if you omit parts of them. The other half of the
    quoted sentence said:
    “to support the glorious and heroic neocon mission, and you stick
    to that triumphant mission, regardless of what history have
    learned us so far about the implementation and results of that
    great project.”
    WigWag, try just to omit words, randomly, from sentences. Then
    you`ll get some real fun!

    Reply

  8. WigWag says:

    “kotzabasis, based on what I`ve read of you in the last years at WTN, you seem to have made up your mind a long time ago..”
    You may or may not like the Kotzbasis point of view, but criticizing him for a lack of intellectual flexibility is silly. After all, almost everyone who comments at the Washington Note made up their minds a long time ago. This particular observation could be added as the preamble to every comment here.

    Reply

  9. Paul Norheim says:

    kotzabasis, based on what I`ve read of you in the last years at
    WTN, you seem to have made up your mind a long time ago to
    support the glorious and heroic neocon mission, and you stick
    to that triumphant mission, regardless of what history have
    learned us so far about the implementation and results of that
    great project. I see no point in trying to influence you on this.
    But it seems fairly obvious to me that those who in the 1990`s
    predicted that the cold war hawks in Washington were looking
    for a new enemy after the collapse of the Soviet Union – useful
    for implementing their imperial political dreams – and who also
    predicted that the islamists would become the new enemy, were
    correct in their predictions.
    Cheers to Pax Americana – and feel free to call me “intellectually
    perverse” anytime you may feel for it. But kotzabasis, I think
    it`s time for you to share your secret with all those curious
    admirers of yours here at The Washington Note: what colors do
    you actually use in your sun glasses?

    Reply

  10. kotzabasis says:

    Paul Norheim
    To invert Wolfowitz’s “shared sense of threat”, whose reality, by the way, is well-grounded in history, into an advocacy of the “politics of fear”, is not only intellectually perverse but also a blind run from history.

    Reply

  11. Paul Norheim says:

    Dan Kervick said: “But foreign policy writers of the center-left,
    like those at the CNAP, continue to focus, not on the large and
    grave issue of the war itself, but on the less important issue of
    the surge. They seem deeply invested in proving to us that the
    surge, which does actually seem to have lessened the violence
    and allowed some room for the restoration of a few government
    services, an modest uptick in economic activity and some
    creeping political progress, is an utter failure and is “damaging
    US interests.” And every day, they seem determined to try to
    convince me that the main reason for deploring Bush’s brazen
    slaughter is because it has helped advance the interests of those
    Big Bad Iranians. To avoid a frank moral condemnation of their
    country, they argue constantly that the error of Iraq is not a
    grave moral error, but a “strategic” error, and they manufacture
    or exaggerate strategic threats.”
    I`m not sure whether this may be a bit off topic, but Paul
    Wolfowitz, probably the main architect of the Iraq invasion just
    published a review at Standpoint.online –
    http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/139/full – of Robert
    Kagans latest book, “The Return of History and the End of
    Dreams”. Among other things, Kagan is proposing a “league of
    democracies” as an alternative to the “coalition of the willing”.
    Paul Wolfowitz openly advocates a “politics of fear”. Here is a
    quote from the review:
    “A very different objection to Kagan’s proposal is that a “league
    of democracies” will be a fragile basis for collective action.
    When crises develop over local problems — in Asia or Eastern
    Europe or the Persian Gulf — democratic solidarity is not likely
    to trump individual countries’ strategic or commercial interests.
    But although the idea of “coalitions of the willing” has taken a
    beating in recent years, there is no obvious substitute for it.
    While shared democratic values may help to draw such a
    coalition together, they are not necessarily the strongest link. A
    shared sense of threat — along with the confidence that there is
    will and capability to resist it — is not only the strongest
    motivating factor bringing countries together, but also the
    strongest deterrent to aggressive action by any regional power.
    How much will the Iraq experience affect America’s ability to
    lead in the future? Kagan doesn’t address that question but his
    answer is implied when he says that the democratic world will
    still look to the sole superpower for leadership, no matter how
    “flawed”. It is striking how US leadership recovered after Korea’s
    unpopular and stalemated war – and even after Vietnam.
    Whether Kagan believes that history’s return will include the
    return of US confidence, and how quickly, is unclear.
    History’s answer to that question will depend on several factors,
    including the leadership capacity of the next US administration
    and whether Iraq ultimately comes to be viewed as a failure or a
    success – albeit a costly one. But America’s future leadership
    role may depend even more on how threatening the world
    appears. Historically, that leadership role has often emerged out
    of a compelling crisis: Pearl Harbour, the Soviet invasion of
    Afghanistan and the Iran hostage crisis, Iraq’s invasion of
    Kuwait, or the attacks of 9/11. Paradoxically, the relative
    security which Americans have enjoyed since 2001 makes it
    easier to doubt the necessity of shouldering the burden of
    leadership. One hopes it will not take another calamity to
    convince us of the need for a vigilant foreign policy.”

    Reply

  12. JohnH says:

    People who see the decline in violence in Iraq also tend to forget that this is an election year in the US. The military’s modus operandi is to keep Iraq from becoming more of an issue than it already is…and to claim that a reduction in violence is due to its progress rather than its diminished prosecution of the fight.

    Reply

  13. John Bennett says:

    The people who see the decline in violence in Iraq as a sign we are winning forget a fundamental lesson from Viet Nam. The insurgents determine when the fight and when they hide. To accept that somehow the surge drastically reduced violence forgets history.

    Reply

  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “And Iraq will start the ball of democracy rolling to the rest of the Middle East and hence consummating Bush’s doctrine”
    What must it be like to speak without conviction, day in and day out, due to some sort of perverse and inexplicable loyalty to person or party?
    It seems impossible for me to consider that Kotz can actually believe in the script he has so faithfully memorized.
    Honestly, when I read Kotz’s comments, I feel fear, and no small amount of sadness. Even with history as our warning, there are those still that will march in cadence to madness.

    Reply

  15. kotzabasis says:

    The slightly “growing strength” of as- Sadr before the Surge Yes but after the Surge NO! It was the military campaign and its political concatenations under Petraeus-Crocker that changed the political configuration of Iraq and weakened as-Sadr’s position, especially after the defeat of the extremist elements in Basra and Sadr City by the Iraqi-American forces. His call to his supporters to stop fighting emanated from his realization that his armed militia was threatened with annihilation.
    It’s as-Sadr that has shifted towards the new political process, almost made in the image of American strategy, and not the other way around. It’s ironic that the neocon skeleton of democracy in Iraq may still be able to put some flesh on itself. And Iraq will start the ball of democracy rolling to the rest of the Middle East and hence consummating Bush’s doctrine.

    Reply

  16. Mr.Murder says:

    You people ignore the success of the surge – more fresh paint for the schools!

    Reply

  17. Dan Kervick says:

    Andrew, you say,
    “Yet if anything, the cease-fire and the recent actions taken by the American and Iraqi governments have strengthened, not weakened, as-Sadr and his Mahdi Army. New America Fellow Nir Rosen noted this growing strength and as-Sadr’s centrality to Iraqi politics early in 2006, before the Samarra Mosque bombing or the surge.”
    Could you provide some empirical evidence for your statement? My understanding, based only on the reading of various news reports, is that since early 2006, the Sadrist movement has experienced a not insignificant amount of fragmentation or factionalization, that Sadr has lost control of some of these factions, and that he has had to distance himself from others which have involved into little more than criminal gangs. And it strikes me that the recent government operation was actually a limited success.
    You also say,
    “By all indications, this emphasis on the political process has been successful, though to the detriment of U.S. interests. Sadrists control major blocks of parliament, major newspapers and websites are abuzz with the news that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, in large part under pressure from Sadr and allied lawmakers, announced that he was negotiating a timetable for American withdrawal from Iraq.”
    If the political process is moving forward at all, I would submit, that advances US interests, since the alternative to the political process is instability and war. And if political forces in Iraq have now successfully pressed the government into negotiating a timetable for withdrawal, that is *terrific* for US interests.
    Finally, you say,
    As-Sadr has also benefited immensely from the cease-fire. As his movement grew, it was becoming harder to control. It also allowed Iran to influence more extremist elements within the Mahdi Army, through continued support of money and arms.
    Could you provide some empirical evidence for the claim that Iran, i.e. the Iranian government, has been supporting extremist elements withing the Mahdi Army? It doesn’t make much sense to me, since the Iranian government seems invested in the success of the Irai government, not violent anti-government factions.
    The Iraq War was an evil war. It was a bald, barbarous act of imperial aggression, fought without a legitimate defensive purpose. According to the two most comprehensive independent studies, it has caused from several hundred thousand to a million excess deaths. It has driven millions of Iraqis into exile. It has destroyed the livelihoods of people across the country, and plunged millions into destitution. It has unleashed a satanic tide of sadism and cruelty across the country. The people who planned and executed this war are war criminals.
    But foreign policy writers of the center-left, like those at the CNAP, continue to focus, not on the large and grave issue of the war itself, but on the less important issue of the surge. They seem deeply invested in proving to us that the surge, which does actually seem to have lessened the violence and allowed some room for the restoration of a few government services, an modest uptick in economic activity and some creeping political progress, is an utter failure and is “damaging US interests.” And every day, they seem determined to try to convince me that the main reason for deploring Bush’s brazen slaughter is because it has helped advance the interests of those Big Bad Iranians. To avoid a frank moral condemnation of their country, they argue constantly that the error of Iraq is not a grave moral error, but a “strategic” error, and they manufacture or exaggerate strategic threats.
    US interests… US interests… US interests. You know, I don’t care any more. For all I know, when this US engagement in Iraq is finally over and done, hopefully during the next administration, the US position in the Middle East will actually be better than it was in 2002. That will actually be even more depressing than a reversal of US fortunes, since it is always demoralizing to see people prosper from evil, especially evil in the form of savagery and aggression.
    The US appears to have succeeded in its aim of getting US oil companies a stake in the Iraqi oil industry, including its super-giant oil fields. Perhaps before long we can expect increased Iraqi production, and will see those high oil prices to decline.
    When that happens, I’ll feel like I’m pumping the blood of Iraqis into my car.

    Reply

  18. Joe M. says:

    Zathras,
    Ignoring the exact details of this post by Lebovich, the point of this argument is basically that Iraq’s politics are conflicted and full of tension. There is a branch of politicians who need American support for their power, and there is popular sentiment that does not have a role in political decision making. Sadr obviously represents those outside the political establishment (even if he has the largest block in parliament).
    My guess is that you are half right and that Lebovich is half right. Sadr probably represents a huge mass (maybe majority) of the Shia public in Iraq, while his movement is probably hated by the less religious. The Sunni public of Iraq are probably sympathetic of his movement’s political positions, but are scared of too much concentration of power in the hands of Shia.
    But the tension that is represented by articles about Sadr and his movement is extremely important for the future of Iraq, and basically asks the question of whether the USA will control Iraq for the foreseeable future (like they do Jordan or Egypt, for example) or whether Iraq will be an independent country (even if in conflict with the west, like Iran).

    Reply

  19. j says:

    Forgotten? By who?
    Sadr has indeed increased his power and reach. This is because
    he is he only authentic nationalist figure with any reach, and that
    he balances his religious authority with social services and
    militia activities. When faced with superior military opposition
    he retreats and issues a very one-sided truce. But the mosque
    and social services continue and continue to bring more people
    to him. His faction in parlaiment determines the success of the
    government. His people have been moving into the ranks of the
    police and army in great numbers.
    Sadr is the nationaist in the sense that he doesn’t want the
    country hived off into super-provinces of Shia, Sunni and Kurds.
    He wants national control of the oil. He wants the US and its
    military out. He wants to limit Iranian influence. He has
    repeatedly called for peace with the Sunnis – whether sincere or
    not.
    Most of the government was in exile in London prior to the war.
    the SIIC/SCSI was in Iran. Sadr was in Baghdad. Baath are now
    well entrenched in the ‘Awakening’ militias and in control of
    Anbar.
    Sadr seems to have lost ground in Basra and Sadr City in the
    aftermath of his showdown with government forces. But he
    retains his militia and most of its weaponry. The loyalty and
    ability of government troops against him is uncertain at best,
    and the speed with which units surrendered to him in Basra was
    impressive.
    Sadr has chosen not to fight the Americans openly. Head to
    head engagement would be folly. But he has announced the
    formation of special units to do just that. I’m certain that when
    the US is vulnerable, withdrawn to bases or departing he will not
    shirk from reverting to military action. In the meantime his
    abilities strengthen.

    Reply

  20. Zathras says:

    If every piece of commentary in the last five years that Sadr had been “strengthened” by this or that development were true, he’d rule the galaxy by now.
    It’s more likely that the current situation is exactly what it looks like: Sadr retains significant support, particularly in lower-class Shiite districts of Baghdad, but suffered significant reverses at the hands of government forces this past spring. Maliki is now moving to undermine his appeal by taking a public stance on behalf of a key part of Sadr’s own agenda, this being a “timetable” for withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.
    That timetable may involve a period of twenty years or more; Maliki hasn’t said, and will assuredly want the Americans there for as long as he thinks he needs them. Calling for one, though, enables him to argue with Sadrists and others over when the Americans should leave, not whether they should leave. This argument won’t necessarily have a lot of impact on when the Americans actually do leave, but that’s probably not the point.
    I’ve noticed opponents of the Americans’ “surge” in Iraq are prone to tie themselves into all kinds of knots trying to argue that, appearances to the contrary, the surge was a failure: Sadr is really stronger, the government isn’t, militias are more important, the reduction in violence is fragile and prone to end at any moment. I’ve never seen the point of rooting against tactical success or denying it when it’s right in front of one, and don’t see that recognizing an improvement in conditions in Iraq is a fatal concession in the argument over the future of the American commitment there.
    This is probably because it is the cost of that commitment to this country, and the dominance of Iraq over all other aspects of American foreign policy, that I principally object to. Other things being equal, I’d prefer some kind of functioning Iraqi government be in place when the American army leaves; progress seems to have been made toward that end, and I’m delighted to see it. But shedding the burden of the commitment in Iraq is what is necessary for the United States; no outcome there, however beneficial to the Iraqis, is worth to us what an indefinite continuation of our present effort would cost.

    Reply

  21. JohnH says:

    As-Sadr’s “emphasis on the political process has been successful, though to the detriment of U.S. interests.”
    OK, so what exactly is detrimental to US interests? Lebovich throws out this gratuitous assertion with absolutely nothing to back it up. Is a decrease in violence bad for US interests? Fewer US casualties? Fewer Iraqi casualties? Use of the political process instead of violence? Seems to me that these are all good things, things that the Bushies said they wanted.
    If Lebovich meant that having a nationalist become a major player in Iraqi politics is bad for US interests, why doesn’t he just say so and explain why? Is it that a nationalist might demand that Iraq’s continue to control their oil and get a fair price for it?
    Yes, it would have been nice to have a Tony Blair-style lap dog in charge of Iraq, but let’s get real–how long could that have lasted? And how much more violence woud the country have had to endure?
    Sometimes a nationalist, such as Hugo Chavez, is a more reliable supplier than a corrupt FOB (friend of Bush), such as Nigeria’s Umaru Musa Yar’adua.

    Reply

  22. Kathleen says:

    Sadrs’ cease-fire is most assuredly a prime reason the violence is down…since Sadr and his father before him were opponents of Saddam Hussein, I do understand how we ended up on different sides of this, but then Sadr was not about to sell out his country’s natural resources.
    UN Security Council authorization for foreign troops to be in Iraq expires every Dec. 31. What’s different about his year? Bush and Cheney won’t be at the helm? Or maybe it’s because last May, when the authorization goes under regular review, the Iraqi Parliament overwhlemingly voted to petition the UN Security Council to NOT RENEW authorization without first putting the question before the Parliament, rather than relying solely on an invitation from Maliki. There’s really no way for the UNSC to renew without the gov’t invitation. The big question is what will do when we lose our UN authorization? The iraqi proposed peace plan called for our withdrawal within two years… We would have been done with this . Sunni then had offered to lay down their arms… now as Sammy points out, we are paying Sunni boodles of bucks.. and we’re back to the iraqi gov’t asking us to withdraw. …this would not be happening if elected officials’ children had to do the fighting and dying.

    Reply

  23. Sammy says:

    – Cement barriers walling off streets and neighborhoods
    – Millions of refugees ethnic cleansed from their homes and neighborhoods
    – Millions of refugees in other countries
    – Millions Iraqis dead
    – $300.00 per month the Army is paying the Sunni and other religious Arab groups not to shoot at our soldiers
    – Cease-fire of Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi army while they reorganize and regroup.
    These reasons have more to do with less violence that the “surge”.
    But of course, we don’t acknowledge these factors in this country.

    Reply

  24. Kevin Hayden says:

    Ever since Gulf War I, it’s been clear that the hesitation to take down Saddam was rooted in the fear that a popular Shia would replace him, possibly allied with Iran, which upsets all the Sunni Arab leaders in the region.
    With Dubya’s invasion, they threw caution to the wind, thinking they could at least gain a Shia puppet they could control with the almighty dollar.
    Yet all along, I could see Sadr had the most popular support within Iraq. And by maintaining a nationalist stance, he offers a rare bird none had expected: a Shia who intends to be neither Iran’s or America’s puppet. He is likely, however, to seek Iranian aid if the US continues to undermine the popular will and maintain a military presence there.
    So now the Bush administration and its Iraq govt allies have to consider postponing Iraq’s election next fall. What kind of free democracy will we call that?
    For a guy considered to be undereducated, he’s sure outwitted the best minds in the Bush administration.
    But then, that seems like a very easy task.

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *