The Mahdi Army’s strategy memo; Update: Mahdi Army capos flee to Iran

posted at 6:51 pm on January 27, 2007 by Allahpundit

As imagined by defense consultant Gary Anderson. I want to make sure people see it because I think it’s right on target (and, er, because it accords with my own speculation over the past few weeks). The LA Times has an interesting, but ultimately unpersuasive, piece considering alternative explanations for Sadr’s sudden “cooperative tone.” Question: does a man with his own army really care about his approval rating?

Allies of Sadr suggest he has begun heeding the appeals of other Shiite leaders, including Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, to temper his actions in order to preserve unity in the Shiite-dominated government…

Others suggest the cleric has been mellowed by the realities of exercising power. The Sadr movement controls several government ministries, including Health and Transportation…

“If the electricity is cut, people come to Muqtada to complain,” said Ali Yasseri, a former editor of Al Hawza, a pro-Sadr newspaper…

Outside the capital, in Iraq’s southern Shiite heartland, some pro-Sadr groups that took control of provincial governments as reformers turned out to be corrupt and brutal, engaging in gun battles with Iraqi security forces in several cities…

The Al Mahdi army, the fast-growing and powerful militia Sadr launched as a social and political movement to protect impoverished Shiites, is now perceived in many areas as just another armed group terrorizing ordinary Iraqis.

Steny Hoyer hinted yesterday that Congress might bypass the anti-surge resolutions and the somewhat stronger medicine of denying funding for the new troops and instead proceed to the nuclear option: repealing or amending the 2002 Authorization to Use Military Force in Iraq. Captain Ed doubts it would be constitutional. Emily Bazelon thinks it would be:

In October 2002, Congress authorized the use of force in Iraq. It could repeal that resolution and pass another one saying no more war. Or it could reauthorize the use of force on a different and more limited basis. Sen. Robert Byrd argues for reauthorization. The idea is that the reasons we thought we were going to war—Saddam’s supposed weapons of mass destruction and alleged operational relationship with al-Qaida—have nothing to do with the current conflict.

Two questions would follow from a de- or reauthorization of war resolution, as they would from any flexing of congressional war-power muscles. Would the president accept Congress’ judgment, and which branch of government would the courts side with if he didn’t? If Congress spoke clearly enough to repeal the authorization of force, it’s hard to imagine the other branches wouldn’t listen, no matter what the president’s commander-in-chief powers are. As law professor Neil Kinkopf of Georgia State University writes, “When Congress, acting in the vast areas of overlapping power, tells the President ‘no,’ the President must comply.” Harold Koh, dean of Yale Law School, makes a more aggressive argument about the lack of continuing relevance of the 2002 authorization of force.

Ed conceives of the AUMF as equivalent to Senate confirmation of a presidential appointee: once they sign off on it, they’re basically stuck with it until the president pulls the plug. But the appointment power and Congress’s role in it falls under Article II; like the power of the purse, the power to declare war (or grant AUMFs, which derive from the war power) falls under Article I, presumably to be exercised and unexercised as Congress sees fit. I think they probably could constitutionally vote to deauthorize.

It’s an academic question, though, for three reasons. First, the Democrats don’t have the stones to do it. If they won’t defund the surge for fear of being seen as weak and sabotaging a last chance at victory, they’re not going to do this. Second, it would precipitate a constitutional crisis with Bush and Congress playing tug of war with 150,000 troops under fire. If you think faith in government is low now, imagine what the numbers would be if that repulsive spectacle played out. And third, the courts probably wouldn’t touch it. They’re wary of getting involved with foreign policy questions as is; the idea of five unelected justices dictating whether American troops stay or go in Iraq would be horrifying. They’d probably decline to consider the question, figuring that voters would punish the president and his party in the next election if he continued to wage war against Congress’s will.

Tasty food for thought, though.

Iraq’s chief of staff thinks his guys should be strong enough that can get out of there by 2008. I’ve got a feeling that’s what’s going to happen whether his guys are strong enough or not.

Update: Obviously the credibility of this story depends a lot upon which sect the Times’s source belongs to, but if he’s telling the truth, then that strategy memo was dead on.

Death squad leaders have fled Baghdad to evade capture or killing by American and Iraqi forces before the start of the troop “surge” and security crackdown in the capital.

A former senior Iraqi minister said most of the leaders loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical anti-American cleric, had gone into hiding in Iran.

Among those said to have fled is Abu Deraa, the Shi’ite militia leader whose appetite for sectarian savagery has been compared to that of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, who was killed last year.

The former minister, who did not want to be named for security reasons, backed Sunni MPs’ claims that Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, had encouraged their flight. He alleged that weapons belonging to Sadr’s Mahdi Army had been hidden inside the Iraqi interior ministry to prevent confiscation…

With Bush facing heavy criticism at home over the surge, death squad leaders have every incentive to wait out what could be the president’s last-ditch effort to pacify Baghdad.

Exit question: Is Mookie himself on the hit list?

According to a US source, American officials fear that Iran is following the path it took in Lebanon during the 1980s, when Islamists were encouraged to leave the relatively moderate Amal group for Hezbollah. The more militant Iranian-backed group went on to overtake Amal in popularity.

The Americans believe Iran is encouraging a similar split in Sadr’s forces by sponsoring the most extreme anti-Sunni death squad leaders.


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Comments

It would seem the Dems are intent on committing suicide and taking us with them.

.

GT on January 27, 2007 at 7:01 PM

It really doesnt matter. We declare war against Saddam’s iraq. We defeated him and he is gone.

Who are we going to undeclair war on ? The Iraqi inurgency is not the iraqi people. There is more than enough clear evidence that its foreign backed and based.

Do the democrats want to say that we wont declair war on Iran even as Iran is building Nuclear weapons ?

This is stupid on so many levels. The democrats have no legal leg to stand on. Unless they are arguing that they want to restore the Saddam regime.

William Amos on January 27, 2007 at 7:13 PM

They say they want to stop the war, but the war will nor stop until the enemy decides that they are defeated . They just want us to stop fighting.Big Big difference.

bbz123 on January 27, 2007 at 7:16 PM

I’ve got a feeling that’s what’s going to happen whether his guys are strong enough or not.

Big A,

I have a nice shiny quarter to bet against ye on this one. ‘sides, I am on the “go” list come October 1, 2008…could always end up in Afghanistan again, I suppose.

major john on January 27, 2007 at 7:18 PM

Given that I firmly believe that we will be engaged in a full-fledged shooting war with Iran sometime this year, all of this political posturing seems trivial.

But, that’s politics for ya.

Vinnie on January 27, 2007 at 7:41 PM

It becomes increasingly obvious that something is going to happen, and out of all the possibilities that could happen, none of them are good.

rockhauler on January 27, 2007 at 7:41 PM

This is ridiculous to the point of absurdity. The memo was obviously written by someone schooled in the US. No translation ever reads with that much fluidity. The author is a military consultant! What kind of double handed scenerio is playing out here, and right before our eyes. The consultant did tip his hand though. I hope we rock and roll right through Sadyr City. Thats my memo flush them out from their hiding places cause this might be the last chance we get.

sonnyspats1 on January 27, 2007 at 7:46 PM

I want to apologize in advance to Australia, Japan, Taiwan, and Israel. When your people damn us I will completely understand.

Limerick on January 27, 2007 at 7:54 PM

Its nice to see al-Sadyr endorsing President Bush’s troop surge proposal. Why dosen’t the President invite him to the US. He can stay in Massachusetts and bring his constituiency with him. OH on second thought he’ll already have one there.

sonnyspats1 on January 27, 2007 at 7:58 PM

As imagined by defense consultant Gary Anderson.

A bit of clarification please. I see this as being an opinion piece by Gary Anderson and the only part written by Gary is:

How Sadr May See the Surge
If Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army had a planning directorate …
By Gary Anderson

I don’t think Gary is a defense consultant. The rest of the piece is written by a defense consultant as an opposition player during war games exercises, one of our team.

News2Use on January 27, 2007 at 8:03 PM

We need to kill Sadr and his followers. The world would be a better place with out them.

Tim Burton on January 27, 2007 at 8:25 PM

They’d probably decline to consider the question, figuring that voters would punish the president and his party in the next election if he continued to wage war against Congress’s will.

I think they may punish the Congress for even allowing a situation like this to come up. After all, a strong argument is that the vote to repeal authorization directly undermines the troops who are in a war zone. I think that with the New Media to sound this clarion call, the Dem’s in Congress would be toast. Good bye majority. Good bye Presidency. Good by Democrat Party.

Troy Rasmussen on January 27, 2007 at 10:14 PM

Your unerring instincts are correct, Allah: this is agitprop / bullsh+t / disinformation / wish-less thinking

Janos Hunyadi on January 27, 2007 at 11:32 PM

Unfortunately, it makes sense that Congress could repeal the AUMF. They pass a clean air law, the President’s executive branch implements it. That pass a AUMF, the president, as Commander-in-Cheif wages the war as he sees fit. If they can repeal the clean air law, why can’t they repeal the AUMF?

The question is, will they? I don’t think they would. Even Robert Byrd, by posturing, knows that leaving would result in a Very Bad Thing.

DaveS on January 27, 2007 at 11:56 PM

Maybe the democrats could rewrite the Koran. THAT would solve this whole big mess.

Mojave Mark on January 28, 2007 at 1:13 AM

Death squad leaders have fled Baghdad to evade capture or killing by American and Iraqi forces before the start of the troop “surge” and security crackdown in the capital.
A former senior Iraqi minister said most of the leaders loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical anti-American cleric, had gone into hiding in Iran.

So, Here we go, THE EVIDENCE.

Not only is the plan a good plan, but it is SUCH an improvement that the death squads are on the run BEFORE WE EVEN DEPLOY THE PLAN.

Just the Idea of having US troops garrison captured areas under the new plan has them on the run.

wow.

So, Every person that votes this plan down shows that they are a fool. An utter and complete fool.

There is nothing else to say. I’ve been saying this since 2003. It’s in countless documents from the Certer from Peacekeeping studies at the US Army War College.

I’m still pissed that it took this long for us to get a commander that has a basic understanding of large scale military engagement, but now that we have one, and the plan I’ve wanted for years….

BAH.

We’ll see just what the congress has to say and just who’s an elected official not fit to sweep the sidewalks outside the Capitol Building.

Oh yes, we’ll see.

Jones Zemkophill on January 28, 2007 at 1:21 AM

“I think they probably could constitutionally vote to deauthorize.”

First you have to find authorization in the Constitution where CONGRESS can declare “peace,” like they can declare war. There isn’t any such Congressional power. Which means that the only thing Congress can do is shut off financing — which is a power the Constitution gives Congress.

Second, the War Powers Act doesn’t apply, either. The War Powers act requires that absent an authorization for war, the President can act, though he has a time limit in order to report to Congress and for them to approve. But CONGRESS already authorized war in Public Law 107-243.

Third, Congress can pass any law they want, but the President does NOT have to obey any law in violation of the Constitution. Marbury v. Madison clearly states that the President must consider the Constitutionality of a law before enforcing it, and that the sole arbiter of Constitutionality resides in the Courts. As I noted above, Congress does not have the power to “declare peace,” and Marbury states that an unconstitutional law is NULL AND VOID and must not be enforced or obeyed by ANY branch or unit of the government.

Fourth, regardless of the Constitutionality of a public law to force the President to end the war, either by cutting off the funds or the unconstitutional “reauthorizing” the war, the President can VETO it. And it takes a 2/3rds vote in both Houses to override. In neither the House or the Senate do the Democrats have a veto proof majority.

What the Democrats are going to do is set themselves up for a bad beating in 2008. Why? The PUBLIC DID NOT VOTE FOR DEFEAT in 2006. Democrats and liberals delude themselves if they have a mandate to bring about the defeat of the United States. THIS TIME, the Internet, the blogosphere, the New Media will insure that any attempt by the Democrats to bring about defeat will cost them dearly in the polls on election day.

georgej on January 28, 2007 at 6:28 AM

*sigh* The Democrats, once again, are engineering a military defeat for America, after which they can conveniently blame it on Republicans.

Maliki is cozying up to Sadr because he doesn’t trust the Americans to stay till the IDF is ready. Sadr is backing off because he knows the Americans won’t stay.

georgej, the public voted its boredom in 2006. War is unfashionable. This war is doubly unfashionable: no obvious metric for victory and not enough blood and guts for the train-wreck effect.

God help us all if a Democrat takes the White House in ’08.

spmat on January 28, 2007 at 10:48 AM

Anyone know of a good prayer rug company… I think is time to invest.

Gwillie on January 28, 2007 at 1:53 PM

Since there has been an update on the original post,
can I retract my earlier post?

rockhauler on February 1, 2007 at 2:23 PM