Cordesman on what’s really going on in Basra

posted at 4:30 pm on March 30, 2008 by Allahpundit

Excellent work as usual from a guy who’s never shied from telling either side what it doesn’t want to hear. I cringe every time I write about Basra since it’s impossible anymore to tell who’s allied with whom and why: Maliki, Sadr, the JAM, the “rogue” JAM, SCIRI, the Iraqi police, and, possibly in cahoots with all of them, Iran. Here’s Cordesman shaking the kaleidoscope:

But it is equally important not to romanticize Mr. Maliki, the Dawa Party or the Islamic Supreme Council [SCIRI]. The current fighting, which the government portrays as a crackdown on criminality, is better seen as a power grab, an effort by Mr. Maliki and the most powerful Shiite political parties to establish their authority over Basra and the parts of Baghdad that have eluded their grasp…

This looming power struggle was all too clear when I was in Iraq last month. The Supreme Council was the power behind the Shiite governorates in the south and was steadily expanding its influence over the Iraqi police. It was clearly positioning itself to counter Mr. Sadr’s popular support and preparing for the provincial elections scheduled for Oct. 1.

American military and civilian officials were candid in telling me that the governors and other local officials installed by the central government in Basra and elsewhere in southern Iraq had no popular base. If open local and provincial elections were held, they said, Dawa and the Islamic Supreme Council were likely to be routed because they were seen as having failed to bring development and government services…

There were also differences of opinion over Mr. Sadr’s cease-fire. Was he simply waiting out the American-Iraqi effort to defeat Al Qaeda before allowing his army to become active again? Or was he repositioning himself for a more normal political life? Most likely, he is doing both. He may be as confused by the uncertain nature of Iraqi politics as everyone else, and he may be dealing with a movement so fractured and diverse that effective control is nearly impossible.

Ace calls me the Eeyore of the right-wing blogosphere, so let me stay true to form by saying that if the goal of the assault on Basra was to cripple Sadr’s popular support and avoid a rout at the polls by his fans, it’s not clear to me that they’ve succeeded. The heavy losses inflicted on the JAM are lovely but there’s no way to know what the breakdown is there between regular forces and Iranian-backed “rogue” forces, and certainly no way to know how that pounding’s going to shake out in terms of voting for the provincial elections. Maybe it makes the Sadrists less intimidating, or maybe it makes them more sympathetic. Likewise, I’m not sure why the offer of truce from Sadr is some unambiguous capitulation and victory for Maliki when we haven’t even seen yet what it means in practice. Israel and Hezbollah reached a truce in 2006; it hasn’t done much to stabilize Lebanon or disarm Nasrallah. If the JAM comes out with its hands up, wonderful. If, instead, Maliki reneges on his promise to run them off the field by declaring “mission accomplished” and pulling out while leaving them with their weapons intact, not so wonderful. We’ll see; the left jumped the gun in pronouncing the surge a failure and I’m disinclined to repeat their mistake in pronouncing this a success. The fact that Iraqi officials sought Sadr out in Iran isn’t the best sign:

The substance of the nine-point statement, released by Mr. Sadr on Sunday afternoon, was hammered out in elaborate negotiations over the past few days with senior Iraqi officials, some of whom traveled to Iran to meet with Mr. Sadr, according to several officials involved in the negotiations…

Many Iraqi politicians say that Mr. Maliki’s political capital has been severely depleted by the campaign and that he is now in the curious position of having to turn to Mr. Sadr, a longtime rival and now his opponent in battle, for a solution to the crisis.

Hope for the best but read the Cordesman piece. A Basra free of the Mahdi Army is really only a Basra owned by militias from SCIRI, Fadhila, and Dawa. A good start, but only if it really is a start. Exit quotation: “The Sadrists will likely view their survival as victory.”


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Sadr is more dangerous than others because of his belief in the “Iraqi Mahdi”

Hujjat al-Islam Muqtada al-Sadr says that the Mahdi would soon return, in Iraq. This rumor, touching the core of Shi’i faith and eschatology, is being spread by Sadr’s preachers. In the Shia tradition, the Mahdi is the 12th Imam, who is in occultation. Muktada al-Sadr says the Americans were aware of the impending reappearance, and that the Americans invaded Iraq to seize and kill the Mahdi. His supporters chant Sadr’s name at rallies to imply that he is the “son of the Mahdi.” Sadr has stated that the army “belongs to the Mahdi” as an explanation of why he cannot disband it, as has been required of other private militias. Although the reappearance of the Mahdi central to Shia thought, it is unusual to raise claims of the imminence of this event, and other Shiite clerics have avoided the messianic ecstasy that such claims can induce.

That is also the dangerous belief of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of forcing some kind of messianic clash.

William Amos on March 30, 2008 at 4:40 PM

It seems to me that the ceasefire emanated from a stalemate and with the recognition from each party that neither could win. Sadr recognized that he can’t unseat or severly destabilize the government; the government recognizes that it can’t remove the Mahdi army.

Perhaps – rose-colored glasses on – that may be a good thing. If both sides recognize that neither can dominate the other, then some sort of reconciliation may occur.

On the other hand, things may just careen further and further into chaos.

Never should have gone into this hellhole.

SteveMG on March 30, 2008 at 4:44 PM

Ace calls me the Eeyore of the right-wing blogosphere, so

let me stay true to form by saying that if the goal of the assault on Basra was to cripple Sadr’s popular support and avoid a rout at the polls by his fans, it’s not clear to me that they’ve succeeded.

With all due respect to Cordesman’s speculations. Why can’t we take the action in Bashra at face value? That it was an assault on Bashra by the Iraqi government to gain control over an area that was being controlled by non-government militias many of which operate like the Mafia?

bnelson44 on March 30, 2008 at 4:44 PM

My husband is a Master Sergeant (MSG) in the U.S. Army, subject matter expert in Religious Leader Engagement and author of the Army Leader’s Guide to Shiaism. He says this about Sadr in reference to the Newsweek cover story calling Sadr the Most Dangerous Man in Iraq:

Moqtada al Sadr is one of the most misunderstood figures in the Iraq war.

Far from being a terrorist or even a jihadist, Sadr is a very serious Hojat al Islam (advanced student of Islam) with a most sincere approach to his religious faith. Sadr’s Uncle was assassinated by Saddam in 1981 and Sadr’s father, the Ayatollah Sadiq al Sadr was one of the most courageous clerics in Iraq who stood up to Saddam and was executed in 1999. Two of Moqtada’s brothers were also murdered by Saddam’s brutal and often godless regime.

Sadr is being completely consistent with Shia Islam is his uncompromising declaration that the Americans must leave Iraq. Sadr’s Mahdi Army has defended Sadr city from Sunni insurgents and terrorists as well as provided substantial social support to impoverished Shiites.

Newsweek’s sensationalist cover story is fatally flawed entertainment – not journalism. Without covering the background of the brutal and bloody oppression of Iraq’s Shia by the Baath Party Saddamist machine and the catastrophic failure of America to protect Iraaq’s majority Shia after the first Gulf War 1990-1991, it is impossible to understand Sadr.

Sadr, or how he is referred to by General Petraeus, Sayid Moqtada al Sadr (an honorific title acknowledging his descent from the Prophet Mohammed’s family), has abandoned military operations (in all but the most necessary situations of self defense for his Shiite followers) in favor of theology. His says he now wants to fight with doctrine and scholarship. Sadr is studying in the Najaf Hawza (the massive Shiite seminary complex) to become an Ayatollah, a process that takes many years and intense scholarship efforts.

Unless one weighs in theological factors such as the Shiite belief in the 12th or “Hidden Imam” who is to return at the end of time to establish justice and brotherhood on the earth, one can only see the angry cleric with clenched fist and scowling visage. I am not a Muslim nor do I believe in Islam, but to paint such an insulting and inaccurate caricature of Sayid Moqtada al Sadr such as Newsweek’s cover story will only hurt the US interests in the region.

Islam will outlive all our efforts to establish a democratic regime in Iraq, and any success by the US and Coalition partners will require a change of heart about Iraqi clerics who defacto run the country. Our own distorted and unconstitutional aversion to all things religious is backfiring on our missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Counterinsurgency requires the host nation, not the interventionists to win – on their terms, with their own cultural norms. We will never succeed in counterinsurgency operations in religious societies when we openly mock their religious leaders (and by extension, their religion). This may actually be contributing to the American body count; and wreckless American journalists may be fueling the very sincere efforts of some in Iraq to defend their belief in God.

Amy Proctor on March 30, 2008 at 4:45 PM

Its all going to depend on who has boots on the streets of those cities when this is all played out.

The Central Government had to do somthing to try to gain control, but I think this is just the first round of an ongoing mess.

Key here is not just the Iraqi elections, but the upcoming American Elections as well. Landscape really will change based on who becomes President, and everyone over there knows it.

This, IMO, was Al Malikis play to attain some stability for his government in case a Dem is elected… he has a few months to do so, but the clock is ticking.

Romeo13 on March 30, 2008 at 4:49 PM

That it was an assault on Bashra by the Iraqi government to gain control over an area that was being controlled by non-government militias many of which operate like the Mafia?

But was this accomplished? I don’t know much about the cease-fire, only that Sadr ordered his guys to stop fighting but not turn over their weapons. Has the Maliki government taken control over Basra?

Tom_Shipley on March 30, 2008 at 4:51 PM

“…some of whom traveled to Iran to meet with Mr. Sadr

Mrs. Clinton?
Mr. Obama?
Mrs. Pelosi?
Mr. Reid?
Mr. Murtha?

….. anyone care to comment?

Anyone?

Seven Percent Solution on March 30, 2008 at 4:56 PM

As always, the eternal question; why is Sadr not dead now for a few years?

Midas on March 30, 2008 at 4:56 PM

But was this accomplished? I don’t know much about the cease-fire, only that Sadr ordered his guys to stop fighting but not turn over their weapons. Has the Maliki government taken control over Basra?

Tom_Shipley on March 30, 2008 at 4:51 PM

I haven’t seen any news stories addressing this one way or another yet. Many of the news stories are addressing the situation as court gossip and not hard news.

bnelson44 on March 30, 2008 at 4:56 PM

Does anyone really listen to Cordesman anymore?

davod on March 30, 2008 at 4:57 PM

Amy Proctor on March 30, 2008 at 4:45 PM

Thanks, Amy!

bnelson44 on March 30, 2008 at 4:58 PM

Warlord vs. Warlord
By Fred Kaplan:
“The wars in Iraq (the plural is no typo) are about to expand and possibly explode, so it might be useful to have some notion of what we’re in for.

Here is President George W. Bush, speaking this morning in Dayton, Ohio, and revealing once again that he has no notion.

“As we speak, Iraqi security forces are waging a tough battle against militia fighters and criminals in Basra—many of whom have received arms and training and funding from Iran. … This offensive builds on the security gains of the surge and demonstrates to the Iraqi people that their government is committed to protecting them. The enemy will try to fill the TV screens with violence. But the ultimate result will be this: Terrorists and extremists in Iraq will know they have no place in a free and democratic society.”

The reality, alas, is less stark. The fighting in Basra, which has spread to parts of Baghdad, is not a clash between good and evil or between a legitimate government and an outlaw insurgency. Rather, as Anthony Cordesman, military analyst for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, writes, it is “a power struggle” between rival “Shiite party mafias” for control of the oil-rich south and other Shiite sections of the country.

The current fighting in Basra is a struggle for power and resources between those warlords. It’s hard to say which faction is more alluring or less likely to fall under Iranian sway. Neither seems the sort of ally in freedom and democracy that our president conjures in his daydreams. (The lively blogger who calls himself Abu Muqawama speculates that Bush officials have embraced ISCI because, unlike Sadr, its leaders speak English.)

It’s not a case of good vs. evil. It’s just another crevice in the widening earthquake called Iraq.

MB4 on March 30, 2008 at 5:00 PM

Amy Proctor on March 30, 2008 at 4:45 PM

Enlightening……. Thank you.

Seven Percent Solution on March 30, 2008 at 5:06 PM

American military and civilian officials were candid in telling me that the governors and other local officials installed by the central government in Basra and elsewhere in southern Iraq had no popular base.

Sounds like Vietnam.

The substance of the nine-point statement, released by Mr. Sadr on Sunday afternoon, was hammered out in elaborate negotiations over the past few days with senior Iraqi officials, some of whom traveled to Iran to meet with Mr. Sadr, according to several officials involved in the negotiations…

Usually not a good sign when it is you who have to travel to see the other guy.

MB4 on March 30, 2008 at 5:07 PM

There were too many ‘buts’ in that NY Times article. Cordesman admits that Basra is a mess, ‘but’, doesn’t think the Iraqi government can fix it.

It is a revealing shortcoming of liberal thinking; they can’t chose, they can’t make a decision. They want ‘someone’ (else) the fix everything except when ‘someone’ (else) makes the attempt, it frightens the liberals even more.

In Iraq, in Basra, someone is going to win, and someone is going to lose, and the liberals just can’t deal with that. When that ‘someone’ wins, and they are allies of the United States, or it is the US that wins with authority, ‘it’s just not fair’.

rockhauler on March 30, 2008 at 5:07 PM

It seems to me that with the Brits gone and the Iraqi army and USAF/Navy air in to clean up the mess, Mookie and the other factions will not be able to establish control. The oil will flow.

Zorro on March 30, 2008 at 5:13 PM

Air power makes messes, Zorro.

The cowards way usually does…

alphie on March 30, 2008 at 5:18 PM

Amy, thanks for your post – and thank your husband for his service and work.

I think there’s a big difference between ‘mocking’ their religious leaders and addressing the very real concerns and dangers posed by Sadr. We can’t shrink from taking appropriate action against terrorists and thugs simply because they wear the mantle of ‘religious leader’ – nor should we counsel others to do so.

I gather your husband would disagree, and he’s certainly more well informed than am I regarding Sadr. From my perspective, however, Sadr’s name has been at the center of far too many stories in the last few years about problems for the Iraqi government and American deaths, if I recall.

There are other terrorists out there who are also ‘religious leaders’ – their status as ‘religious leader’ doesn’t give us pause (well, it shouldn’t) for fear or being thought of as ‘mocking’ them.

They must be dealt with. That Sadr is still alive and wasn’t killed years ago is the reason we’re still having troubles in Basra, isn’t it? ARe we better off today with him alive?

Midas on March 30, 2008 at 5:21 PM

The cowards way usually does…

Not sure what you mean to say alphie. Personally, I love airpower. There is nothing more comforting like the sound of an AC-130U Gunship orbiting above, hosing down the bad guys.

Zorro on March 30, 2008 at 5:25 PM

Our planes might as well be towing banners that say “Maliki is Weak, Sadr is Strong” behind them over Baghdad and Basra, Zorro.

Guess we’ll see who won in October.

alphie on March 30, 2008 at 5:30 PM

To add to the uncertainty, Sadr aide Hazem al-Araji said that, after negotiating with the Iraqi government, an agreement had been reached that militants would not disarm. “Jaish al Mahdi [the Mahdi Army] will not surrender its weapons to the state,” he said, “because they are weapons of national resistance.”

That raises the prospect that, even if the fighting does subside, the government’s offensive will have accomplished little. Militants in Basra will have successfully defied the Iraqi prime minister’s demand that they surrender, and his subsequent demand that they hand over their weapons. Rather than demonstrating the power of the central government and the weakness of Shiite factions, this week’s violence may have demonstrated the opposite.
- Time

MB4 on March 30, 2008 at 5:32 PM

The cowards way usually does

Yes, the US military isn’t as courageous and brave as the Red Army. Right?

Course, anyone who knows anything about modern air power knows that it saves lives – both ours and civilians. Sending in troops to clear neighborhoods leads to much more loss of lives.

But some folks just can’t help smearing the US military. It’s in their DNA.

SteveMG on March 30, 2008 at 5:34 PM

Amy Proctor on March 30, 2008 at 4:45 PM

Interesting stuff. Thanks. I wonder if we can live with Islamic theocracies. Sadr may be an Ayatollah-to-be, and revered by many, but that doesn’t make him someone we can co-exist with. It’s always better to correctly understand what you’re dealing with, and your comment may have helped do that. It doesn’t mean we won’t need to kill him.

JiangxiDad on March 30, 2008 at 5:38 PM

Our planes might as well be towing banners that say “Maliki is Weak, Sadr is Strong” behind them over Baghdad and Basra, Zorro.
Guess we’ll see who won in October.

Do you mean November?

Zorro on March 30, 2008 at 5:39 PM

Woah, pretty sensitive, Steve.

The cowardice was on Maliki’s side, not our troops.

Still, there’s no way will give the Iraqi Air Force jets (they might be a threat to our “allies” in the region).

So, checkmate, I guess.

We’ll only build the Iraqi military strong enough to lose to Sadr.

Iraqi elections are in October, Zorro.

Sadr’s chance to make the Mahdi Army a legit force.

alphie on March 30, 2008 at 5:50 PM

If you aren’t there you lose.

tomas on March 30, 2008 at 5:57 PM

Woah, pretty sensitive, Steve.

The cowardice was on Maliki’s side, not our troops

You know darned well that air power is often used to mitigate the possibility of civilian deaths/harm. This isn’t WWII where we only had dumb/iron bombs to drop on civilians.

Second, it was the US air force and US pilots that carried out the strikes. If it was a cowardly act (as you claim), I assume that they were at least part of this “cowardly” deed? That’s a pretty fair conclusion, no?

Would it have been better to send in ground troops? Just make it a free-fire zone?

Third, you know you have a pretty extensive record at various sites of attacking the US military and the US in general. Using standards that you rarely if ever apply to other armed forces (Red Army anyone?).

You’re certainly welcome to those views. Just as I am welcome to the view that you’re just flat out talking through your hat.

SteveMG on March 30, 2008 at 5:57 PM

Stupid question: Why doesn’t Maliki just get on the tv and tell everybody that if they really want the Americans to leave, stop killing each other? And that there is enough oil revenue in Iraq for them to live like Kuwaitis, but by bombing the electricity and water projects, that no one will ever get services? That it is stupid to continue to destroy their own country?

My nephew just came back from Iraq, and he was in Psy Ops (ie, talking to Baghdad residents to get them to turn in bad guys) and he said the people are are starving for leadership, willing to die for whoever the strongest leader is…why won’t Maliki step up and be that leader?

JustTruth101 on March 30, 2008 at 5:57 PM

The current fighting, which the government portrays as a crackdown on criminality, is better seen as a power grab, an effort by Mr. Maliki and the most powerful Shiite political parties to establish their authority over Basra and the parts of Baghdad that have eluded their grasp…

Okay. Why is it “better” to see this as a power grab? Maliki and the “most powerful Shiite political parties” are the government, right? And having an armed force in your country that is not answerable to the government is usually criminal, right? Doesn’t the government usually hold a monopoly on the use of organized violence? So, this “power grab” is an effort on the part of the legitimate government of Iraq to maintain it’s legitimate right to a monopoly on the use of organized violence.

My recollection is that Cordesman has had a remarkable record for getting things wrong. In this case, however, I’m not sure he is even saying anything.

jl on March 30, 2008 at 6:13 PM

Steve,

I don’t hide the fact that I think it was wrong to invade Iraq.

I don’t hide the fact that I think it’s wrong for America to continue to occupy Iraq.

But I blame our politicians, not individual members of our military.

alphie on March 30, 2008 at 6:16 PM

If Sadr’s militias stand down why should they surrender their weapons? no second amendment in Iraq? They should be left to the wolves whomever may wear the wolves clothing?

I feel much better knowing I have second amendment rights here in the USA and who knows time may be approaching to use them.

Peaceful societies must not eliminate the right of the populace to defend itself against tyranny in whatever form that takes.

dhunter on March 30, 2008 at 6:25 PM

jl on March 30, 2008 at 6:13 PM

Actualy, thats a very good question… and somthing I was trying to put my finger on…

How can the head of the legitimate government be accused of a “Power grab” by doing his job? And using the powers he was given to do so?

Romeo13 on March 30, 2008 at 6:28 PM

dhunter on March 30, 2008 at 6:25 PM

Yes, because its so legal for us to have RPGs? And full auto machine guns? and major amounts of explosives?

Romeo13 on March 30, 2008 at 6:30 PM

alphie on March 30, 2008 at 5:18 PM

You cannot win a war without air power and leaders with stones to use the power.

Johan Klaus on March 30, 2008 at 6:31 PM

alphie on March 30, 2008 at 5:18 PM

Who are you calling a coward?

Johan Klaus on March 30, 2008 at 6:33 PM

Sadr is in Ayatolla school in Iran. If your going to eventually run a mainly Shia country, you have to be as knowledgeable of Islam as Khamenie in Iran. To be an Ayatolla you have to memorize, in Arabic, every place and date that Mohammed took a dump while parasitising his neighbours in what was to become the Ummah. Long years of memorizing and dribbling at the lips.

He is also preparing to be the Muslim wal mart greeter for the 12th Imam. This is much more important than this degrading American incursion. The Mahdi will sweep the Americans away after islam sucks all the treasure it can from the great Satan first.

BL@KBIRD on March 30, 2008 at 6:44 PM

BL@KBIRD on March 30, 2008 at 6:44 PM

Actualy, long term, him being a grand Ayatolla is in IRAN’s best interest.

Once he has the title, he speaks with more authority, and can re enter Iraq once the Democrat President pulls us out of Iraq.

The worst thing he could do right now is give the Iraq sitting government or army a win. He needs to keep the pot boiling until at least until after the US election.

Romeo13 on March 30, 2008 at 6:49 PM

Romeo13 on March 30, 2008 at 6:30 PM

Its’ not so much the weapon as maintaining a balance of power and safety of the citizenry.

AlQueada doesn’t have the weapons you mention and hesitates to use them?

If Sadr’s folks are agressors they need to stop if they are defending themselves?

Maliki evidently made a deal he could live with. Their country not ours.

dhunter on March 30, 2008 at 6:59 PM

“We will never succeed in counterinsurgency operations in religious societies when we openly mock their religious leaders (and by extension, their religion). This may actually be contributing to the American body count; and wreckless American journalists may be fueling the very sincere efforts of some in Iraq to defend their belief in God. ”

Wow Amy,this provides a lot of clarity to the situation and once again shows that the media is doing a terrible job in reporting on the War on Terror.

Remember the Newsweek Gitmo fiasco “Soldiers flushing the Koran down the toilet”bogus story that resulted in riots and the deaths of many people.Unbelievable what the drive by media gets away with.

The press are so obsessed with cutting and pasting news stories together to fit their ideology that they are incapable of un-biased factual reporting anymore.

It is a good thing we have people like your Master Sargent
husband and Petraeus leading the way in this fight against the jihadist instead of the idiots like alphie, who show their ignorance of the challenges ahead and how to deal with them with every single post.

“The Sadrists will likely view their survival as victory.”

Sadr has demanded that Maliki and the Iraqi troops leave
Basra. If the troops stay and maintain a stabilizing force
against the militias,will that not constitute a reason for
the Iraqi government to claim success even if the Mahdi army keep their weapons?

Afghanistan,Pakistan,Iraq,Iran,Saudi Arabia… many Muslim
countries have different tribes or sects that may not like
each other,but are kept in line with a strong central government or military.
They don’t come out victorious against each other(except for propaganda purposes),they usually come out in stalemates
that each side finds a way to live with until there is either regime change or a war that changes the power structure.
This is a new government in Iraq and there will be many
power struggles.The sooner we can get their Army and police
force up to strength, the sooner they will be able to handle
these struggles themselves.The constant cries of surrender from some of the very leaders that sent our Soldiers to fight this war is not helping achieve this.

This is why the “cut and run” policy that mainly democrats
are yelling for will not end the war in Iraq,it will escalate it.

Baxter Greene on March 30, 2008 at 7:02 PM

My recollection is that Cordesman has had a remarkable record for getting things wrong. In this case, however, I’m not sure he is even saying anything.

jl on March 30, 2008 at 6:13 PM

The Iraqi question is so complicated, only three men have ever understood it. One was Saddam Hussein, who is dead. The second was a State Department official who became mad. I am the third and I have forgotten all about it.
- Lord Palmerston (updated)

MB4 on March 30, 2008 at 7:15 PM

Sadr’s chance to make the Mahdi Army a legit force.

alphie on March 30, 2008 at 5:50 PM

So, who are you supporting?

Zorro on March 30, 2008 at 7:17 PM

If Sadr knows he is going to win the upcoming provincial elections anyway, there is no need for him to fight now. He can tell his people to play nice and just bide his time until the elections.

Also, there is some indication that secular parties are going to do MUCH better than those aligned along religions sectarian lines.

crosspatch on March 30, 2008 at 7:30 PM

Air power makes messes, Zorro.

The cowards way usually does…

alphie on March 30, 2008 at 5:18 PM

Say, could you give us your opinion on the Clinton/Wesley Clark way of doing things in Bosnia and Kosovo?

a capella on March 30, 2008 at 7:31 PM

Ace calls me the Eeyore of the right-wing blogosphere, so let me stay true to form

Be that as it may, Cordesman is a first class, self-promoting douchebag. You may have some tidbit where he “tells the left something they didn’t want to hear”, but he has made his MSM career by making up stupid shit about Bush. Fuck Cordesman.

Ed had this story right the first time.

Jaibones on March 30, 2008 at 7:48 PM

This is a good breakdown on the Sadr/Maliki showdown.

Sadr orders followers to end fighting
By Bill RoggioMarch 30, 2008 11:27 AM
http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/03/sadr_orders_follower.php

“Sadr’s call for an end to fighting by his followers comes as his Mahdi Army has taken high casualties over the past six days. Since the fighting began on Tuesday 358 Mahdi Army fighters were killed, 531 were wounded, 343 were captured, and 30 surrendered. The US and Iraqi security forces have killed 125 Mahdi Army fighters in Baghdad alone, while Iraqi security forces have killed 140 Mahdi fighters in Basra.”

I will be interested to see if any of these numbers make any headlines or get much air time from the olberman/couric
crowd.

Baxter Greene on March 30, 2008 at 7:58 PM

Say, could you give us your opinion on the Clinton/Wesley Clark way of doing things in Bosnia and Kosovo?
a capella on March 30, 2008 at 7:31 PM

Wasn’t that where the rotund chickenhawk from West Palm Beach called President Clinton a damn political coward because he had instructed the Air Force to bomb Milosevic and his military baby rapers from above 15 thousand feet?

President Clinton knew Milo’s ground fired missiles weren’t accurate above that altitude!

In fact, as I recall Milo only managed to shoot down one stealth bomber in our whole gosh darn very successful air campaign against those fascist murdering bastards?

Am I wrong?

J_Gocht on March 30, 2008 at 8:03 PM

LOL dude, you are truly living up to the Eeyore thing here.

The current fighting, which the government portrays as a crackdown on criminality, is better seen as a power grab, an effort by Mr. Maliki and the most powerful Shiite political parties to establish their authority over Basra and the parts of Baghdad that have eluded their grasp…

A smidgen of truth in a load of bullshit here. Sadr’s people have been crapping all over Basra and most people want something done about it. Sure, there’s politics involved here, but it’s not what Cordesman’s saying.

Look, like them or not, SCII won the msot votes in the election. The Kurds don’t like Sadr either. The Sunnis despise him. Politically, he has few friends. That makes it easier to move against him. That’s the political angle here.

A Basra free of the Mahdi Army is really only a Basra owned by militias from SCIRI, Fadhila, and Dawa.

Yeah, but they’ll work for the elected gov’t. That makes them Jacksonian Democrats. And anyways, if you don’t think America has the same problems with representative tribalism you must be colorblind; ours is just less violent.

Dawa and the Islamic Supreme Council were likely to be routed because they were seen as having failed to bring development and government services…

I call 100% total bullshit here. Go back and look at the Shia numbers for Dawa’s Maliki; he’s around 60%. The only group that doesn’t like him is the Sunnis and they don’t live in Dasra. Look at the “who do you blame for violence” questions; the militias (i.e. Sadr) are viewed as the biggest problem; now they’re the people’s hope to “deliver services?” They turned the Ministry of Health into a complete fucking joke. It cannot be seriously asserted that anyone believes Sadr’s people are the ones who can do this.

I don’t buy this unless I see some seriously contradictory polls.

Exit quotation: “The Sadrists will likely view their survival as victory.”

LMAO OK, sure. That’s not just lowering the bar, that’s fucking burying it.

TallDave on March 30, 2008 at 8:24 PM

certainly no way to know how that pounding’s going to shake out in terms of voting for the provincial elections. Maybe it makes the Sadrists less intimidating, or maybe it makes them more sympathetic.

Actually, there is.

Remember, most of this fighting is between the Iraqi Army and Sadr. In that last D3 poll, only four percent of Iraqis approve of attacks on the Iraqi Army. In that same poll, the militias get the most blame for Iraq’s problems.

I guess it’s possible this breaks Sadr’s way, but it seems very unlikely — and the fact he just essentially ordered his people to surrender tends to argue he didn’t like how the sentiment was moving either.

I remember the spike in Sadr’s popularity in 2004, when he was fighting U.S. forces. But approval for attacks on “the occupiers” has always been much higher; this is a whole different game.

TallDave on March 30, 2008 at 8:30 PM

The fact that Iraqi officials sought Sadr out in Iran isn’t the best sign:

Actually, that inforamtion was probably a deliberate, subtle attack that may not even be true. It’s Maliki’s way of digging at Sadr for being Iran’s catspaw, something that Shia Iraqis dislike, Kurds get angry about, and Sunni Iraqis go fucking apeshit over.

TallDave on March 30, 2008 at 8:35 PM

Am I wrong?

J_Gocht on March 30, 2008 at 8:03 PM

Hey, one man’s coward is another man’s brilliant tactician.

Air power makes messes, Zorro.

The cowards way usually does…

alphie on March 30, 2008 at 5:18 PM

a capella on March 30, 2008 at 8:36 PM

Am I wrong?

J_Gocht on March 30, 2008 at 8:03 PM

Not just wrong, but stupid, and a liar to boot. Trifecta!

Jaibones on March 30, 2008 at 10:46 PM

I am not advocating that Moqtada al Sadr is a saint. He is a formidable actor on the stage of Middle East politics and security activities – whether we like it or not.

So then, how do we negotiate the dance with him? Kill him? Are you mad? Making him a martyr and galvanizing his cause is foolish and strategically counter-productive. Our best opportunity is in supporting Shiite groups that are amenable to partnership with the US – such as Hakim’s (and by association, al Sistani’s) Supreme Islamic Council in Iraq. Hakim has met on multiple occasions with President Bush.

Those who dismiss Shiite theological trends and dynamics will only end up antagonizing Shiites and firming their resolve. We must engage the clerics, obtain their religious objectives, operationalize the objectives that we we can, and integrate them into Iraqi political life via non-violent means.

Until you understand Sadr’s ‘street cred’ you are part of the problem. His militia is disintegrating, but an exterior religious antagonism (such as that perceived as coming from the US) may serve to galvanize the movement and substantiate it’s activities. Religious intelligence matters.

- Master Sergeant John Proctor

Amy Proctor on March 30, 2008 at 11:03 PM

If it were me I’d put a bullet in Sadrs head and to hell with Shite sensitivities. As a matter of fact I’d have every cleric in Islam take one to the temple. And every mosque and holy place would be leveled and the night sky would be lit by the glow of burning religious texts.

But that’s just me, I’m lazy and I like short cuts to victory.

Please, at least don’t invest faith and pride in anything Muslim, Iraqi or Afghani.

BL@KBIRD on March 31, 2008 at 12:27 AM

Well, if we kill everyone who follows Sadr, then there won’t be anyone left to fight when we finally kill him. But then again, if there’s nobody following him, we won’t have to … until he gets himself some new followers.

njcommuter on March 31, 2008 at 2:12 AM

“Those who dismiss Shiite theological trends and dynamics will only end up antagonizing Shiites and firming their resolve. We must engage the clerics, obtain their religious objectives, operationalize the objectives that we we can, and integrate them into Iraqi political life via non-violent means.”

Stop it.
Unless I am mistaken, SADR got where he is by murdering his opposition cleric. Which line of historical thinking do you espouse to. The same stream which says the Sunis would never ally with the Shia to fight a common enemy?

davod on March 31, 2008 at 3:17 AM

Iraqi politics:
Enemy joins enemy to fight common enemy who is a friend to one of the enemy’s and who upon the demise of the common enemy will once again become their enemy.

leanright on March 31, 2008 at 6:41 AM

The Iraqis do not have air power, so the US and the Brits both backed them up. There is nothing new here, we have used air power along with ground assaults for years. alphie just does not understand the military, hates it too much to study. He prefers gassing villages and mass graves full of children. Yeah, that Saddam had guts. You betcha alphie, you little traitor.

Terrye on March 31, 2008 at 7:16 AM

leanright:

That is not just Iraq, it happens all over the place. How else did we end up on the same side as Joe Stalin?

If people tried as hard to have some faith in a remotely positive outcome in Iraq, as they do to trash that country and its people and any hope of victory we might get somewhere.

Terrye on March 31, 2008 at 7:17 AM

Since the fighting began on Tuesday 358 Mahdi Army fighters were killed, 531 were wounded, 343 were captured, and 30 surrendered. The US and Iraqi security forces have killed 125 Mahdi Army fighters in Baghdad alone, while Iraqi security forces have killed 140 Mahdi fighters in Basra.

Just gettin’ started! We have a lot more snipers in country this time than we did back in ’04 during Operation Kick Moooookie’s Azz and it’s a target rich environment! Good hunting gentlemen.

Tony737 on March 31, 2008 at 7:26 AM

Not just wrong, but stupid, and a liar to boot. Trifecta!
Jaibones on March 30, 2008 at 10:46 PM

OK, stupid perhaps? Wrong, sometimes…yes; but where did I lie? Jaibones!

J_Gocht on March 31, 2008 at 7:34 AM

Actually, that inforamtion was probably a deliberate, subtle attack that may not even be true. It’s Maliki’s way of digging at Sadr for being Iran’s catspaw, something that Shia Iraqis dislike, Kurds get angry about, and Sunni Iraqis go fucking apeshit over.
TallDave on March 30, 2008 at 8:35 PM

TallDave, your verbal descriptions of the operational situation is much appreciated. Actual reports from boots on the ground usually contain the most accurate and objective Intel.

You might consider adding a brief glossary of acronyms’ for all those 2, 3 and 4 letter jobbies. Been a while since I served and some of the jargon has changed.

Drive on! HOOaaAH!

J_Gocht on March 31, 2008 at 7:55 AM

Terrye on March 31, 2008 at 7:17 AM
It was one man’s,(Stalin’s), paranoia that led to the break of relations, 50 years of cold war and millions of deaths. That’s the power of one man!
Now when dealing with Iraq, you have an entire nation of people with no loyalty to their own country or anything else. There is little wonder where this is going to lead to if we don’t take much firmer action quickly. We must finish our business with Sadr and his Mahdi army.
I grew up in the doom and gloom of the cold war. It’s gone now, and I don’t want my children and grandchild living like that because our leadership today,(Bush), hasn’t the courage to do what must be done in the mid east to prevent it.
Like the “Stalin’s” in the mid east, Obama must must be dealt with, and never be allowed to be in control. He is an American hating Judas!

leanright on March 31, 2008 at 8:24 AM

Like the “Stalin’s” in the mid east, Obama must must be dealt with, and never be allowed to be in control. He is an American hating Judas!
leanright on March 31, 2008 at 8:24 AM

Jeeessss leanright, I thought you said you wouldn’t be”so crabby” when you got back from that steak dinner you ate out last Saturday?

Was it tough or over done?
You could have sent it back?

J_Gocht on March 31, 2008 at 8:56 AM

Bl@ckbird, MSG Proctor wrote:

Kill him? Are you mad? Making him a martyr and galvanizing his cause is foolish and strategically counter-productive. Our best opportunity is in supporting Shiite groups that are amenable to partnership with the US – such as Hakim’s (and by association, al Sistani’s) Supreme Islamic Council in Iraq. Hakim has met on multiple occasions with President Bush.

I don’t know what your position is on the war, whether you support OIF or not or what you think of GEN Petraues, but why do you think, as MSG Proctor pointed out, Petraeus refers to Sadr as “Sayid Moqtada al Sadr” (an honorific title acknowledging his descent from the Prophet Mohammed’s family)?

If your tactic for dealing with Muslims and/or Sadr were implemented, which thank God it never will be, there’d be no hope whatsoever of Iraq becoming anything more than a Palestinian state and more soldiers would undoubtedly die. It’s times like this I’m glad people like Petraeus and my husband and not people who hold your inhumane, ignorant view points serve our country.

Amy Proctor on March 31, 2008 at 9:04 AM

The backdrop to Sadr’s dramatic statement was a secret trip Friday by Iraqi lawmakers to Qom, Iran’s holy city and headquarters for the Iranian clergy who run the country.
There the Iraqi lawmakers held talks with Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Qods (Jerusalem) brigades of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and signed an agreement with Sadr, which formed the basis of his statement Sunday, members of parliament said. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/iraq/story/32055.html

So who’s calling the shots in Iraq…Qassem Suleimani and al-Sadr?

Are you out there,TallDave?

J_Gocht on March 31, 2008 at 9:19 AM

J_Gocht on March 31, 2008 at 8:56 AM
Not being crabby, just telling it like it is. I hate that son of a b!tch.
I wouldn’t piss on his head if his hair was on fire.

leanright on March 31, 2008 at 11:04 AM

@Amy Proctor

My position on the war is that it is being fought incorrectly by good people who do not know what they are dealing with.

Your allusion to Gen. Petreaus respectfully referring to Mookie as a descendant of Mohammed would tend to only make me increase the caliber of the gun I’d put to his head.

Your are of the school that insists there are “good” Muslims that you can “deal” with and plant the seed of democracy. That is a waste of time , blood and treasure. At best you will have a sloppier Pakistan except you will be propping up democratic Iraq forever with your resources and threats.

I know that a lot of pride is getting in the way of pragmatism. You are placing trust in Islam which is always fatal.

My comments are meant for far beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, they are aimed at all of Islam. Of course my simple approach won’t happen because it is to easy and definitely unPC. I would destroy the ideology not the people, of course you need a pretty heavy boot on the neck of the Muslim world when you do this.

The west does not know the heart of the enemy and assume and assign default motives and methods to the enemy as if they were western. Democracy imposed might work if you excised Islam from the picture first but, as you wish, Islam will be kept safe by kind hearted folks such as yourself and George Bush. and this struggle will carry on forever.

I do not serve your country as I am not a citizen of it. I don’t like seeing errors in relation to Islam being made and it has been a constant litany of errors starting with the lie that Islam is the religion of yada yada yada. America thus far has gotten it’s strategic and tactical plans for dealing with Islam from Saudi Arabia and other Muslim sources and still seek Islams opinion on dealing with Islam. Insanity.

BL@KBIRD on March 31, 2008 at 1:22 PM