Iranian Quds Force leader helped broker truce with Sadr

posted at 12:19 pm on March 31, 2008 by Allahpundit

If there was any doubt that he’s Iran’s fair-haired boy — and there shouldn’t be, since he’s been holed up there for the better part of a year and admits that he has “formal links” with Hezbollah — this ought to dispatch with it:

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…

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.

Ali al Adeeb, a member of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s Dawa party, and Hadi al Ameri, the head of the Badr Organization, the military wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, had two aims, lawmakers said: to ask Sadr to stand down his militia and to ask Iranian officials to stop supplying weapons to Shiite militants in Iraq…

The Qom discussions may or may not bring an end to the fighting but they almost certainly have undermined Maliki – who made repeated declarations that there would be no negotiations and that he would treat as outlaws those who did not turn in their weapons for cash. The blow to his own credibility was worsened by the fact that members of his own party had helped organize the Iran initiative…

Maliki — who had said he would not leave Basra until the Shiite militias were defeated — was expected to remain in Basra for a few more days, he said.

How close was the Iraqi Army to crushing the JAM in the city? It’s unclear. A source tells CNN that the Iranians “pressured” Sadr into the agreement, which, combined with the fact that the delegation sought him out and not vice versa, adds a dollop of nuance to the image of him crawling to Maliki to beg him to stop the assault. “Everything we heard indicates the Sadrists had control of more ground in Basra at the end of the fighting than they did at the beginning,” said a Sunni politician who helped mediate with the Mahdi Army in Baghdad to USA Today. McClatchy concedes that while the Iraqi Army did capture one neighborhood in eastern Basra, they couldn’t make headway in the hives of Hayaniyah or al Qibla. But then there’s this:

Sources in Basra tell TIME that there has been a large-scale retreat of the Mahdi Army in the oil-rich Iraqi port city because of low morale and because ammunition is low due to the closure of the Iranian border. TIME has not yet been able to confirm those reports with U.S., Mahi Army or Iraqi government authorities.

They’ve presumably melted back into the population now, weapons intact and ready for use. What’s Maliki’s next move? One of his spokesmen told CNN that operations should be over by the end of the week, suggesting he’s ready to walk away and leave the status quo as is, but then reversed himself and said they’ll go on for as long as needed. We’ll see. In the meantime, two questions. One: Why’d Iran tell Sadr to back off? I wondered a few days ago if they weren’t stirring the pot now to complicate Petraeus’s testimony in front of Congress, but if that were true they’d want to keep up the fighting for as long as they can. My guess is that the answer lies in that Time quote: Their ratlines into Iraq had been closed off and they were worried about not being able to resupply the militias, especially with the U.S. and Brits about to be dragged into the fighting. So they did the prudent thing — a truce, a la Hezbollah and Israel two years ago, which makes it tough for Maliki to ignore without incurring public wrath and promises a return to normalcy so that they can start shipping in weapons again.

And two: Did Maliki’s government sell him out? I can’t find any evidence that he asked the delegation to meet with Sadr (although a spokesman did welcome the agreement yesterday) so this may be a case of his own allies panicking and going behind his back, leaving him in an impossible position. If he presses on, he’s a tyrant who’s picking on poor, peaceful Muqtada Sadr. If he doesn’t press on, he loses face. Since no Iraq post is complete without a half-assed cloak-and-dagger theory, consider the possibility that SCIRI pressed him into going after Sadr with precisely this possibility in mind. The likely successor to Maliki is Iraqi VP Adel Abdul Mahdi; guess which party he belongs to. In other words, even a failure in Basra is potentially a SCIRI success. Er, unless of course the grassroots Shia flock to Sadr in outrage and give him a huge victory in the provincial elections. Which is what makes a half-assed cloak-and-dagger theory half-assed, my friends.

To atone, enjoy this video taken somewhere in Iraq but probably fairly representative of what Basra’s been like the past week.


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Hey handsome? Only a mother could love that face. I thought a baby mole rat was ugly, but this face out does the ugly thing.
L

letget on March 31, 2008 at 12:27 PM

Iraqi Shi’as have much to gain in fighting and winning against Maliki.

Iran, on the other hand, prefers to hold it’s cards close to chest – perhaps to wait until close to US elections to enact “surprise” full scale military revolt+Hizballah style bombings that will kill many US troops and McCain’s chances of winning.

My guess is Bassrah Shi’a were pressuring Sadr to go on with the offensive now, Iran pressures him to lay low.

Aristotle on March 31, 2008 at 12:28 PM

Just another day in the mideast. Two steps forward and one back, the only question is how many steps need to be taken.

Bishop on March 31, 2008 at 12:33 PM

I think Iran is playing the long game. Iran has reached the conclusion that Grand Ayatollah Sistani is not their boy. This could be because of differing religous opinions or just because Grand Ayatollah outranks regular Ayatollah. If they ever want to have control over Iraq, they are going to need a high ranking Ayatollah to take Sistani’s place. They’re sending Mookie back to school so he can get some more religous credibility. The problem is that Sadr doesn’t have a tight grip on his fighters, and they get antsy every now and again.

BohicaTwentyTwo on March 31, 2008 at 12:34 PM

Why’d Iran tell Sadr to back off? I wondered a few days ago if they weren’t stirring the pot now to complicate Petraeus’s testimony in front of Congress, but if that were true they’d want to keep up the fighting for as long as they can. My guess is that the answer lies in that Time quote: Their ratlines into Iraq had been closed off and they were worried about not being able to resupply the militias, especially with the U.S. and Brits about to be dragged into the fighting. So they did the prudent thing — a truce, a la Hezbollah and Israel two years ago, which makes it tough for Maliki to ignore without incurring public wrath and promises a return to normalcy so that they can start shipping in weapons again.

Yep. This is the problem with letting Maliki decide military matters vis a vis Sadr. Remember back last October when Maliki made us take down our roadblocks around Sadr City? He’s either too weak to do us any good, or he’s actually on the other side and just putting on a front in Basra.

funky chicken on March 31, 2008 at 12:35 PM

There will be no victory in Iraq without defeating Iran. Sad, but true.

Bugler on March 31, 2008 at 12:38 PM

Remember these columns?

The first thing we need to do is to kill Muqtada al-Sadr, who’s now a greater threat to our strategic goals than Osama bin Laden.
We should’ve killed him in 2003, when he first embarked upon his murder campaign. But our leaders were afraid of provoking riots.
Back then, the tumult might’ve lasted a week. Now we’ll face a serious uprising. So be it. When you put off paying war’s price, you pay compound interest in blood.
We must kill – not capture – Muqtada, then kill every gunman who comes out in the streets to avenge him.
Our policy of all-carrots-no-sticks has failed miserably. We delivered Iraq to zealots, gangsters and terrorists. Now our only hope is to prove that we mean business – that the era of peace, love and wasting American lives is over.
And after we’ve killed Muqtada and destroyed his Mahdi Army, we need to go after the Sunni insurgents. If we can’t leave a democracy behind, we should at least leave the corpses of our enemies.
The holier-than-thou response to this proposal is predictable: “We can’t kill our way out of this situation!” Well, boo-hoo. Friendly persuasion and billions of dollars haven’t done the job. Give therapeutic violence a chance.
Our soldiers and Marines are dying to protect a government whose members are scrambling to ally themselves with sectarian militias and insurgent factions. President Bush needs to face reality. The Maliki government is a failure.
There’s still a chance, if a slight one, that we can achieve a few of our goals in Iraq – if we let our troops make war, not love. But if our own leaders are unwilling to fight, it’s time to leave and let Iraqis fight each other.
Our president owes Iraq’s treacherous prime minister nothing. Get tough, or get out.

http://www.nypost.com/seven/10262006/postopinion/opedcolumnists/kill_muqtada_now_opedcolumnists_ralph_peters.htm?page=2

By Ralph Peters

On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki obeyed Muqtada al-Sadr’s command to withdraw U.S. troops from Baghdad’s Sadr City. He halted a vital U.S. military operation. It was the third time in less than a month that al-Maliki had sided with the anti-American cleric against our forces.

Then, last month, as Iraq’s prime minister seconded al-Sadr’s demand that our troops free a death-squad mastermind they had captured, I knew a fateful page had turned. A week later, al-Maliki forbade additional U.S. military raids in Sadr City, the radical mullah’s Baghdad stronghold. On Tuesday, al-Maliki insisted that our troops remove roadblocks set up to help find a kidnapped U.S. soldier. Iraq’s prime minister has made his choice. We’re not it. It’s time to face reality. Only Iraqis can save Iraq now — and they appear intent on destroying it. Après nous, le deluge.

http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2006/11/post_6.html

funky chicken on March 31, 2008 at 12:43 PM

There will be no victory in Iraq without defeating Iran. Sad, but true.

Bugler on March 31, 2008 at 12:38 PM

I’ve been thinking lately that we should’ve taken on a two front war with Saddam and Iran…granted we didn’t have the military forces to do it after Clinton slashed it in half and international support to go along with it. But you can make a case for War with Iran in a number of areas starting with their taking our hostages and embassy to their State sponsorship of Terrorism.

jp on March 31, 2008 at 12:48 PM

Iran has two options for taking a lot more control in the areas…

First, if Sadr group does well in the Iraqi elections, they won’t need to fight it out with the government. Just as having a block in Parliament has stopped any prior move from disarming the “militias”, having a Grand Ayatollah with both a private army, and seats in Parliament, will create a whole new dynamic…

Secondus… If they listen to Western media, the election is in the tank for the Dems, and with BOTH Dems talking about withdrawl, they could take a major player out of the region now by NOT fighting. We can’t withdraw if we’re in the middle of a battle… but if things are fairly peaceful? We’re outa there…

Put these two dynamics together, and you have a time when its in Iran’s best interest NOT to have Sadr’s boys in a fight…

As to the “agreement”… how many of our Senators and such go out and “talk” to international players? I think Al Mal got back doored… and handed a done deal…

Romeo13 on March 31, 2008 at 12:51 PM

Maliki cuts and runs?

Finally, something Democrats put their arms around. Now they can’t say not enough has been done by the Iraqi government, since the Iraqi government has mimicked a long-standing Democrat principle deemed necessary for success.

It’s known as the Reid/Pelosi Docrine, or better stated, Turn Tail and Run.

fogw on March 31, 2008 at 12:56 PM

Maybe Mukki Muk will suffer an major infection as a result of his dental issues. I know, wishful thinking and it takes time.

MNDavenotPC on March 31, 2008 at 12:57 PM

AP, with that awesome video, you are forgiven.

CliffHanger on March 31, 2008 at 12:58 PM

Wow, awesome video. It looks like they have plenty of ammo. At 1:23 it looks like anti aircraft fire, Does anyone know if that is what it is and if so is that enemy fire?

Dollayo on March 31, 2008 at 12:58 PM

I still think that picture of Mookie looks like Hell’s version of Dom DeLouise.

flipflop on March 31, 2008 at 1:00 PM

…a [Maliki] spokesman did welcome the agreement yesterday) so this may be a case of his own allies panicking and going behind his back, leaving him in an impossible position.

Maybe. Or this may be another example of the Middle-Eastern diplomatic style. Pound your fist to please your ally while your emissary does what you won’t or can’t. With or without overt direction hardly matters where “Allah’s will be done” finalizes everything, and survival does not necessarily necessitate independence.

If Musharrif can’t make it happen in Pakistan, how the heck does anyone expect Maliki to make anything work in Iraq?

maverick muse on March 31, 2008 at 1:07 PM

Damn he’s ugly. Can you imagine the smell? Ughh, nevermind.

Geronimo on March 31, 2008 at 1:08 PM

due to the closure of the Iranian border

About f’ing time.

So what have we learned so far:
1) The new Iraqi Army still has a ways to go. Take this as a learning experience.
2) It still isn’t clear just how much control Sadr has over his thugs “army”
3) Iran is a big player, but can be thwarted by closing the border. Probably a few stray bombs that accidentally fall on the other side of the border would help too.
4) Sadr needs to contract a fatal illness. Soon.

rbj on March 31, 2008 at 1:58 PM

Of course, there is this.

Kafir on March 31, 2008 at 1:58 PM

To paraphrase a certain WW2-era song, praise the lord and pass the night vision goggles.

(Man, I almost typed “googles” :)

Bigfoot on March 31, 2008 at 2:05 PM

Hey, handsome!

Heh, reminds me of the scene from Young Frankenstein when Gene Wilder goes into the cell with the monster, only the monster (Peter Boyle, RIP) IS much more handsome than Muki “my face looks like a festering bucket of pus” Sadr.

a truce, a la Hezbollah and Israel two years ago, which makes it tough for Maliki to ignore without incurring public wrath and promises a return to normalcy so that they can start shipping in weapons again.

This is par for the course when dealing with ANY government or entity in the Middle East and for the life of me I don’t know when we will learn the lesson that they cannot be trust any further then we could throw them! Tora-Bora comes to mind, they say lets negotiate out one side of their mouths while out the other they are re-grouping, re-arming, or allowing the big fish (like Osama) to slip out the back door.

Here’s an idea, how about we not negotiate with these liars ever again and instead pound them until they no longer have the will or the means to wage war against us and they unconditionally surrender to us!

Liberty or Death on March 31, 2008 at 3:50 PM

Iran gains nothing with Sadr getting wiped out. They may as well build him up for later use.

oakpack on March 31, 2008 at 7:44 PM

Absurd. You make fun of how ugly this guy is, but that is because you have to know he is at least twice as smart as Prime Minister Maliki and President Bush put together. This guy has outfoxed both the US and Iraqi forces at least three times. He never surrenders and never apologizes. He goes on the offensive at opportune times, and — although he never wins on the battlefield — he is never wiped out either. He has a knack for knowing when to wave the white flag and — acting like the Keystone Kops they are — President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki have let Sadr off the hook time after time, thereby giving Sadr invaluable psychological victories and the aura of invincibility in the eyes of his followers.

As long as President Bush and Condoleeza Rice are in charge of US policy, the US will continue to be the laughing stock of the Islamo-Communist world. Can you say: “push-overs?”

And, if you say, but at least we are fighting in Iraq. My response: If President Bush understood the concept of the application of overwhelming force, we would no longer be fighting in Iraq and Sadr would be pushing up daisies.

Not, of course, that I expect McCain (or Obama or Hillary) to be any better.

sanantonian on March 31, 2008 at 11:01 PM