Big push coming in Sadr City

posted at 8:15 am on May 8, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Iraqi soldiers have begun evacuating families from portions of Sadr City, a sign that a large offensive will start shortly against the Mahdi Army militia that have long controlled the sector of Baghdad. Two stadiums have been secured for sheltering the evacuees as the government of Nouri al-Maliki attempts to break Moqtada al-Sadr’s last stronghold and end mortar attacks on the Green Zone. Maliki also wants to end Iran’s influence in Iraq, which caused Iran to cut off security talks with Maliki and the US:

Iraqi soldiers for the first time warned residents in the embattled Sadr City district to leave their houses Thursday, signaling a new push by the U.S.-backed forces against Shiite extremist who have been waging street battles for seven weeks.

Iraqi soldiers, using loudspeakers, told residents in some virtually abandoned areas of southeastern Sadr City to go to nearby soccer stadiums, residents said. UNICEF says about 6,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in Sadr City, most of them from the southeastern section.

U.S. forces have increased air power and armored patrols in an attempt to cripple Shiite militia influence in Sadr City, a slum of 2.5 million people that serves as the Baghdad base for the Mahdi Army led by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

The U.S. military is trying to weaken the militia’s grip in the slum and disrupt rocket and mortar strikes from Sadr City on the U.S.-protected Green Zone, which includes the U.S. Embassy and key Iraqi government offices.

Maliki needs an end to Sadr’s militia if he expects to retain his cross-sectarian political coalition, especially in Baghdad. Basra was an important step in establishing sovereignty, but the capital is the ultimate goal. No government can truly claim sovereignty when hostile armed forces control parts of its own capital, and especially when those forces conduct regular attacks on other parts of the city.

Since Sadr refused to disband the militia, Maliki has little choice but to root it out and destroy it. The US and Iraqi forces have already started doing that by building barriers to keep the Mahdis locked into known positions, with some skirmishes already taking place in Sadr City. Now that they have the battleground defined, the next step will be the military action that will end the Mahdi Army as an organization and establish lawful control over the last of the rebel ground Sadr controls.

This will likely take weeks to complete. Once the battle starts, expect to read and hear plenty of media reports emphasizing civilian deaths, setbacks in the battle, defections in the Iraqi Army, and statements of defiance from Sadr. What we won’t hear is progress by Maliki and the US in finishing off Sadr’s forces until it suddenly becomes impossible to ignore it — and then we will hear about how inept the Iraqi forces were in achieving victory.

Call it the Basra Narrative. Just because it failed in Basra doesn’t mean the defeatist media won’t use it again, and again, and again.

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God speed.

SilverStar830 on May 8, 2008 at 8:19 AM

NYT and others already have their “headlines” and “stories” printed.
They don’t need facts…

right2bright on May 8, 2008 at 8:26 AM

If by October-November Iraq is fully pacified and producing plenty of oil, that should help restore George W. Bush’s reputation and help our economy, which we hope will be fully rebounded by then.

Someone, ideally John McCain, should hold the MSM’s feet to the fire and force them to acknowledge the good news.

President Bush should also announce that the Iraqis will pay us a 5% royalty on every barrel of oil they sell, until the cost of the expedition, beginning in March of 2003, is completely paid off. Then let’s see the Dems kvetch about that.

MrLynn on May 8, 2008 at 8:27 AM

I wish they would just tell women and children
to evacuate Sadr City,bring in B-1,B-2′s,AC-130
Spooky gunships and flatten the place and be done
with it!

B-52′s would be nice as well,however the Lib media
would equate the BUFF with carpet bombing and they
would collecting have orgasms over it!

canopfor on May 8, 2008 at 8:28 AM

Go get ‘em, boys. Hopefully, this will be one of, if not the, last stronghold we’ll have to deal with. And then imagine what we might see!

JamesLee on May 8, 2008 at 8:29 AM

the “Basra Narrative” could be a larger metaphor for the Leftists in general, they keep re-packaging failed ideologies and trying again and again.

bbz123 on May 8, 2008 at 8:34 AM

Thanks for the ‘Tip’! ;-)

Things must be going great in Basra since I don’t hear much about it now. Sounds like the Iraqi Forces and Maliki are doing a good job, and doing it rather quickly – i.e. its only been about 6-weeks since ISF had moved against the “illegal Shia militias and criminal elements in the city of Basra.”

Seaberry on May 8, 2008 at 8:35 AM

I really have come to loathe most of the MSM.

p0s3r on May 8, 2008 at 8:50 AM

It is probably too much to ask but will Sadr finally stand with his militia or is he still in Iran ordering everyone else to die for his cause?

Dawnsblood on May 8, 2008 at 9:01 AM

While I support the idea of cleaning out Sadr City it is chilling to think of the type of fighting it will take. Crossing my fingers and hoping all the bad guys have bent cartridges.

Limerick on May 8, 2008 at 9:12 AM

“Iraqi soldiers … told residents … to go to nearby soccer stadiums …”

I hope Mookie doesn’t bomb the stadiums.

Go I.A.’s! Kick Mookie’s azz and let this be the end of it!

Tony737 on May 8, 2008 at 9:13 AM

Oooops! /em !

Tony737 on May 8, 2008 at 9:14 AM

The US and Iraqi forces have already started doing that by building barriers to keep the Mahdis locked into known positions, with some skirmishes already taking place in Sadr City. Now that they have the battleground defined, the next step will be the military action that will end the Mahdi Army as an organization and establish lawful control over the last of the rebel ground Sadr controls.

Ed, I think you will find JAM outside the walled off area. The walled off area is an attempt to keep rockets and mortars from going into the green zone. Once this area is cleared, there is still much more work to do to get rid of JAM in Sadr City and the rest of Baghdad. This is really only the beginning of a much longer struggle.

bnelson44 on May 8, 2008 at 9:36 AM

No doubt, there will be some serious fighting is such an offensive, however, I would be surprised if the Mahdi army can sustain resistance for long. The extremist militia in Sadr City has been on the run from various previous strongholds and have been retreating from superior firepower for months. They are a beaten group and whatever fighting spirit they have left will, I think and hope, disipate quickly under what I suspect will be massive weaponry. The Politicos understand that if this victory can be achieved with minimal friendly loss, it will be major leverage going forward. Initially, anyway, I believe US airpower will do the talking.

God Bless those that do this for us.

Syd B. on May 8, 2008 at 9:40 AM

You can bet General Petraeus and Maliki will have all their ducks in a row when this battle begins. Sadr and his militias may very well just lay down their weapons and surrender if they figure out soon enough it’s a losing cause to a superior force.

The spin from the left-wing media will be interesting to see in the days ahead.

Rovin on May 8, 2008 at 9:47 AM

SPOT ON template of the MSM reporting.

jukin on May 8, 2008 at 9:49 AM

God Bless those that do this for us.

Especially since, according to the noted military authority Stephen King, few of them can even read. By coincidence I find I can no longer read King’s books.

drunyan8315 on May 8, 2008 at 9:54 AM

Looks like they are going to do it this time. Otherwise, hello Lebanon.

tarpon on May 8, 2008 at 9:57 AM

God bless our boys and keep them safe. But this needs to be done. It’s time.

Jaibones on May 8, 2008 at 9:58 AM

Ol’ Baghdad Bob really didn’t serve a purpose did he? There was no need to Saddam to have a propagandist when the MSM would go ahead and print anything that portrayed the US in a negative light anyway. He was like Tom Smykowski from Office Space.

BohicaTwentyTwo on May 8, 2008 at 10:05 AM

At LONG last? Oh, goody! As the gunner in “Full Metal Jacket” says repeatedly:

GET some!!

tree hugging sister on May 8, 2008 at 10:07 AM

This won’t take as long as you think. Three weeks ago Sadr City was walled in by engineers erecting wall sections. The JAM jerks are trapped inside with no way out.

The MNF (our guys) will be going house by house, floor by floor, room by room, looking for terrorist criminals and their supplies.

Mookie is all done.

dogsoldier on May 8, 2008 at 10:12 AM

“From orbit nuke it you should…”

pseudonominus on May 8, 2008 at 10:15 AM

I think it would be appropriate and valuable if Keith Olberman and Chris Matthews tag teamed to make the trip over. Imagine the excitement they could create for both MSNBC viewers at the chance to see some real news reporting. If we’re lucky, the cameras might catch them soiling their panties. Good old Chris would feel a different tingle up his leg. As for Olby, well, I see the potential for a tragic friendly fire accident.

Syd B. on May 8, 2008 at 10:23 AM

Mookie is all done.
–dogsoldier on May 8, 2008 at 10:12 AM

So, the question is, who gets dibs on his hat?

Kerry?

franksalterego on May 8, 2008 at 10:23 AM

XXX throwdown!!! Go get ‘em.

LtE126 on May 8, 2008 at 10:45 AM

Fallujah V3.0. Let’s roll.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on May 8, 2008 at 10:47 AM

Holy s–t. Sadr city is as big as Chicago. Amazing. We should have the military come here and clean out the Vice Lords, Latin Kings and the like. They’d have a rougher time.

LtE126 on May 8, 2008 at 10:48 AM

They’d have a rougher time.

And that’s just with the lawsuits…

tree hugging sister on May 8, 2008 at 10:51 AM

God bless our troops, our allies and their troops, the Iraqi people and their army.

indythinker on May 8, 2008 at 10:57 AM

“And that’s just with the lawsuits…

tree hugging sister on May 8, 2008 at 10:51 AM”

Wink.

LtE126 on May 8, 2008 at 10:59 AM

resident Bush should also announce that the Iraqis will pay us a 5% royalty on every barrel of oil they sell


Nope. We are not a conquering army. We are there to take care of our own national security interests. We didn’t go in trying to get spoils of war. We’re the good guys. As our mission gains in success, the fear factor will come out of the oil price.

This mission also functions like a gigantic warning shot against the Iranian regime.

indythinker on May 8, 2008 at 11:04 AM

God speed soldiers. God be with you and keep you safe.
Kill ‘em all.

Geronimo on May 8, 2008 at 11:08 AM

This mission also functions like a gigantic warning shot against the Iranian regime.

indythinker on May 8, 2008 at 11:04 AM

…and if that doesn’t work, Israel will be delivering a warning shot with a cloud.

Syd B. on May 8, 2008 at 11:18 AM

This is three years overdue, at least. This thug Sadr has been asking for an ass-kicking, and we ought to give it to him good and hard.

Tally-ho, gentlemen, and Godspeed.

Jeffersonian on May 8, 2008 at 11:56 AM

Daisy cut or what is it now?…MOAB their asses.

LtE126 on May 8, 2008 at 12:06 PM

Iraq war architects shrug off truth

So there I was, listening to a few of the major “architects” of the war in Iraq — Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas J. Feith, Peter Rodman and Dan Senor. They had assembled at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., for a discussion of Feith’s new book, “War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism,” but what they were drawn to discuss was what went wrong with the war in Iraq.

The classic clueless moment, however, came later in answer to a question from the floor: Did the administration ever tell Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia to bar combatants from crossing their borders into Iraq — or else? And if not (“not” is clearly the answer since these borders have been Grand Central Station for jihadists), why not? Wolfowitz owned up that the United States had said something or other at some point, but, overall, the consensus on the dais came down to a big, shrugging non-answer.

I got one of those answers myself, at least from Feith. I asked: What did these gentlemen think the United States would ultimately get out of Iraq in exchange for our massive investment of blood and treasure? And had they learned anything to make them doubt the president’s often-repeated promise that Iraq would become an “ally” in the “war on terror”? Shrug. Not interested in answering.

In other words, to these men, there would seem to be nothing new worth pondering — like, for instance, the havoc Islamic ways wreak on Western-style nation-building.

Shrug.
- Diana West

MB4 on May 8, 2008 at 1:31 PM

What we won’t hear is progress by Maliki and the US in finishing off Sadr’s forces

How will Maliki and the U.S., it would be mostly the U.S. of course, finish of Sadr’s forces? They are not implanted with GPS tracking devices, nor do they all have “666″ tattooed on their foreheads and would just “go to ground” well before anything like that could happen.

MB4 on May 8, 2008 at 1:40 PM

If you’re looking for an update from Basrah, I’m here.

It’s been relatively calm the past few weeks…until today. We got hammered in the middle of the afternoon with 15 rockets fired from out outskirts of Basrah which is about 12 miles from our camp. Several landed in camp and there were fatalities.

We were told that there was a huge fight in Basrah yesterday and the militia got their butts kicked pretty bad. There were several cashes of weapons/rockets discovered and the huge news is that they determined that some of the rockets were built in 2007. Not sure ‘where’ they were built but I would guess that some expert can determine that pretty quick. Everyone’s guess is Iran but that hasn’t been verified.

JetBlast on May 8, 2008 at 2:02 PM

The Mahdi Army militia must and will be destroyed as an effective military force, period. Maliki knows this and will make it happen.

moxie_neanderthal on May 8, 2008 at 2:25 PM

Dare I say it? Iraqi and US Forces consolidate Iraqi Govt control over Basra city and province; Iraqi and US Forces destroy Al Qaeda in their last stronghold, Mosul; Iraqi and US Forces destroy the Al Sadr Iranian proxy militia in their remaining stronghold, Sadr City area of Baghdad … and the War in Iraq is essentially won.
.
(The mourners will include: Al Qaeda and all it’s Arab Islamist supporters; the Iranian Mullah dictatorship and it’s flunkie Mookie Sadr; our “friends” in the Saudi royal family and govt; the Syrian dictatorship … and last and certainly not least, all the anti-American hard left of the Western nations, and most of the leadership of the Democratic Party.)

DavePa on May 8, 2008 at 6:35 PM

If you’re looking for an update from Basrah, I’m here.

It’s been relatively calm the past few weeks…until today. We got hammered in the middle of the afternoon with 15 rockets fired from out outskirts of Basrah which is about 12 miles from our camp. Several landed in camp and there were fatalities.

Thanks for the update, but…. Don’t you have OpSec concerns about what you are posting?

sanantonian on May 8, 2008 at 9:14 PM

As for Olby, well, I see the potential for a tragic friendly fire accident.

Syd B. on May 8, 2008 at 10:23 AM

Uh, no offense but it’s only friendly fire if it’s one of our team that gets shot.

platypus on May 8, 2008 at 11:49 PM

MB4 questions how we nail the bad guys since they are relatively anonymous in appearance.

The same way we are kicking AQI ass in Anbar Province – the decent people are telling us who the bad guys are. Then we go and test our weapons on the bad guys.

Our guys are so superior to any other life forms that it is impossible to imagine failure. Just sit back and watch the show, which is a luxury that their sacrifices provide to us.

platypus on May 8, 2008 at 11:59 PM

Once the battle starts, expect to read and hear plenty of media reports emphasizing civilian deaths, setbacks in the battle, defections in the Iraqi Army, and statements of defiance from Sadr. What we won’t hear is progress by Maliki and the US in finishing off Sadr’s forces until it suddenly becomes impossible to ignore it — and then we will hear about how inept the Iraqi forces were in achieving victory.

Media reports? Heck, you have commenters here that will do that.

Thanks for the update, but…. Don’t you have OpSec concerns about what you are posting?

Jet – that is getting close to the line, I think. I am here too. Did MNF-I announce these yet? If so, then no worries. I am going to follow up on this on my own blog, when everything comes out. I can relate that I saw some personal courage exhibited by two Iraqi general officers (!)

major john on May 9, 2008 at 12:26 AM

Sanatonian,

I’m not military so anything I know is common knowledge around here. I have no access to any classified info although I will be more careful in the future. Thanks for the heads-up.

JetBlast on May 9, 2008 at 1:36 AM