Mahdis sign over Sadr City to Maliki, victory celebrations in media pending Update: NYT acknowledges success on front page

posted at 9:57 am on May 12, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Get ready for more celebrations of Moqtada al-Sadr in the American media. Earlier today, he signed over control of Sadr City to the Nouri al-Maliki government in Baghdad, effectively ending his grip on any territory in Iraq. In the document, the Sadrists recognize the elected government as the sole legitimate authority in Sadr City and everywhere else in Iraq:

“We have signed the agreement today,” said Khalid al-Attiyah, the deputy parliamentary speaker from the main Shiite political bloc, United Iraqi Alliance.

Al-Attiyah said the cease-fire went into effect on Sunday and Iraqi forces will be allowed to enter the area as early as Wednesday and “take over the security there.”

The statement said “the government will decide on the number of Iraqi forces to be deployed in Sadr City to achieve security, in order to refrain from asking help from foreign forces,” a reference to the U.S. military.

“Any attack against residential areas, government offices and the Green Zone are prohibited from Sadr City or from another area,” the agreement said.

The cease-fire stipulates that Iraqi forces have the right to “impose the law and to pursue illegal situations.”

The government will allow the Mahdis to retain personal small arms, but anyone with anything heavier will be subject to arrest or attack. Those efforts continued today to clear Sadr City of splinter elements who have not accepted the cease-fire, with several more radicals killed by Iraqi and American forces. The agreement will not keep Maliki from imposing his will on the Baghdad suburb any more than a similar capitulation did in Basra, where Maliki uprooted the Mahdis from control after several years.

American media outlets have been surprisingly quiet about the latest developments. In Basra, they couldn’t wait to proclaim Maliki’s operation a disaster and the battle a Sadr victory. Unfortunately for them, Sadr sued for peace and agreed to dump his own militias in exchange for political crumbs. In Sadr City, where he based his political power, he has done exactly the same, winning only a reprieve for his forces while conceding the entire territory to the central government.

Expect the Basra Narrative to heavily emphasize that Sadr “allowed” forces into Sadr City and the government to re-open its offices in the area, rather than Sadr capitulating the inevitable.

Update: In the Credit Where Credit’s Due Department, the New York Times reports the success in Basra on its front page today:

Three hundred miles south of Baghdad, the oil-saturated city of Basra has been transformed by its own surge, now seven weeks old.

In a rare success, forces loyal to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki have largely quieted the city, to the initial surprise and growing delight of many inhabitants who only a month ago shuddered under deadly clashes between Iraqi troops and Shiite militias.

Just as in Baghdad, Iraqi and Western officials emphasize that the gains here are “fragile,” like the newly planted roadside saplings that fail to conceal mounds of garbage and pools of foul-smelling water in the historic port city’s slums.

Among the many uncertainties are whether the government, criticized for incompetence at the start of the operation, can maintain the high level of troops here. But in interviews across Basra, residents overwhelmingly reported a substantial improvement in their everyday lives.

The report still contains some silliness, such as the postulation that hope for Sadr City got “undercut” by a roadside IED explosion yesterday.  One bomb does not undercut the prospects for success in a military operation, a lesson one hoped the Times learned from its initial reporting on Basra.  Give the Paper of Record some credit, though, for delivering an in-depth look at the success of the earlier Maliki mission, even if it came more than two weeks after the Times of London wrote essentially the same article.


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Hey, “Good news is NO news” with the MSM.

kcd on May 12, 2008 at 10:03 AM

Harry Reid was on Imus in the Morning this Morning I didn’t hear him mention this :)

Dr Evil on May 12, 2008 at 10:03 AM

I’ll bet anything that the MSM will either bury this story or spin it like crazy. The MSM hates positive news stories from Iraq.

SoulGlo on May 12, 2008 at 10:04 AM

Good news for a change, that’s very welcome. Don’t worry the media will figure out a way to turn this into bad news.

Maxx on May 12, 2008 at 10:05 AM

Sadr for the Nobel Peace Prize! Guarantee that is how the MSM will roll this…

Geministorm on May 12, 2008 at 10:05 AM

Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Jack Murtha, great human beings all. I’m sure they’re so pleased at this news.

Obama is left of them. He must be ecstatic.

Syd B. on May 12, 2008 at 10:08 AM

Page A-1 Gas Prices
Page A-2 McCain is old
Page A-3 Brittany Spears went shopping.
Page C-19 Sadr is a team player

Limerick on May 12, 2008 at 10:09 AM

I bet the threat of “Murtha’s Raiders” stationed in Okinawa for rapid deployment in Sadr City tipped Maliki’s hand.

Murtha is just like Patton, except Patton would not have supported Code Pink, and was a whole lot smarter.

Hening on May 12, 2008 at 10:13 AM

Page A-1 Gas Prices
Page A-2 McCain is old
Page A-3 Brittany Spears went shopping.
Page C-19 Sadr is a team player

Limerick on May 12, 2008 at 10:09 AM

Page D-22 Pelosi/House projects 51st timeline

Rovin on May 12, 2008 at 10:23 AM

This is great news. No matter how the MSM plays it, it’s great news. Also, it continues to take the steam out of Obama’s number one claim to fame. He was “against the Iraq war from the start.” Iraq is playing much better now with the American public. Perhaps before the election in November, Obama will admit that we have accomplished much there. Perhaps he will even be in favor of finishing the job. Sort of “I was against the war before I was for it.” I’m still sure that Bush will be remembered historically as a great or near great President because of his handling of the global war on terror. I don’t think he is anywhere near conservative enough, but he has been resolute in his pursuit of this war.

Buford Gooch on May 12, 2008 at 10:24 AM

I liked the start of the second paragraph…..In a rare success…. ( Don’t you just love those SOB’s?)

kcd on May 12, 2008 at 10:25 AM

Page C-19 Sadr is a team player

Ref update:

Ok, fine…NYT comes through…..

A-1 Iraqi gov’t fails to pick up the trash.

Limerick on May 12, 2008 at 10:25 AM

By the way, I’ve been thinking about the spin the MSM puts on these stories, if they report them at all. If Hillary or Obama get in, within a month you’ll see happy, happy, joy, joy stories plastered all over the MSM….all thanks to (insert Dim here______________). If McCain gets in, you’ll here the same’ol, same ol from the MSM until people from all over the world are vacationing regularly in Iraq!

kcd on May 12, 2008 at 10:29 AM

kcd,

I was thinking the same thing. The surge has been a series of successes for over a year now, we’ve killed I don’t know how many terrorist leaders in precision strikes, and yet this is a “rare success”.

JeffC_95 on May 12, 2008 at 10:30 AM

In a rare success,

the New York Slimes gets one sort of right.

GISAP on May 12, 2008 at 10:31 AM

“Three hundred miles south of Baghdad, the oil-saturated city of Basra has been transformed by its own surge, now seven weeks old.

In a rare success, forces loyal to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki have largely quieted the city, to the initial surprise and growing delight of many inhabitants who only a month ago shuddered under deadly clashes between Iraqi troops and Shiite militias.

Just as in Baghdad, Iraqi and Western officials emphasize that the gains here are “fragile,” like the newly planted roadside saplings that fail to conceal mounds of garbage and pools of foul-smelling water in the historic port city’s slums.

Among the many uncertainties are whether the government, criticized for incompetence at the start of the operation, can maintain the high level of troops here. But in interviews across Basra, residents overwhelmingly reported a substantial improvement in their everyday lives.”

SoulGlo on May 12, 2008 at 10:32 AM

The Negotiation Process in the Arab World …….

Maliki: “We’ll let you and your family live if you cooperate”

Mookie: “Otay”

fogw on May 12, 2008 at 10:32 AM

I liked the start of the second paragraph…..In a rare success…. ( Don’t you just love those SOB’s?)

kcd

I thought the same thing, nearly EVERY paragraph was glass half empty rhetoric. That way, every liberal – neigh every person reading it – can say, “Well, it’s going to all fall apart, we need to get out now.”

kirkill on May 12, 2008 at 10:33 AM

Well done SoulGlo!

kirkill on May 12, 2008 at 10:34 AM

Next round of headlines: Gradual signs of success achieved, but at what cost?

moxie_neanderthal on May 12, 2008 at 10:40 AM

You’re joking, right?
This will last exactly as long, and not a moment longer than Iran’s instructions to al-Sadr to back off.

Don’t get me wrong – the surge has been a brilliant stroke, with much success to it’s credit… however the Ayatollahs are not about to relinquish their grip on Iraq’s Shiite population any time soon.

Alalazoo on May 12, 2008 at 10:42 AM

I thought the same thing, nearly EVERY paragraph was glass half empty rhetoric. That way, every liberal – neigh every person reading it – can say, “Well, it’s going to all fall apart, we need to get out now.”

kirkill on May 12, 2008 at 10:33 AM

Actually that’s a good thing. Their credibility is completely falling apart and their naked bias clear for all to see.

Like the global warming hoax, soon Iraq will be proven for the undeniable success it actually is. Imagine, Iraq as a solid ally of the U.S. and coming on strong soon with it’s own oil exports. Yes there will be problems, but this is an historic period in history as regards the ME.

Soon we’ll squash iran’s nuke threats and the world will be much better off for it. Won’t be perfect. Never will be perfect, but undeniably better and safer.

techno_barbarian on May 12, 2008 at 10:42 AM

I should add to my previous comment:

… any more than Hezbollah’s recent withdrawal from Beirut signals their desire to capitulate to the democratically elected government of Lebanon.

Same shit, different country.

Alalazoo on May 12, 2008 at 10:46 AM

historic period in history

Doh! Need more coffee…

Meant to say ‘momentous period in history’

techno_barbarian on May 12, 2008 at 10:46 AM

Called this one when it started weeks ago.

Irregualr troops can hold ground short term as long as they have a steady source of supply… but once that supply is gone, regular troops will chew them up.

They also cannot TAKE ground from regular troops… they don’t have the discipline to carry out sustained attacks needed to do so.

Hez held against the Israelis because they held the ground, and had safe supply and bases further back from the front… and Israel did NOT put forth its full strength. Iran thought that this prooved they had figured out a formula whereby irregulars could be effective… they tried that formula in Iraq.

Didn’t work, and won’t work in Lebanon once the Government there falls, and Leb becomes an Israeli free fire zone to hunt down Hez….

Romeo13 on May 12, 2008 at 10:50 AM

I should add to my previous comment:

… any more than Hezbollah’s recent withdrawal from Beirut signals their desire to capitulate to the democratically elected government of Lebanon.

Same shit, different country.

Alalazoo on May 12, 2008 at 10:46 AM

You absolutely have a valid point, but with Iraq stabilizing and AQ getting their asses kicked and killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the focus is turning on iran. Once iran is dealt with, things will be a lot different and quite a bit better than they are now and have been for a long long time.

There will always be problems, but a lot of Middle Easterners are learning first hand that the ‘Great Satan’ is anything but. It’ll take time, but things are clearly moving in that direction.

As for iran retaining its hold over the Shia in Southern Iraq, I’m not so sure. Seems the people themselves have an awful lot to say about that, and they’re clearly happy that the mahdi thugs have been sent packing.

Appropriate caution noted, but there are signs worthy of optimism here.

techno_barbarian on May 12, 2008 at 10:51 AM

Hez held against the Israelis because they held the ground, and had safe supply and bases further back from the front… and

Respectfully, hez held because Israel was forced to back off rather than finish the job.

But I agree with you on everything else you said.

techno_barbarian on May 12, 2008 at 10:53 AM

I thought the same thing, nearly EVERY paragraph was glass half empty rhetoric.

And we can add to that the “pot meet kettle” metaphor:

Published: May 12, 2008

“At times clearly partisan, at others apparently offering down-the-middle analysis, Mr. Rove in his new role as a media star marks another step in the evolution of mainstream journalism, where opinion, “straight news” reporting and unmistakable spin increasingly mingle, especially on television.”…..By JIM RUTENBERG and JACQUES STEINBERG Link

Rovin on May 12, 2008 at 10:54 AM

Fear not kids, the NYT is on its deathbed. Do a stock chart on the company, the look at the dividend. (its not sustainable) When the div gets cut (and it will) it will be turn out the lights, the party (no pun intended) will be over.

RIP NYT, you used to be good.

swami on May 12, 2008 at 10:58 AM

Just once….I would love for someone to get to the print after it has been proof-read, and change the name to The New York Slimes, just before it hit the news stands! I know….dream on…dream on.

kcd on May 12, 2008 at 11:02 AM

Sadr for the Nobel Peace Prize! Guarantee that is how the MSM will roll this…

Geministorm on May 12, 2008 at 10:05 AM

hahahahahah, funny because it’s true!

funky chicken on May 12, 2008 at 11:03 AM

The NYT publishing good news about Iraq? Hmmm I’m still suspicious.

Did anyone see the Sunday NYT and that fawning Obama article? I think the NYT wants to give the messiah wiggle room when he has to, on the national stage, switch his position on Iraq. “Well we can forgive Barack. We just can’t leave now, Maliki is doing such a good job”

Theworldisnotenough on May 12, 2008 at 11:03 AM

“At times clearly partisan,

Don’t you love it when they call it “partisan”, when they think he’s wrong? To me it’s not partisan. It’s as simple as right & wrong.

kcd on May 12, 2008 at 11:05 AM

Soon we’ll squash iran’s nuke threats and the world will be much better off for it. Won’t be perfect. Never will be perfect, but undeniably better and safer.

techno_barbarian on May 12, 2008 at 10:42 AM

I hope so, but that depends a lot on our general elections.
I hope Bush doesn’t kick that can down the road, gambling on a McCain win.

a capella on May 12, 2008 at 11:08 AM

The NYT, template for the rest of the agenda-driven media, is typicaly behind the news curve. The weasel-words of its praising with faint damns is duly noted, too.

onlineanalyst on May 12, 2008 at 11:08 AM

I posted this at the end of the last Sadr comment thread. TIME’s analysis of the cease fire, Al-Sadr Wins Another Round. This is, of course, laughable. Even more laughable is the Related articles at Time.com section at the bottom of the article.

- Al-Sadr Tightens the Screws
- Has Sadr Got the Upper Hand?
- The Next Front in the Sadr Standoff
- How Moqtada al-Sadr Won in Basra
- Will Maliki Go the Distance?

BohicaTwentyTwo on May 12, 2008 at 11:12 AM

techno_barbarian on May 12, 2008 at 10:53 AM

Key to that battle was the Hez held long enough… they didn’t immediatly fold because they knew that Israel was not going to go north of the Litani River…. too much internatinal pressure, and too much information about intent was leaked from the Israeli government.

Essentialy they held because they knew they had a safe line of retreat… take that away and moral plumets in irregular forces pretty rapidly. There have been historic cases of irregulars fighting to the last man, but that was usualy when they were facing ethnic cleansing types of situations, which Hez was not.

IF Hez forces the government of Leb to fall, the Litani will not longer be a defacto border between Hez and Leb… and the Israelis will feel more free to project force deeper into Leb… and won’t have as much international backlash.

Reason Hez backed down this time is they don’t WANT the government that is sheilding them from the West to fall… and take away that cover.

Romeo13 on May 12, 2008 at 11:13 AM

I hope so, but that depends a lot on our general elections.
I hope Bush doesn’t kick that can down the road, gambling on a McCain win.

a capella on May 12, 2008 at 11:08 AM

You and me both, my friend. The biggest threat to world peace and stability right now is the dem party. If they gain power over all three branches of our government, none of our allies will be able to trust us.

techno_barbarian on May 12, 2008 at 11:20 AM

Great caption, Ed. Top notch!

Jim-Rose on May 12, 2008 at 11:23 AM

Reason Hez backed down this time is they don’t WANT the government that is sheilding them from the West to fall… and take away that cover.

Romeo13 on May 12, 2008 at 11:13 AM

Spot on. Well said.

Israel will have to fight hez in Lebanon again, and I hope they ignore the international call for restraint and utterly destroy hez, and maybe send a more than subtle message to syria as well.

techno_barbarian on May 12, 2008 at 11:24 AM

techno_barbarian on May 12, 2008 at 11:24 AM

Yeah, its kinda funny how much attention I pay to whats happening there…

Guess it has somthing to do with its the first place anyone ever shot at me… kinda gets personal ya know?

LOL…

Romeo13 on May 12, 2008 at 11:34 AM

LOL…

Romeo13 on May 12, 2008 at 11:34 AM

No way to ever forget something like that. Glad you’re still with us.

techno_barbarian on May 12, 2008 at 11:38 AM

I don’t think Senator Harry Reid mentioned anything about this milestone this morning.

http://imus.969fmtalk.mobi/2008/05/12/imus-in-the-morning-guest-sen-harry-reid–51208.aspx

Dr Evil on May 12, 2008 at 11:40 AM

I don’t think Senator Harry Reid mentioned anything about this milestone this morning.

http://imus.969fmtalk.mobi/2008/05/12/imus-in-the-morning-guest-sen-harry-reid–51208.aspx

Dr Evil on May 12, 2008 at 11:40 AM

Harry Reid??!!! What a weak, pansy, liberal weasle he is!!!

kcd on May 12, 2008 at 11:45 AM

I wonder if the media types are shocked at this? (But, but my sources told me the Mooks were winning!)

Or, is it that they knew all along and were hoping that the I.A. would lose? (Drats! Foiled again!)

Tony737 on May 12, 2008 at 11:49 AM

“In a rare success”

What? I think success is more the rule than the exception these days. Darned near the entire country is now under Iraqi Army control. Sure, US casualties might have been up last month as we got aggressive and all up in Sadr’s grill, but civilian casualties were down … by a lot. And that is what matters in this one.

crosspatch on May 12, 2008 at 11:50 AM

The biggest threat to world peace and stability right now is the dem party. If they gain power over all three branches of our government, none of our allies will be able to trust us.

Well writen techno, truer words were never printed

Ltmousseman on May 12, 2008 at 12:29 PM

In a rare success, forces loyal to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki have largely quieted the city

How many cities in Iraq remain under the control of al-Sadr, al-Qaida, or other anti-government forces?

As far as I know, the answer is zero. If so, how can this victory be called “rare”?

daryl_herbert on May 12, 2008 at 12:51 PM

Time Magazine is claiming Sadr won again. Many more of these victories, and there wont be a Sadr left.

lawhawk on May 12, 2008 at 12:57 PM

Alalazoo:

“Don’t get me wrong – the surge has been a brilliant stroke, with much success to it’s credit… however the Ayatollahs are not about to relinquish their grip on Iraq’s Shiite population any time soon.”

While Iran clearly has a grip on al Sadr and his groups, he appears to have attracted more criminals than Shia faithful, and his Iranian connection has become a serious liability, not an asset. If the Ayatollahs are now jerking al Sadr’s chain, it suggests that their grip on Iraqi Shia is, in fact, tenuous and that they desperately need any good PR they can get.

JM Hanes on May 12, 2008 at 1:18 PM

I heard the CNN Radio guy yesterday say that because the Mahdi army didn’t have to surrender all its weapons, the deal “can be seen as a victory for Al Sadr.”

Such tools.

fulldroolcup on May 12, 2008 at 1:49 PM

NYT Nuance – rare success, gains here are “fragile”, mounds of garbage, pools of foul-smelling water, many uncertainties and criticized for incompetence.
Sheese…it’s like making a child put down a lollipop just for supper.

oakpack on May 12, 2008 at 2:28 PM

This is great news. Victory is just around the corner. I don’t know why Obamawan Barakobi wants to keep American troops in Iraq for 16 months after he would become President. Juan McSurgo should be on him like white on rice and announce that if he becomes President he will declare this obvious victory and bring the troops home in 8 months.

MB4 on May 12, 2008 at 3:16 PM