Sadr’s army dissolving?

posted at 8:00 am on June 27, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

According to the Middle East Times, Moqtada al-Sadr’s militia has begun to disintegrate after a series of confrontations with the Iraqi Army throughout the south of Iraq.  The remnants of the Mahdi Army have gone underground, forming an armed network on a much smaller scale.  How small?  Think of the Spartans at Thermopylae, and cut that in half while removing the courage and the military skill:

The Mehdi Army of Moqtada Sadr is evolving into a clandestine movement following Iraqi military operations targeting the group, intelligence suggests.

The military wing of the Sadrist Movement, the political party loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, is “turning itself into a secret armed organization,” an Iraqi intelligence official told the Gulf News on condition of anonymity.

Iraqi intelligence reports suggest the group’s numbers have dwindled from around 50,000 to as few as 150 in the past few years.

Intelligence officials credit decisions by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to launch military offensives against Shiite militants in the southern parts of the country as deterring the group. An Iraqi intelligence official reports as many as 2,000 Mehdi Army fighters were killed in recent operations in Basra, Sadr City and the provincial capital of Maysan, Amarah.

Where did the rest of the Mahdis go?  According to the intel official, a number of them followed Sadr into Iran, fleeing the IA when it came to Basra and Amarah.  Maliki broke their back, and Sadr’s continuing issuance of empty threats wasn’t enough to keep the force together.

One could see this end result right from the beginning of the surge — actually, before it, when the surge first got announced.  Sadr immediately fled to Iran and stayed there, turning the militia into another of Tehran’s proxies.  The US kept them out of the way by avoiding engagements with the Mahdis and focusing on al-Qaeda in the West, but Maliki began isolating Sadr politically by building alliances with Sunnis, Kurds, and rival Shi’ites.  Sadr got painted as a stooge of the Persians, and rightfully so.  And when Maliki finally had a strong enough army, he took the lead against Sadr rather than the US, which finally gave Maliki a political edge against Sadr.

This became obvious over the last few weeks, when Sadr couldn’t get more than 1500 people to participate in a Sadr City protest over the Maliki actions in the south.  It was a showing of Sadr’s weakness, and the flop showed how much ground Sadr had lost among his own constituency.  He strongly suggested that he would declare war against the American forces and end the cease-fire, but he no longer has the forces to do that — and even the Mahdis remember the previous two beatings they took when Sadr dared to actively confront the US in Iraq.

Sadr has survived before, but this time he has lost the one asset that kept him politically alive.   He may well wind up a forgotten toady in the court of the Iranian mullahcracy, and that’s if he’s lucky.


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Comments

Game. Set. Match?

rightside on June 27, 2008 at 8:18 AM

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Mookie has been the MSM’s “anti-American firebrand cleric” darling for all these years. Who will they look to now as the face of resistance in Iraq?

Kafir on June 27, 2008 at 8:24 AM

Paging Barack Obama and that famous Judgment You Can Trust:

The goal of the surge was to create space for Iraq’s political leaders to reach an agreement to end Iraq’s civil war. At great cost, our troops have helped reduce violence in some areas of Iraq, but even those reductions do not get us below the unsustainable levels of violence of mid-2006. Moreover, Iraq’s political leaders have made no progress in resolving the political differences at the heart of their civil war.

•In 2005, he called for a phased withdrawal of our troops;
•In 2006, he called for a timetable to remove our troops, a political solution within Iraq, and aggressive diplomacy with all of Iraq’s neighbors;
•In January 2007, he introduced legislation in the Senate to remove all of our combat troops from Iraq by March 2008.

Buy Danish on June 27, 2008 at 8:26 AM

Why wasn’t this fat greasy pig killed four years ago?

revolution on June 27, 2008 at 8:27 AM

My money’s on Mookie never returning to Iraq. Unless, of course, Obama wins in November.

flipflop on June 27, 2008 at 8:27 AM

That should free up some time for that much needed trip to the dentist.

awake on June 27, 2008 at 8:43 AM

How small? Think of the Spartans at Thermopylae, and cut that in half while removing the courage and the military skill

Heh. Sweet.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on June 27, 2008 at 8:45 AM

Much of the progress regarding this can be attributed to actions from the Iraqis themselves. Good for them.

Yakko77 on June 27, 2008 at 8:56 AM

Think about it: the Iraqi armed forces ceased to exist in 2003, and now they are a competent and confident force pushing around Iran’s big bad proxy. Add a couple Apaches and F16′s when necessary, and they are downright formidable.

Says a lot for the training they’re getting from our guys on the ground. Hats off!

Akzed on June 27, 2008 at 9:11 AM

Another al-Sadr masterstroke, even better than when he craftily surrendered Basra in order to place a strain on the IA in forcing them to occupy it.

This one is brilliant. How can such a master tactician possibly lose?

Pablo on June 27, 2008 at 9:15 AM

Why wasn’t this fat greasy pig killed four years ago?

Muqtada al-Sadr’s father, brothers, and grandfather were genuine heroes who worked against Saddam to benefit the poor Shi’ia. That notion was ratified when the Hussein Ba’ath had them assassinated.

The Mooreonic Convergence publicly held that the Ba’ath “insurgents”, who had been killing and torturing Shi’ia for years, were Heroic Freedom Fighters defending Iraq against invaders. That convinced the Shi’ia that there was nobody on their side, and the blowup over Abu Ghraib, where embarrassing the Sunni Ba’athist torturers was depicted as unspeakably vile and their own lost relatives, friends, and limbs were held as not worth mentioning, confirmed it. For a while there Muqtada al-Sadr was literally the only voice defending poor Shi’ia, and his heritage made that credible. Killing him would have established that Americans == Sunni Ba’ath. Moore and company were happy to make that identification. Our military was not.

Fortunately for us, Mullah Atari is a fool. Arabs don’t like Persians, even when they share a religion, and JAM will now turn into something like an Iraqi SDS — not a good thing, but one with no strong influence.

Regards,
Ric

warlocketx on June 27, 2008 at 9:26 AM

Why wasn’t this fat greasy pig killed four years ago?

I don’t know, but Lady Luck has smiled upon us. Having him fizzle out (i.e. prove himself to be a coward and an Iranian stooge) before the Iraqis’ very eyes has proven much more valuable than killing him ever would have been.

Kafir on June 27, 2008 at 9:49 AM

Sadr couldn’t get more than 1500 people to participate in a Sadr City protest over the Maliki actions in the south.

Another “million man march.”

whitetop on June 27, 2008 at 10:10 AM

… the Mahdis remember the previous two beatings they took when Sadr dared to actively confront the US in Iraq.

And now they’ve been beaten again, this time by the I.A. giving the Mooks a score of 0-3.

Tony737 on June 27, 2008 at 10:23 AM

Think of the Spartans at Thermopylae, and cut that in half while removing the courage and the military skill:

good one 8)

I personally loved it every time “mookie” declared he was going to end/suspend/abrogate/whatever one of his cease-fires because I knew it meant he was going to lose a bunch more of his forces…loser

urbancenturion on June 27, 2008 at 10:39 AM

According to the intel official, a number of them followed Sadr into Iran, fleeing the IA when it came to Basra and Amarah.

Yes. I wish I could go into detail, but…yes.

One thing I can share, a lot of the alleged “50,000″ would be young punks who just liked hangin’ and bangin’. ANY show of force at all, and they would drop their weapons and bolt. Particularly in Dhi Qar…

major john on June 27, 2008 at 10:47 AM

Yes. I wish I could go into detail, but…yes. Major

Ah, you tease us! We wish you could go into detail too!

Tony737 on June 27, 2008 at 11:27 AM

revolution on June 27, 2008 at 8:27 AM
——

Dead morons like Mookie make good martyrs.
Live failed morons like Mookie make great object lessons.

Mew

acat on June 27, 2008 at 11:34 AM

Recent events should point up the emergence of the IA as a formidable fighting force. Not surprising, given their trainers. It’s heartening to contrast them now, and in 2003–then, they were nothing more than a bunch of guys with weapons.

The future looks good, with them as an ally of ours, has to have Iran peeing themselves at that prospect.

irongrampa on June 27, 2008 at 1:17 PM

Time for Pelosi to make another trip to visit one of our enemies and give him a hug, he needs one right now.

Harry Reid: “The war is lost.”

ThePrez on June 27, 2008 at 3:04 PM

Damn, I forgot when the U.S. or Israel starts dropping bombs on Iran, all this good news is out the window.

ThePrez on June 27, 2008 at 3:06 PM