I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
Well Newshoggers has closed it's doors so Middle Earth Journal is active once again.

Showing posts with label al-Sadr. Show all posts
Showing posts with label al-Sadr. Show all posts

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bring em on!

I have spent the last several years trying figure out if the Bush/Cheney administration and the neocons are stupid and delusional, just plain crazy or if there is some bizarre method to their madness. I'm beginning to think it must be all of the above. They are constantly ranting about Iran but they have and continue to do all of Iran's dirty work in Iraq. They toppled Iran's arch enemy, Saddam, they put the most pro-Iranian elements in Iraq in power and they continue to defend those elements with US blood and treasure. The latest example is this:
Iraqi Army Takes Last Basra Areas From Sadr Force
But of course they didn't do it alone.
BAGHDAD — Iraqi soldiers took control of the last bastions of the cleric Moktada al-Sadr’s militia in Basra on Saturday, and Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad strongly endorsed the Iraqi government’s monthlong military operation against the fighters.

By Saturday evening, Basra was calm, but only after air and artillery strikes by American and British forces cleared the way for Iraqi troops to move into the Hayaniya district and other remaining Mahdi Army militia strongholds and begin house-to house searches, Iraqi officials said. Iraqi troops were meeting little resistance, said Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, the spokesman for the Iraqi Interior Ministry in Baghdad.
While the administration talks about about Iran's support for al-Sadr the Iranians are laughing. They like al-Maliki's government just fine since it is supported and controlled by the pro-Iranian ISCI and Da'wa party. The Iraqi security forces are primarily members of the Badr Brigade - a creation of the Iranians.

While that is stupid it is not nearly as stupid as this:
Secretary of State Rice Mocks Muslim Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as a Coward
BAGHDAD — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice mocked anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as a coward on Sunday, hours after the radical leader threatened to declare war unless U.S. and Iraqi forces end a military crackdown on his followers.
Now the American and British air strikes may have driven the Mehdi army underground but only to fight another day. The always stupid and incompetent Rice has just poured gasoline on embers which will flare up even sooner resulting in the deaths of both Iraqis and Americans. This administration is criminally stupid and incompetent.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Clueless, Dangerous Idiots

The Bush/Cheney administration and the neocons are truly clueless - dangerous - idiots.
Iran Top Threat To Iraq, U.S. Says
Last week's violence in Basra and Baghdad has convinced the Bush administration that actions by Iran, and not al-Qaeda, are the primary threat inside Iraq, and has sparked a broad reassessment of policy in the region, according to senior U.S. officials.

Evidence of an increase in Iranian weapons, training and direction for the Shiite militias that battled U.S. and Iraqi security forces in those two cities has fixed new U.S. attention on what Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates yesterday called Tehran's "malign" influence, the officials said.

The intensified focus on Iran coincides with diminished emphasis on al-Qaeda in Iraq as the leading justification for an ongoing U.S. military presence in Iraq.
Yes, they are still looking for an excuse to attack Iran. And if they do? It would appear they are oblivious to the fact that the ISCI and Da'wa party are even closer to Iran than al-Sadr. The ISCI's Badr brigade has infiltrated the Iraqi security forces and they will not stand by if the US should attack Iran. With the ISCI and the Da'wa party in charge of the government Iran is already calling most of the shots. Iran, unlike the US, realizes al-Sadr is popular and powerful so they give him token support. But they would much prefer to have the ISCI and the Da'wa party running the show in Iraq.

If the US thinks that al-Sadr is a problem just wait until the US bombs Iran. That's when all hell will break lose.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

And about that surging ceasefire

Now I'm still waiting to hear what John McCain has to say about this but it would appear the Badr-Mehdi ceasefire may have been short lived.
No peace in Basra despite Sadr call
HOPES for a ceasefire in Iraq's developing Shia civil war were swiftly undermined yesterday when the Government said it would not stop attacking outlaw militia members, despite an offer from militia leaders to freeze the conflict.

Fierce fighting went on in areas of Basra loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, despite the rebel cleric's call to his militiamen to put down their weapons.

Sadr's statement was hammered out in elaborate negotiations over the past few days with senior Iraqi officials, some of whom travelled to Iran to meet the Shia cleric, according to several officials involved in the discussions.

In Baghdad, mortars continued to slam into the Green Zone government compound.

British troops stationed at Basra airport were deployed outside their base at the weekend for the first time, backing up Iraqi forces on the edge of the city.
While Maliki calls his crackdown a success al-Sadr is not impressed and indicates he is ready to continue fighting.
BAGHDAD -- Prime Minister Nouri Maliki described his crackdown on Shiite militias in southern Iraq as a success Tuesday, even as Britain said the situation had turned too volatile to pull more of its troops from the region as planned.

Representatives of Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr, who on Sunday ordered his Mahdi Army militia to stop fighting, accused Iraqi forces of violating the cease-fire with new raids Tuesday in Basra and Hillah and warned that such actions could ignite further bloodshed. Iraqi security forces denied the allegations, the latest indication of the ongoing animosity between Sadr and the Iraqi government and the tenuous state of the truce.
So what will the US do? What will the Iranians do? The really odd thing is they are both betting on the same horse in this race, the ISCI and the Badr brigade. The Bush administration doesn't like al-Sadr because he is anti American occupation and if he should gain legitimate power in October he will demand the occupation end. The Iranians don't like al-Sadr because he is above all an Iraqi nationalist and Iran's interests are not a priority with him.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Now we know!

McClatchy gives us a good run down of the events in the hours before al-Sadr's cease fire offer.
Sadr rebuffs Iraq government envoy as offensive sputters
BAGHDAD - After failing to break the resistance of Shiite militias in the five-day siege of oil rich Basra, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki sent a top general to hold talks with his Shiite rival, Muqtada al Sadr, Saturday night only to be rebuffed by the firebrand cleric, an Iraqi official close to the negotiations said.

Maliki denounced Shia militants in Basra as the equivalent of Al Qaida, and Sadr told his supporters not to hand over their arms to a puppet state of the United States.

The diplomatic initiative and the harsh rebuff further eroded expectations for a successful outcome to the offensive, which Maliki is personally directing from the presidential palace in the southern port city. It was not the only sign of problems.

Maliki issued orders Friday to enlist volunteers for the battle against the Shiite militias, and his Dawa party sought to enlist fighters. The U.S. military raised its profile in Basra still further, providing protection for installations including the palace where Maliki is housed, Iraqi Interior Ministry officials said.

There were more U.S. air strikes in the Sadrist stronghold of Sadr City, and local officials said U.S. forces joined Iraqi security forces in clashes against Sadrists lasting hours south of Hilla, which lies south of Baghdad. Meanwhile, Sadr's Mahdi Army militia went door to door in Sadr City with a list of those employed by government security services, demanding that they not report to their jobs, local residents said.

The circumstances in which the negotiations with Sadr took place suggested the government is no longer able to dictate the terms of an agreement with Sadr but now must seek a deal. General Hussein al Assadi, a Baghdad-based commander, traveled to Najaf to call on the head of Sadr's political bureau there, Lewaa Smaisam. From his office, the two men telephoned Sadr, who is believed to be in Iran, where he is studying religion. But they could not reach agreement, an official close to the negotiations said. He would not give his name due to the sensitivity of the subject.
Of course shortly after this al-Sadr offered his conditions for a cease fire which had to be very unpalatable to al-Malaki but which he accepted. So what does this tell us? It tells us who is calling the shots in Iraq and it's not the Bush administration or General Petraeus - it's the Mullahs in Tehran. It was Tehran who told al-Sadr to make the offer and Tehran who told al-Malaki to accept. The US may have 150,000 troops on the ground but it's Tehran that is running the show. The war is over and the winner is Iran.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Iraq - what now?

David Ignatius has a decent analysis of the situation in Iraq. Things have improved but.....
But what accounts for these welcome changes? That's where we need to be careful. This isn't an American victory over a well-defined adversary; it's not that kind of war. And Iraqis aren't showering their American liberators with flowers now any more than they were in April 2003. A more complicated set of factors is at work, and it's worth examining two of them carefully.
The first of these factors is that al-Qaeda in Iraq is being defeated but Ignatius notes correctly that they defeated themselves and they know it.
Even Osama bin Laden understands that al-Qaeda has stumbled badly in Iraq. In an Oct. 22 audiotape that attracted too little notice at the time, bin Laden scolded his followers for tactics that alienated Iraqis. "Mistakes have been made during holy wars," he said. "Some of you have been lax in one duty, which is to unite your ranks."

Bin Laden's self-criticism was "possibly the most important message" in al-Qaeda's history, wrote Abdel Bari Atwan, an Arab journalist who has interviewed bin Laden and written an insightful biography. "It is the first time that bin Laden recognizes the error committed by the members of his organization and in particular the excesses committed in Iraq."
And then there is Iran.
Second, the recent security gains reflect the fact that Iran is standing down, for the moment. The Iranian-backed Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr has sharply curtailed its operations. The shelling of the Green Zone by Iranian-backed militias in Sadr City has stopped. The flow of deadly roadside bombs from Iran appears to have slowed or stopped. And to make it official, the Iranians announced Tuesday that they will resume security discussions in Baghdad with U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

I suspect the Iranians' new policy of accommodation is a tactical shift. They still want to exert leverage over a future Iraq, but they have concluded that the best way to do so is to work with U.S. forces -- and speed our eventual exit -- rather than continue a policy of confrontation. A genuine U.S.-Iranian understanding about stabilizing Iraq would be a very important development. But we should see it for what it is: The Iranians will contain their proxy forces in Iraq because it's in their interest to do so.
So what does this mean in terms of the ultimate goal of the Bush/Cheney administration and the neocons - a permanent occupation and control over Iraq's oil resources? Here the picture is not so rosy. While violence is down the majority still see the US forces as occupiers and as the enemy. The Iraqi government has made it clear that they want no part of the so called "oil sharing bill" which in effect turns over the control and the profit of Iraq's resources to western oil companies. The majority of Iraqis, both Shiite and Sunni see the United States as an enemy. The most important paragraph in Igantius' commentary is this:
As a caution against over-enthusiasm about the surge, it's useful to consider what happens in a "draw play" in football. Defensive linemen go charging toward the quarterback, congratulating themselves on evading the blockers, when suddenly the opposing running back races past, and they realize, "Oops! We've been suckered." A Syrian analyst draws a similar picture of what's happening now in Iraq. He notes that former insurgents are regrouping and forming alliances among Sunni and Shiite militias that oppose the United States. "This will be known as the era of deception," warns my Syrian friend.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Good news or......

We have this from Iraq:
Shi'ite leaders seal pact to curb violence
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's two most powerful Shi'ite leaders have signed their first written agreement, pledging to prevent bloodshed by working together to avoid confrontation, Iraqi officials said on Saturday.

Supporters of fiery cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim's Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) are locked in a violent struggle for control of the towns and cities in Iraq's predominantly Shi'ite south.

Political analysts fear the struggle for dominance in the southern regions, where U.S. forces have little or no presence, will intensify ahead provincial elections expected next year.

"Sayyed Abdul Aziz al-Hakim and Sayyed Moqtada al-Sadr have agreed on the necessity of preserving and respecting Iraqi blood under any condition," said the agreement signed by Hakim and Sadr and seen by Reuters on Saturday.
Now this is certainly good news for the people of Iraq and a win for Iran. But what about George Bush's war? Captain Ed thinks it's a positive step for the US effort. i suspect it may turn out to be just the opposite. If the two Shi'ite factions are not fighting each other they will have more time to fight the US and the Sunni. That will be critically important if the lunatics in charge actually do attack Iran. The largely Shi'ite security forces the US has armed and trained will turn on the US troops. Our friend Cernig points us to this story that's not getting too much press in the US.
Iraq official says "big fat no" to attack on Iran
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraq's national security adviser said on Friday he strongly opposed any military attack on Iran and, in contrast to the Bush administration's policy, said the option should not even be considered.

"Attacking Iran? I say a big fat no. It's a fatal mistake," Mowaffak al-Rubaie said. "It should never be an option at all."


Rubaie said any attack on Iran would set the whole Middle East ablaze and Iraq would suffer most.

"It is not a strategy. It's a mistake of Chernobyl magnitude," he said, referring to the 1986 nuclear disaster in the former Soviet Union.

"The whole area will be in flames, and Iraq will be the battlefield for all this, and we will pay heavily," Rubaie said at an event in Washington hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

"What we need from the United States government is to engage seriously with Iran," he said.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Under the table reconciliation?

A lot of news on the Iraq front today and I was just wondering if they are related. It would appear that the Iraqi parliament is still planning to take it's two month summer vacation and won't be bullied by the Lord of Darkness. And as I reported below an Iraqi bill demands U.S. troops withdraw. Now are these two related? If you really want the US to leave what better way to make it happen than to take that vacation? There is speculation that the bill passed because of a deal between supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and the Sunnis. Sounds like reconciliation to me. But that's not all. This is giving the wingers an orgasm but perhaps it's premature ejaculation.
Tribal leaders in Diyala announce alliance against al-Qaeda.
The reaction from the wingers at Strata-Sphere was this:
The Democrat’s and al Qaeda’s worst nightmares apparently are taking shape in Iraq’s Diyala’s Province. The model of success seen in what was the insurgent/al Qaeda stronghold of Anbar Province is now taking shape in Diyala as the Arab/Muslim street is rising up - against al Qaeda!
I would suggest this may be part of the wingers worst nightmare. Is this just part of the Iraqis to take their country back? Not just from al-Qaeda but from the Americans and yes, the Iranians.

So the Iraqi parliament will take their 2 month vacation and they are perfectly aware that this will dry up support for the occupation in the US but it looks like they may be planning for a post occupation Iraq without the US.

Via Cernig the New York Times thinks Mr. Bush is Alone. Of course that's an amazing grasp of the obvious moment but this jumped right out at me:
The really important question now facing Washington is the one Mr. Bush still refuses to address: how, while there is still some time left, to design an exit strategy that contains the chaos in Iraq and minimizes the damage to United States interests when American troops inevitably leave.
As I suggested above the Iraqis are taking care of that themselves - all we have to do is leave.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A wink and a nod - "pixie dust" edition

Does anyone really take this seriously?

Al-Maliki gives Mahdi Army blunt choice: disarm or face American onslaught
BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraq's prime minister has told Mahdi Army militiamen they must surrender their arms or face an all-out assault by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces, senior Iraqi officials said Wednesday, revealing a pledge Washington wanted to hear as American and Iraqi troops prepared a fresh operation to end the bloody sectarian war gripping Baghdad.

The blunt message was particularly significant given that Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi leader, previously had blocked several U.S. attempts to crack down on the military wing of radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, now one of the most powerful players in Iraq.
Now Al-Maliki knows he has no power to stop or disarm the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr. He also knows full well that his own security forces won't do it and that a few thousand additional troops won't make it possible for the US to defeat the 60,000+ Mahdi Army. This was for US domestic consumption only with a "wink and a nod" to al-Sadr. Yes the "pixie dust" is flying.