The “Cease Fire”


Bill Roggio updates us on the cease fire declared by Sadr. Interesting aspect of the cease fire is that Maliki “appears” to have not accepted it:

While Sadr spokesman said the Iraqi government agreed to Sadr’s terms for the cease-fire, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has said the security forces will continue operations in Basrah in the South. Meanwhile, the Mahdi Army took heavy casualties in Basrah, Nasiriyah, Babil, and Baghdad over the weekend, despite Sadr’s call for the end of fighting.

The Iraqi military said it was moving in more forces into the South after admitting it was surprised by the level of resistance encountered in Basrah. “Fresh military reinforcements were sent to Basra to start clearing a number of Basra districts of wanted criminals and gunmen taking up arms,” said Brigadier General Abdel Aziz al Ubaidi, the operations chief for the Ministry of Defense. “Preparations for fresh operations have been made to conduct raids and clearance operations in Basra … [and] military operations would continue to restore security in Basra.”

Sending in “fresh military reinforcements” to clear Basra districts of armed gunmen sure doesn’t sound like any cease fire I have heard of….but don’t tell the NYT’s:

Mr. Maliki had vowed that he would see the Basra campaign through to a military victory, and the negotiated outcome was seen as a serious blow to his leadership.

And Wretchard at The Belmont Club see’s this cease fire, if it can be called one, as temporary:

We haven’t gotten to the middle game between Maliki versus Sadr nor remotely close to the endgame. About all we can be sure of is that more yet to come. And although a “ceasefire” has been declared in the newspapers, in truth the ceasefire is bound to be temporary. The fact that a gambit has been played suggests there is going to be a winner and a loser. The question is whether it will be Maliki or Sadr. The Iraqi Army must, for political reasons, settle this affair on their own.


Roggio continues to emphasize that Sadr’s forces have taken heavy casualties, and more to the point is low on ammunition. He surveys the action not only in Basra, but in Baghdad and Nasiriyah and notes that the fightint has died down. One characteristic of militia forces is that they are not configured for sustained combat. They fight with ready-use ammo and some caches. But if we assume that Maliki has decided to press on with the attack and that US forces will not involve themselves, the events of the next few days will depend on the strategic mobility and sustainment capability of the Iraqi Army.

Should be an interesting next few days.

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From Juan Cole, tacit admission that the government is continuing “arbitrary” cleanup ops (and hence must’ve won):

Al-A’raji, for his part, stressed that the situation on the ground did not reflect the agreement reached between the government and the Al-Sadr trend. He said arbitrary arrests were still taking place against the Sadrists and houses continued to be burned, noting that that was a “violation of the agreement.” Al-A’raji criticized the government’s “double-standards” as politicians say one thing and the military commanders say another. A’raji also confirmed that weapons were now in the hands of the government as supporters of Al-Sadr heeded the cleric’s call.

I’m guessing the “weapons” refers to the “medium and heavy weapons” Maliki demanded be turned in . . . and seems to imply they were being turned in, though I haven’t seen that reported elsewhere.

From other reports it appears that, as fast as the Sadr troops are “turning in weapons”, the Iraqi police forces are turning over new ones to them.

Looks like a dramatic victory over the Mahdi Army by the government forces. Even Juan Cole couldn’t spin it otherwise. The Iraqi Army fought, the crooked police were “relieved of duty”, and Mooki is complaining about the “unfairness” of the truce instead of declaring it null and void. The only thing left for the Democrats to do is to cherish the fond memories of the “resistance” and how it “surprised” Maliki’s generals. US: 1, Rats: 0.

Well the Voice of America is sure not painting it as a victory for Maliki i
And of course it was Maliki aides who went to Iran to see Sadr, not the other way around.
And the pic of the Iraqi tank looks like its turret was blown clean off

That sure a terse report, John Ryan. I’d be left wanting, but I checked on Nibras Kazimi’s take over at Talisman Gate yesterday and got, what I feel, a more honest assessment of it all.

Bottom line, I doubt there’s any fat lady singing on stage for Basra as of yet, but it looks like the first rounds fall into Maliki’s corner.

Wow, a tank had it’s turret blown off in the middle of a battle with Iran-supplied and trained militia? Must be a complete defeat. Maliki aides went to Iran? Must not be because Mooki has a price on his head. And the article even dares to suppose that the JAMs have infiltrated Basra police. Who would’ve thunk it? I know I’ve always considered the Basra police force to be the gold standard of Shiite valor. Violence perpetrated by the JAMs has picked up in Baghdad while their brothers are getting wacked in Basra? Unbelievable! How dare they? Don’t they know that they will also get themselves killed? Subjugating tens of thousands of fighters is taking more than four days? The Iraq army must be totally incompetent, everybody must work on Internet time these days to prove themselves. What a disaster for the US! I stand corrected and hang my head in shame.

Here’s another perspective on the fragility of the ‘cease fire’:

Thousands of police officers who refused to fight Sadr are given the sack

Azzaman, March 31, 2008

Interior Minister Jawad Boulani has ordered the dismissal of thousands of police members and officers who allegedly refused orders to take part in the fight against the militiamen of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

The decision covers most of the police force in the predominantly Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad and also several cities in the southern Iraq including Basra where most of the recent fighting took place.

The government’s crackdown on Mahdi Army, the military arm of the Sadr movement in the country, which started a few days ago, came to a halt yesterday.

Several cities in southern Iraq among them Baghdad and Basra were placed under tight curfews as battles between the militiamen and government troops raged.

U.S. occupation troops backed the government in its bid to disarm the militias.

But the Mahdi Army has once again emerged intact as the ceasefire announced yesterday does not call for the militiamen to surrender their weapons.

Thousands of police officers were reported to have refused fighting the militiamen and at least two army regiments joined them with their weapons in Baghdad.

More troops were said to have sided with the militiamen in Basra.

The move to sack police and army personnel sympathizing with Sadr is a risky step as it might derail the already fragile ceasefire.

The exact numbers of those who are covered by the move are not known but analysts say they should involve thousands of police officers and troops.

The analysts say those sacked will have no choice but to join the ranks of Mahdi Army with their weapons, boosting the militia’s strength and standing.

The recent fighting is said to have claimed more than 240 lives in the country since fighting began on Tuesday.

The Iraqi Army and police deserting to the Mahdi Army with their weapons and supplies illustrates how tenuous governmental allegiance remains and consequently calls into question also prospects for a long-term ceasefire.

To make matters more interesting, we learn today that “[Maliki] announced a seven-point plan to stabilize [Basra by] …recruiting 10,000 more police and army forces from local tribes.”

How the quality of the vetting will be better than the last time, as evidenced from past days, is dubious. When 70-80% of Iraqis oppose a US occupation, what kind of vetting process, can beat those numbers?

Another ingredient in this recipe is, if one recalls, that Maliki has stated that no more than 20% of the Sunni Awakenings fighters were to be incorporated into the army and police– as they simply were not necessary and it would be costly. Yet now, here in Basra, Shia get 10,000 more army and police jobs. This information will not sit well with the Sunnis’ Awakening.

In Iraq long-term stability and security cannot be built on human resources that have no investment in the foreign policy directions of their own government.

And the pic of the Iraqi tank looks like its turret was blown clean off

Okay . . .except that fairly obviously isn’t a tank. A tank looks more like this (note track width, armored track skirts, size, general heft). This is something else, probably a BTR-D or something similar. And, like the linked vehicle, the turret was probably absent at production, rather than having been “blown off.”

The fact that AFP apparently doesn’t know the difference between a tank and an APC doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Ditto for CNN’s prominent placement of the picture in their story. Also, I’d note the CNN “analysis” was from before Sadr’s decision to stop fighting . . . which seems a rather important datapoint. Might want to refer to something a bit more up-to-date.

Doug: citing Iranian state media as a source????

Doug: I don’t hang out with the “three monkeys” Do you?

Re: “Doug: citing Iranian state media as a source????”

If you want to know what the Iraqi central government will do next, it is likely a very good source.


(Just a side question. What is the average delay time for a post to be “awaiting moderation”. I’ve noticed that my posts have been in such a limbo state for days…. Or is this just another Conservative tactic?)

It is a BMP1 and it normally has a 73mm gun in a small turret.
I have now seen that same BMP photographed from 8 different angles on 4 different days as if it is new.
Same thing is happening with the DZIK3 that they captured, then burned and the burned HMMWV. Multiple photos on different days at different angles to give the impression of many vehicles destroyed.

(Note: BTR80/94/3E1 used by ISF are eight-wheeled APCs, not tracks.)

A BMP is a hybred. A light tank’s weapons on an APC hull. Little armor.

An RPG is quite capable of taking out a BMP just like it can take out a Bradley too…

The reason the turret is gone is the ready ammo cooked off and blew the turret.

Note: When you hear BS about the IA 14th Div in Basrah being one of Iraq’s best, remember the source. I first saw that flagrant lie on CBS’ webpage.

– The 14th’s opening cerimony was 4 months ago. HQ components ment for the 12th were sent to Basrah last fall to accelerate its formation. Originally it was not due to stand up until Jun08.
– The 14th Div has the distinction of being the youngest and greenest IA Division.
– The 14th hasn’t even got its fourth line brigade (due Jun) or logistics components yet (late-summer).
– The 14th got its third line brigade fresh from training. Graduated the training on 18 Feb 2008.
– The 14th’s second line brigade is the former 5-10 which was stood up May07 and its cadre came from the corrupt 1-10 Brigade. It is not trusted by its own CO.
– The 14th’s only experienced component is its first brigade. The former 3-8 Brigade from Wassit was redesignated/transfered in and the corrupt 1-10 was transfered out…

This is a still forming new division. Not the cream of the crop. They have done quite well for their first major operation…

Mike’s America, I was wondering the source of Azzaman too, so I researched it yesterday. It is one of the widest read Iraqi paper chains in the country. Their online version is, of course, different from their local print versions. To say that they are anti-American in their editorials is an understatement.

According to a Guardian article, Saad Al-Bazzaz (owner of not only Azzman papers, but Iraq’s first private satellite TV station) was accused of using Saudi money to start the venture, and to use it as a propaganda machine. That was early 2005… don’t know what came of the lawsuit.

One of their journalists was kidnapped and executed back in 2007. I suspect their reporter base can be diverse, for I don’t see the value in executing media who support the militant’s cause.

al-Bazzaz was the head of Saddam’s national news agency, state TV and radio networks. He left in 1992 after disagreeing with Saddam’s Kuwait invasion, and became a British citizen, living in London. Still there, I believe.

After Saddam’s removal by US coalition in 2003, he moved the operation back to Baghdad. Thus it’s ironic that is was US action that allows the paper’s free speech, and they use it to promote anti-American scribblings.

Mike was wondering about the Iranian source, not the Iraqi source.

Both sources above can be supported by multiple western media sources.

On Sunday CIA Director Hayden said that 70% of Basra was under the control of militias and gangs

Thanks Doug…. all I can say is: “space… the final frontier”!

It is a BMP1 and it normally has a 73mm gun in a small turret.

Good point, there are other photos available (though it’s apparently been moved), and concur it’s a BMP-1 (and the turret, such as it is–does appear to be missing from that angle–note apparent hole in hull).

Still, even a casual glance at the first crappy photo was enough to tell it was an APC of some sort. And a small winge, it’s probably okay to call a BMP-3 a hybrid–and a PT-76 is classified as a “light tank” (though a Bradley outweighs either), but don’t think I can buy that in reference to a BMP-1. (Among other things, because the 73mm gun shoots the same round as an RPG-7.) But thanks for the pointer.

One things for sure:
The surge certainly hasn’t worked at all. Probably made things worse, rather than better.
The web address for apologies is

BMPs are not tanks, but the media is not known for accuracy or knowledge….

BMPs really do explode very easily and would not pass US safety tests for combat vehicles. They are cramped, under-armored (M2/M3A3s beat them hands down), improperly vented, and poorly designed (the doors in the back of the BMP-1 are fuel pods…. You exit through the top or the rear fuel tanks… think about that). The BMP-1 is the oldest and worst of the series. That said, it still works against unarmored troops.

On the plus side, it has a VERY low profile and can supposedly float like our AAAV7s and LAVs but ONLY in calm water (when the moon is aligned with Venus, etc).

I will also back up that the 14th is one of Iraq’s newest divisions. I do not know why the 9th Mech was not sent in, though it may be deployed along the border or otherwise unavailable.

I am not surprised the media reports the same vehicle as a new kill using different angles. As I have said before, they did this many times reporting IEDs and other attacks. One was the Crude oil fired power plant and neighboring refinery south of the IZ which CNN knew was a power plant/refinery and still reported it as a “massive attack” on the IZ in April 2007.

Igor, wouldn’t that be Iraqi military 1 rats 0? The U.S. military can’t win battles it’s not involved or not much involved in.

Maybe the BMP destroyed itself. I read where one of the first BMPs designs were captured in some conflict and brought to the U.S. The military couldn’t check out its performance because the safety inspector claimed the transmission could catch fire and burn up the crew.

It could have also been an enemy BMP that was destroyed.

Cleaning house of JAM spies was probably one of the main reasons for the Basra. That’s where Sadr really got hit. Those that were fired, were already JAM members, so claiming they were going over to JAM would be redundant.

The Iraqis would probably go through several tests to clean ranks. Maliki would probably score political points for that. Maliki could also score points for stepping down after this term showing he actually cares about the voting process rather than a power grab.

Note: Elements of the 36th Mech Bde of the IA 9th Div have been in Basrah since November.

Also, six Anbaris were KIA in Basrah and their bodies returned to Ramadi last week.
Considering the IA initial stationing policy, the fact that most Anbaris did not join the IA until last year, and the re-destignation of the 1st IA Div as Strategic Reserve QRF Div: Probably have elements of 1st Div in Basrah.

The BMP did not belong to 14th Div. They were never issued any. That is probably 36th Mech Bde. Although 35th Armor Bde is mostly unlocated ATT. The only IA Bn left in Taji belongs to 1st Div, they are using 2-1 INP Bde to cover most of 9th Mech Div’s home areas…

Thanks Dj,

It is difficult to keep up with units now that I am not right there.


No problem. I am currently in the minutia of the Apr ISF OOB update for LWJ, so all the data is right at my fingertips.