Sadr Ceasefire Not Holding


Well, looks the slaughter of Mahdi fighters will continue seeing as how Sadr apparently doesn’t have the control as he thought he did:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – An agreement aimed at ending fighting in the Baghdad bastion of Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr appeared on the verge of collapse on Tuesday after gunmen attacked U.S. troops.

The deal between the ruling Shi’ite alliance and Sadr’s opposition movement in parliament to end fighting in the Sadr City slum district was formally signed on Monday.

But with the ink barely dry on the 16-point pact, clashes flared overnight and through Tuesday, raising questions over how much control the anti-American cleric has over some of the Mehdi Army militiamen who profess allegiance to him.

“It is clear that Sadr does not control all of the armed groups that make up the Mehdi Army,” Kadhum al-Muqdadi, a professor at Baghdad University, told Reuters. “This fighting could last a long time.”

A Mehdi Army statement read out in mosques in Sadr City late on Monday said the deal must be respected.

Nevertheless, the U.S. military said violence broke out between its troops and militants in Sadr City overnight, where seven weeks of clashes have already killed hundreds of people.

Meanwhile this article is a must read on the power struggle going on: (h/t The Strata-Sphere)

Even the most diehard Iraq hawks want to reduce the U.S. military footprint in Iraq and lean more heavily on Iraqi Security Forces to do the hard work of defeating insurgents and sectarian militias. Which is why recent developments in Basra have been so encouraging.


These factions recognized what too many American observers miss, which is Sadr’s uniquely pernicious role in Iraqi politics — both as an agent of instability and as a stalking horse for Iran. Virtually all of Iraq’s political factions have been at one time or another beneficiaries of Iranian largesse, but the Sadrist relationship with Iran is of a different kind. Sadr first came to prominence as the authentic voice of Iraq’s Shia masses, those who endured Saddam’s misrule and never had the good fortune of slipping away into exile. He had a level of nationalist credibility other Shia leaders lacked, which is why some Sunni cheered him on when he first challenged the U.S. occupation. Since then, however, Sadrist ties to Iran have deepened: Whereas other Shia factions take money from Teheran, the Sadrist forces are directly armed and trained by Iranians, and some claim that Iranian operatives are embedded with Sadr’s so-called “Special Groups.” These forces — which Sadr himself may no longer directly control — have been particularly agressive in fighting Americans and Iraqis alike.

This is the context in which Maliki launched his “Charge of the Knights,” which was meant to be a small-scale police operation in Basra targeted at local warlords with ties to Sadr.


But Maliki did something unexpected: He fired those who refused to fight and pressed on with the offensive, in Basra and also in Sadr City, where a second front opened up. A tenuous ceasefire took hold in Basra, and ISF forces have cleared the streets of the militias, using tactics drawn from the surge. This was done with a strikingly small number of American and British troops, though coalition assistance proved crucial.


Though these gains may be temporary, there has also been a more lasting change: The Sadrists have been marginalized. Even the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has been reluctant to make political interventions in recent years, pointedly condemned Sadr for refusing to disarm. Leading Sunni faction have also returned to the fold. The Kurds, who have their own problems with Sadr, are also on board. Maliki, suprisingly enough, increasingly looks like the leader of all Iraqis.

So what does this mean for our debate over Iraq? Advocates of withdrawal will insist that Maliki’s forces are just as penetrated by the Iranians as the Sadrist militias. But as noted above, this reflects a simple misunderstanding of Iranian influence. The fighting in Basra and Sadr City hasn’t simply pitted one set of Iranian-backed militas (one in ISF uniforms) against another, and it’s clear that the forces that controlled Basra weren’t popular at all: The city really was, as Maliki argued, in the grip of criminal gangs who terrorized the population.


Unfortunately, few Americans understand what Maliki has accomplished, and how much international assistance he needs to beat back foreign elements that aim to undermine Iraq’s fragile democracy — which is, as far as neighboring governments are concerned (particularly those that begin with an “I” and end with an “n”), a profoundly subversive influence

Just one more reason why we should NOT be discussing running from this fight. While the Iraqi government is tackling Sadr and Iran quite well, they still need our support. Given time their support needs will be reduced, but it takes time. We can take solace that they are at the forefront of this fight, not us….and take solace that Maliki is even taking on this fight in the first place.

Good news not reported.

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Do you ever get the feeling that politicians and diplomats have never heard of fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me?



I get that feeling at least three times a week.

I get the feeling that there will be only one way to resolve this.

Unfortunately, I also get the feeling that it will be very costly for all involved.

Mookie should have had a bullet in his head the first time he tangled with us.

Aye Chihuahua,

“Mookie should have had a bullet in his head the first time he tangled with us.”

Or, as I’ve been asking since the first time he tried the old hudna-redux ploy, after breaking his first, “Why is that scumbag still alive?”

Aye Chihuahua, Yonason,

The military asked the question a while ago also. We debated it at CGSC (Command and General Staff College) in 2006 even. Though I doubt I can find the actual document as to why he is alive and not taken out with the rest of the trash, I would have to point to the fact diplomats wanting him not made into a martyr and when Sistani rebuked him, the State Dept hoped Sadr would fade away.

Villages may fade away in the desert, but madmen do not. Especially madmen supported by a neighboring country (Iran).

The DOS did not understand the culture and Iran’s early involvement. Some would say they still do not. The US Military was playing catch up with tactics in this culture while dealing with massive “lawfare” (like a VERY restrictive ROE) and failed to capitalize on its many successes early on (at least we learned). Hindsight being what it is, Sadr should have been puppy chow on day 1. The lawyers and diplomats being what they are, we still would not have taken him out even with this knowledge.

Needless to say, this is a acidic topic between combat arms guys and the JAG/diplomatic types.


Please do not take my comments as being in any way critical of what you guys have done, and continue to do, over there.

I realize that there are lots of other behind the scenes, between the lines issues that go into decisions like this.

I am spouting of with the benefit of both hindsight and distance.

Too bad Mookie couldn’t have disappeared into the night so that only those who need to know would really know where he went.

Thanks, Chris G.

Glad to hear the military is at least trying to do it’s job, even if the State Dept won’t let it. As to making him a martyr, they would forget him. Looking at how much other trash has been taken out, and how negatively it effected their efforts, it doesn’t seem likely he would have been different, especially since he’s causing so much pain to the Iraqis he prowls among. And, since he was actually physically going to Iran to facilitate Iranian involvement, then if he was critical to that effort, his loss would be a tremendous boon to our efforts that would probably far outway any tears shed by his minions. But what do I know.

Regards, and thanks for doing such a great job over there! Keep up the great work!

See, someone needs to “talk” to Sadr. If they’d just sit down with him, diplomacy is the answer. It always works, and when it doesn’t, it’s always Bush’s fault, right? Sorry, but sometimes sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes it’s not Bush’s fault; it’s a bad guy’s.

Aye Chihuahua,

Do not worry about criticism. We call these “After Action Reports” (AARs) and are far harder on ourselves. As it is, more and more Iraqis (esp Shia) are seeing Sadr as a Persian puppet. His scrunched up face also earned him the label of “Downs Sydrome Boy” among Iraqis.

Sistani’s continued marginalizing of Sadr and the fact Sadr is more aligned with Persian Shia than Arabic Shia is the wedge most likey to split Sadr from the herd. The more Iran is seen as the force behind dead Arab Iraqis (which is the truth), the more Sadr’s and others like him will be seen as traitors to the Arabic Shia and all Iraqis (Arabs really do not like Persians). A “Shia Awakening” would crush him as the “Sunni Awakening” crushed AQs long presence in Iraq.


I am currently in the USA and may actually witness the full pregnancy of my 3rd (and last) child. My first child thought I lived in the computer as he saw me on a web cam more than in real life. I do, however, get to remain in contact with people in Iraq and Afghanistan quite often as my assignment directly supports them. The fact the media thinks it can get away with making up stories while US Soldiers are able to instantly refute them still astounds me. This is unlike Vietnam where it took months until the Soldiers could write back about a false story.

Ironically I think I am in more danger at home than I am in Baghdad. At least there I was armed and could count on others to help if need be.

Chris G

“I am currently in the USA and may actually witness the full pregnancy of my 3rd (and last) child.”

MAZEL TOV! and Best wishes! Hopefully you will soon be able to spend not only more quality but also more quantity time with your family.

P.s., there’s a fellow in my Synagogue who’s an intelligence officer (USAF) who was involved in WMD inspections and so we asked him if there were any in Iraq. Roughly translated, he said “Oh, yeah!”

And, as to the Arabs hating the Persians, I’ve heard that there’s no love lost the other way either.

“Ironically I think I am in more danger at home than I am in Baghdad.”

LOL! My dad was with the 1st Marines at Guadalcanal. He told me once that after he came back to the States, when he and my Mom lived in Philadelphia for a while, there were areas you just didn’t go into, especially at night, even with backup.


Thanks. We know it is a girl and I know where I will be when she is a tennager and dating… On the front porch waiting…….

A book you should look at. It is also from a USAF officer on what was found in Iraq.

“Weapons of mass Destruction Found” by (Maj) Bryan Russell (NBC Officer, USAF)

It’s not surprising the cease fire is not holding. Sadr’s militia sees a cease fire much in the same terms as Hezbollah and Hamas (to name a couple) … a time for rearming and continue its terror activities. The cease fire is for the “other side” to follow.