Mahdi Army “Fighting for its life”…

…in Basra. Is that a bad thing?

From The Guardian:

A senior commander in the Mahdi army said today the militia was fighting a battle for survival in Basra against a rival Shia faction seeking to obliterate it ahead of September elections.

Fighting broke out in Basra on Tuesday when Iraqi government forces launched an offensive against Shia militia in the city. Overnight, US jets carried out air strikes in support of Iraqi forces in at least two locations.

Shiek Ali al-Sauidi, a prominent member of the Moqtada al-Sadr-led movement in Basra, said his men were being targeted not by the Iraqi government but by government militias loyal to the rival Supreme Islamic Council faction.

“They are a executing a very well drawn plan. They are trying to exterminate the Sadrists and cut and isolate the movement before the September local elections,” he said in a telephone interview with the Guardian.

What do you think?

16 thoughts on “Mahdi Army “Fighting for its life”…”

  1. Sadr has never been interested in anything other than thuggery, death squads, coup, and the imposition of Iranian-style Shari’a. Not trying or killing him in 2004, after he orchestrated Hojjat ul-Islam Abdul Majid al-Khoei’s murder in the mosque of Imam ‘Ali, was a big mistake. Blogger Steven Vincent paid for that mistake with his life, after he exposed Sadr’s mafia-style corruption in Basra. Sadr’s death squads then went on to almost trigger a full-scale Iraqi civil war before the Surge quieted things down, and the Anbar Awakening settled accounts of honor with the Sunni terrorists. Meanwhile, his thugs drove the British out of Basra, twice, and are now fighting with Iraq’s government.

    They will never be anything other than thugs and terrorists. Which is why wiping out his organization, even if done by a similar group, can only be seen as a good thing. Their deaths will be a blessing for Iraqis and allied forces alike.

    I hope the American military was smart enough to have a hand in this. It fits with some aspects of Kilcullen’s doctrines in particular. If the answer is “no”, all I can say is “do better next time, then, and learn from this.” Meanwhile, I’ll cheer Sadr’s enemies on, regardless.

  2. Just saw a chunk of Fitna and I’m reminded of some of my less than Christian ways. “Nuke ‘em ’till they glow and shoot ‘em in the dark”.

    Let them bloody each other and let the good guys clean up the “winner”.

  3. The United States seems to be backing a faction whose victory will probably result in a Shia federation inside Iraq. This will partition the country, in effect, by leaving out the Sunnis and the Kurds. Have we finally decided that this is the best way to bring stability and facilitate our exit?

  4. Look. Iranian backed tribes who refuse obedience to the central government will have to be annihilated as political entities. They represent strategic threats to the existence of the Iraqi state. Threats like that provoke war. So yes, of course the elections have something to do with this.

  5. I’ve been wondering if maybe this is a way for Sadr to save face while the Iraqi government takes out the extremist elements in his organization that are allied with Iran.

  6. Has anyone seen Sadr, in person lately? There were rumors that he suffered some sort of ‘food poisoning’ (and was being treated by some helpful Iranian and Russian doctors) – there were also rumors that he was just feeling depressed, in rehab, and that he was devoting himself to his religious studies.

    These many rumors, combined with the fact that no one has seen him for a while, do raise questions about his relative power as a thug. Newsweek was calling him ‘the most powerful man in Iraq’, but apparently he was disappeared from public life fairly easily.

  7. Sorry to rain on the fantasy, but Sadr is less closely allied to Iran than Maliki. He’s more of an Iraqi nationalist and the fact that the USA has to shore up the rump government’s attack will do nothing to dispel that.

    Factual basis? OK. Where did SCIRI leadership spend the Saddam years? Where did Sadr?

    It was Ahmadinejad who was greeted in Iraq with flowers,

    Meanwhile, bold (i.e., reckless) Pres. Bush praises bold PM Maliki and proclaims success. How is the fighting going in the real world? Not so well.

    The Iraqi military push into the southern city of Basra is not going as well as American officials had hoped, despite President Bush’s high praise for the operation, several U.S. officials said Friday.

    Given that Sadr and his party are apparently more popular than the government party, perhaps this should not be a surprise. Or as a dKos poster puts it, with puppets the strings work both ways, and so our forces get stuck in the Iraqi Civil War. (You know, the war which demented strategist Fred Kagan declared over a week before it started.)

  8. I would expect internecine warfare for a generation as in Lebanon, during which time a nostalgia will rise for the “good times” under Saddam.

    Oh, the genius of the Neo-Con vision.

  9. #5 from Jeff at 9:29 am on Mar 29, 2008
    Look. Iranian backed tribes who refuse obedience to the central government will have to be annihilated as political entities. They represent strategic threats to the existence of the Iraqi state. Threats like that provoke war. So yes, of course the elections have something to do with this.

    #1 from Joe Katzman at 3:03 am on Mar 29, 2008
    Sadr has never been interested in anything other than thuggery, death squads, coup, and the imposition of Iranian-style Shari’a. Not trying or killing him in 2004, after he orchestrated Hojjat ul-Islam Abdul Majid al-Khoei’s murder in the mosque of Imam ‘Ali, was a big mistake. Blogger Steven Vincent paid for that mistake with his life, after he exposed Sadr’s mafia-style corruption in Basra. Sadr’s death squads then went on to almost trigger a full-scale Iraqi civil war before the Surge quieted things down, and the Anbar Awakening settled accounts of honor with the Sunni terrorists. Meanwhile, his thugs drove the British out of Basra, twice, and are now fighting with Iraq’s government.

    They will never be anything other than thugs and terrorists. Which is why wiping out his organization, even if done by a similar group, can only be seen as a good thing. Their deaths will be a blessing for Iraqis and allied forces alike.

    I hope the American military was smart enough to have a hand in this. It fits with some aspects of Kilcullen’s doctrines in particular. If the answer is “no”, all I can say is “do better next time, then, and learn from this.” Meanwhile, I’ll cheer Sadr’s enemies on, regardless.

    *Isn’t this more or less how Saddam kept the Iraqui state intact. Dumb and indefensible war. Dumb and indefensible strategic vision*

  10. Given the prominence of militias in Iraq, I’m sure some paramilitaries are involved. However, the government is clearly leading the operation, with U.S. sanction.

    I think it’s great. Anything that lessens the hold of Iran on Iraq’s future is good. And the timing is happy as well, from a domestic standpoint. Wiping out the Sadrists is a good thing; wiping them out well before November is better.

  11. Wiping out the Sadrists is a good thing

    The Bush/Iraqwagmire remnant can be identified by their belief bold action always attains its objective (unless America’s fifth column of dirty f—ing hippies get in the way).

    The Sadrists are probably the plurality party in Southern Iraq. Maliki’s point is to wipe them out before the October provincial elections, when Sadr would probably increase his representation. Except it looks like our training of the Iraqi government forces isn’t quite as effective as we would like, which is why American kids get to die for the war of one mafia against another. But as Dick (“I had other priorities”) Cheney likes to say, they did volunteer.

  12. #8: Al Malaki is not a member of SCIRI, nor is his parties strength in Basra where the heaviest Iranian influence has occurred.

    As for who has taken refuge in Iran, where was Al-Sadr last year? Nationalist my hind end.

    As far as sighting Iranian television as a source goes, well, what are they supposed to say? I saw a very pragmatic formal state occassion. What else is Iraq supposed to do? Go back to war with Iran?

    “Given that Sadr and his party are apparently more popular than the government party…”

    As evidenced by his relative failure in the elections? His party got what, 70,000 votes and holds a massive three seats in the parliment.

    Every battle fought in Iraq has been declared won or lost by someone before it even started. This one is no different. We’ll see how badly it is going and for whom in a few weeks.

    I’ve been hearing how the Iraqi civil war has just started for 4 years now. So long as you can remain skeptical that we are winning until conclusive evidence arrives, I think I’ll remain skeptical that this is the long awaited and proclaimed start of an Iraqi civil war. It seems more like we’ve finally gotten the Sunni thugs beat back enough that we can go after the Shia thugs.

  13. #14 from Cabalamat at 8:58 pm on Mar 29, 2008

    I think that who runs Basra is not worth the blood of a single British grenadier. It appears the UK government agrees with me.

    by far the most intelligent thing said in this thread

  14. #14 and #15:

    I would amplify what has been said. Who runs the whole of Iraq isn’t worth the blood of one British grenadier – or one American soldier either, notwithstanding the fact that the ghastly mess that Iraq is in is entirely the fault of a belligerent, incompetent American government that had to be seen to be DOING SOMETHING.

    It shouldn’t have been necessary to invade Iraq for a second time at all – the job should have been finished the first time. It wasn’t necessary to invade Iraq for a second time – because Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with Al Qaeda; in fact the Iraqi government viciously suppressed them.

    The real culprits were the Saudis, and particularly the extremist, Wahabist Saudis (who comprise most of the ruling classes, anyway). And Saudi would have been a great deal easier to deal with. But shock horror, the oil companies (many of them run by Bush’s friends) would have lost profits that way – so instead of sending Saudi Arabia back the bin Laden family in pieces wrapped in bacon, they got sent back on the only airliner allowed to fly on 9/12 – and the American military command has proceeded to kill 4000 American soldiers and countless (best guess is a million) Iraqis and spend 650 _billion_ dollars of taxpayers’ money – so far. And to Britain’s great shame, the UK government of the day went along with it.

    What should we do now? Walk out and let them kill each other. After destroying anything and everything to do with oil, Iraq’s only source of income and the only thing they have of any interest to anyone else. Let them rot in Dark Ages squalour as they appear to want. Let the Islamic world sort out its own mess – they certainly have enough hard-earned Western money to do it with!

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