Friday, March 28, 2008

He fought Sadr and Sadr won

By Libby Spencer

I leave the big analysis of the morass in Mesopotamia to the policy wonks, but you don't have to be a rocket scientist to grasp that this is bad news for Iraq.

Iraq’s Prime Minister was staring into the abyss today after his operation to crush militia strongholds in Basra stalled, members of his own security forces defected and district after district of his own capital fell to Shia militia gunmen.

It reminds me of an article I read several years ago about a military unit in Afghanistan, back when the media still covered that occupation. The commander of the unit remarked, "You can't buy an Afghani, but you can rent one." It seems the same dynamic plays out in Iraq. Maybe Maliki thought he had an ace up his sleeve with the US effectively bribing the various factions to stop fighting, but it apparently turned out to be just a joker.

Mr al-Maliki has gambled everything on the success of Operation Saulat al-Fursan, or Charge of the Knights, to sweep illegal militias out of Basra.

I have little doubt that the recent spate of visits by US dignitaries had something to do with Maliki throwing his cards on the table and clearly the pressure came straight from the alternate reality team at the White House.

"Prime Minister Maliki's bold decision, and it was a bold decision, to go after the illegal groups in Basra shows his leadership and his commitment to enforce the law in an even-handed manner," Mr Bush said. "It also shows the progress the Iraqi security forces have made during the surge."

Cripes. If this is progress I surely don't want to see what regression looks like. Meanwhile...

If the Iraqi forces fail to stamp out the powerful militias, however, and Iraq sinks into a new bout of in-fighting, Mr Bush’s troops and British forces may be forced to weigh in, sparking a new round of blood-letting ahead of US elections and scuttling British plans for an early withdrawal from Iraq.

That prophecy didn't take long to self-fulfill. Three days in and the US forces are already taking the lead. You know, Bush has stated on numerous occassions that his only plan for Iraq was to engineer the circumstances on the ground to force his successor to maintain the occupation. Damn if it doesn't look like it's going to work.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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  • Who says those Sadrist militias are "illegal"? Why, the leader of the other Shiite faction, who happens at this time to be calling itself the Iraqi government.

    Now what precious little news reports from Basra and Baghdad are trickling in, we learn that it is US soldiers are doing the fighting for the Badrist faction, whom is preferring to step back and try to prevent their own troops from switching sides and joining the Sadrists.

    Somebody please remind me why we decided to back Maliki and attempt assassination of Sadr? Would doing the reverse have bought ue anything? Why are we there still?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:45 PM  

  • Those are the three trillion tax dollar questions Jeffrey. It would be great to get an answer that made sense, but I'm afraid we never will.

    By Blogger Libby Spencer, at 8:26 PM  

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