March 17, 2007

Sadr Goes All In

Moqtada al-Sadr has played his hole card in his high-stakes game against the US and Iraqi forces in Baghdad. Sadr skipped town as the Coalition gathered its strength for the new surge stratgey to secure Baghdad, taking a powder east to Iran to consult with his sponsors. His whereabouts still unknown, he ended his silence by issuing a statement to fuel an anti-American rally in Sadr City:

Residents of the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City on Friday showed signs of growing resentment toward the presence of U.S. troops in the area, chanting "No occupation!" and "No America!" in a march demanding the removal of a U.S. base there.

The protest came as U.S. military officials cited Sadr City, stronghold of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada Sadr, as a success story in a month-old effort to improve security in Baghdad. It also coincided with an announcement that the Pentagon is speeding up the deployment of 2,600 soldiers in a combat aviation brigade. Commanders, who need support troops for the military buildup here, had requested the early deployment. ...

The Sadr City protest followed Friday prayers, which featured a statement from Sadr calling on followers to "raise your voices in unity" against "America, the grand devil." The statement, read by a prominent cleric close to Sadr, marked a toughening of his rhetoric as the U.S. touts its foothold in Sadr City.

The relationship between the United States and Sadr has become increasingly complex since the new security crackdown. Sadr frequently has called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. But in recent weeks he has become an indirect but crucial ally of U.S. military officials. He pulled his Al Mahdi militia off the streets when the plan was launched, reportedly as a favor to Iraq's Shiite Muslim prime minister, Nouri Maliki.

That accommodation has helped U.S. forces carry out their operations. But analysts have been suggesting that Sadr risks losing his credibility as a voice of resistance if he is perceived as helping the U.S. cause. Concern over that possibility could explain his statement Friday.

His credibility is certainly at issue, but not just in the way the Times reports. Sadr finds himself in a box now, and the one weapon he has has proven ineffective in the past. He has not beaten the US in a street fight yet, and now he has allowed us to gain a foothold in his home turf.

This might explain why Sadr still hasn't poked his head above ground, another point against his credibility. It's fine to rabble rouse from a distance, but it doesn't carry all that much weight on the street. While Sadr hides out elsewhere, the US continues to gain more traction in Sadr City. The more that continues, the less relevant Sadr becomes.

At some point, Sadr either has to give up the Mahdi Army or try his hand against the US in increasingly worse position. However, if he tries and fails to raise enough force to eject the US from Baghdad, Sadr's career as a militia general will come crashing to an end. He has been smart enough to avoid the ultimate challenge so far, although he came close in Najaf -- when his credibility suffered as a result. If he can't inspire a successful challenge to the US and Iraqi forces clearing out Baghdad, he will probably not get another chance to do so.


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» Wanker's Move from Cobb
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» Is Muqtada al Sadr the key to peace in Baghdad? from Right Truth
At least one person is suggesting that Muqtada al Sadr may be the key to peace in Baghdad, so I'm asking what you readers think. It is suggested that Sadr is working WITH the United States and with the Iraqi [Read More]

Comments (9)

Posted by unclesmrgol [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 17, 2007 2:05 PM

The fact that we allowed the march to proceed says a lot.

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 17, 2007 2:50 PM

What a joke.

Men in bedsheets are like men in dresses. Not up to the tasks presented by civilized societies.

As to this current rant, how does it differ from most "seeths?"

Besides, it's St. Patrick's day. Not just a usual slow weekend for silly news from Sadr; but its like watching him trying to walk on icy streets. Where there's lots better parades to see.

Sadr City by the way is the roach motel of Iraq.

If you've been to Insta Pundit last week, you saw a photo from a busy Michael Totten, working in the Kurdish area. Where all is peaceful. And, all is beautiful.

No complaints out of the major parts of Iraq. Just a small segment. Where the loons can go among the poor ... and do ... whatever.

Pretty typical of how things were back in the 1600's. When the aristocrats were few. But had it all. And, peasants weren't even as well thought of as the sheep and cows.

As to "all in." Sadr, himself, is in Iran.

And, from what I learned of the soviet's colapse, where even henry kissinger didn't know a thing; taking the whole state department and cia with him down the toilet; we're pretty much in the same place, now. DC is the last crowd that "gets it."

But business is "off."

And, betting against Bush at cards is like watching a comedy routine, already.

Don't confuse, "can't speak," with can't play.

Posted by skip [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 17, 2007 3:04 PM

Once we started looking for places to establish COP's Sadr was forced to respond. He's been a strong voice against "occupation" since day one but as the Captain points out, his street cred is gone.

Posted by MQ [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 17, 2007 3:08 PM

We should have shot the bastard long, long ago and got on with it.

Posted by Sheva [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 17, 2007 9:28 PM

Suspect that the initial strategy by Sadr to lay low until the surge forces withered and the surrendercrats finished the job for him has now been trumped by the Giuliani-like mafia dismantlement of his Mookie militia.

As a result he is faced with the use it or lose it proposition. But it may already be too late. Usually, Mookie could muster some immediate street demonstrations and create something close to a full scale riot (his specialty) in order to get the MNF to back down.

I suspect our new general has a completely different response in mind.

Mookie is going down and he's going to look like an irrelevant Iranian dupe doing so.

Posted by NahnCee [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 17, 2007 9:41 PM

Nasrallah has been doing a pretty good job in Lebanon being a murderous pest, not appearing in public that often, and with Iran's help. I don't see why Sadr can't do the same sort of thing with Iraq for ever and ever and ever and ever. Especially if he's also sending in money and things that go "boom!" with his messages.

Posted by penigma [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 18, 2007 12:26 AM

"We should have shot the bastage long ago and got on with it" -

In this case, "got on with it" would have been a full-scale rebellion, overwhelming our troops, leading to 10's of thousands of US troop deaths.. we'd have been outnumberd 10:1, or more, in city fighting..

This President doesn't support the troops any more than Sadr does - and remarks like that one show as much depth as "bring it on."

This was ever the problem, the Shiaa wanted us to kill Houssien, so that they could take over, and we couldn't kill Houssien, without them taking over. You made your bed, now you get to sleep it, but unfortunately, so do our troops. If the neo-cons had a lick of sense - they'd have never done this, never invaded, if they actually cared about the troops, which of course, they don't.

Posted by MQ [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 18, 2007 7:01 AM

General "penigma" it's good to know you happen to know what would have happened if capitulation to Sadr didn't reign from the White House when they chose not to shoot the bastard. Bush started a surge a month ago and Sadr seeing an early demise ahead runs off to Iran? Give me a break, that doesn't tell you something? Like, if we were out to shoot him two years ago, he would have either been lying in a pool of blood or scampered to Iran long ago. In both cases, just as today Sadr City would be a lot more peaceful than it had proven to be.That last paragraph you write is a good testament to confusion.

Posted by docjim505 [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 18, 2007 7:27 AM

We missed the opportunity to get rid of that porky SOB (via an injection of 173 grains of copper and lead into his thick skull). Now, I think we could do ourselves at least some good by heavy psywar to portray him as the coward he is.

"While Mookie's telling you to 'stand up against the great devil', where is he? SAFE IN IRAN!"