April 16, 2007

Sadr Plays His Last Political Card

Moqtada al-Sadr has played his final political card in Iraq by withdrawing his ministers from the Cabinet of Nouri al-Maliki. The move puts pressure on Maliki to find other factions to support his majority, and so far, Maliki has refused to buckle to demands for a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops:

The head of Moqtada Sadr's Iraqi parliament bloc says the radical cleric has ordered his ministers to withdraw from the cabinet.

Mr Sadr's bloc, which has six cabinet ministers, is trying to press Prime Minister Nouri Maliki to set a timetable for a US troop withdrawal.

Mr Maliki has refused, saying a pullout depends on conditions on the ground.

Analysts say Mr Sadr holds great power among Iraq's Shia majority, but the unity government is likely to survive.

If Maliki survives the withdrawal of Sadr's support, Sadr is finished politically. He drew only middling crowds in Najaf for his exhortation for the removal of American troops -- about 15,000 in what should be his power base. His failure to appear at the rally, or indeed in Iraq for the past three months, has apparently eroded his influence both among Shi'ites and on the government. A failure to bring down Maliki will marginalize his extremism and strengthen Maliki among moderates.

Sadr still can cause problems with his Mahdi Army, but even that seems to be less of a threat than before. The US/Iraqi surge strategy has pushed them out of their neighborhood strongholds, and the momentum has shifted to the US. The bigger issue for American troops is the Sunni insurgencies, and a weakened Sadr might mitigate all but the al-Qaeda in Iraq form of terrorism. AQI has even the other Ba'athist-remnant groups at odds, and if the Iraqi government moves away from Sadr and the Mahdis, they may be more likely to cut deals to end the fighting.

Or, Sadr could prevail. He has a nasty habit of returning from the almost-dead -- a habit enabled by Iraqi and American policies to engage him politically. It looks like Sadr is on the run now, and hopefully this time the US and Maliki governments have the good sense to keep him that way.


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Comments (13)

Posted by Courtneyme109 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 16, 2007 9:26 AM

Mookie is finished. All the guy has done is to get his minions in one place so the Americans could grant their desire to become Sha heed, like Najaf in 2003, Karbala in 2004 and Sadr City in 2005. His track record of failure could be used against him by the Mullahs - because it could look like he's an American agent - sucking Iran dry of volunteers and cash and nothing to show for it.

After Iran has spent nearly a 100 million bucks on the guy and not one theocracy or caliphate anywhere in Iraq.

The Great Satan has marginalized Al Sadr and the Mahdi Army. Mookie doesn't matter any more.

Posted by krm [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 16, 2007 9:30 AM

Perhaps it is necesary to not leave him "almost dead" like in the past. This guy may have a knack for returning from the "almost dead" ut I am highly confident that he would not return from the fully dead.

Posted by richard mcenroe [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 16, 2007 9:52 AM

Perhaps we could deal with him on a 'per Diem' basis...

Posted by Adjoran [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 16, 2007 10:02 AM

Mookie is no genius. The guy is an uneducated thug who trades on his late father's name. We helped create him as he is today by allowing him to escape prosecution for murder - one of the real "mistakes" in the conduct of the occupation.

Even with millions in aid from Iran and the devotion of the ignorant and brutal punks who comprise his militia, he has failed to accomplish anything of note. Even his little fiefdom in the slums of Baghdad has collapsed.

He will stay out of sight because he understands we realize our mistake and Maliki is no longer providing political cover. If he shows his fat little face, he will soon be swinging from a rope.

Posted by camwg [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 16, 2007 10:08 AM

Captain where did you get the number 15,000 for Mookie's march? It was my understanding that the coalition had estimated the numbers to be between 5,000 to 7,000 using areal photographs to make that estimate.

Posted by rbj [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 16, 2007 10:31 AM

Yup, no need for the "almost" part any more.

Posted by patrick neid [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 16, 2007 11:07 AM

sadr will no longer prove to be a problem when he's dead. until such time he will continue with his mayhem costing many US lives.

if we had killed him several years ago we could have dealt with it's aftermath when the public support for the war was much higher and he would never have been part of the government in the first place with his ever growing cult status. we created this monster and it will be around until its dead.

Posted by Mike C [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 16, 2007 11:45 AM

Aren't these the same six ministers who al Maliki has been threatening (and working up his nerve) to fire anyway? Maybe mookie wanted to grab whatever small advantage he might get from doing on his own terms what was going to happen anyway.

Posted by ET [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 16, 2007 1:36 PM

I've read several recent reports the Sadr-aligned ministers were going to be relieved of their duties. This seems like Sadr's effort to save face, like quitting before getting fired.

Posted by burt [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 16, 2007 2:25 PM

I hope you optimists are right; I think he has nine lives and has only used four. What will be telling is who replaces these six reprobates.

Posted by conservative democrat [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 16, 2007 8:47 PM

I agree with Burt, when the guy seems down he pops back up again. If I believed in conspiracies I'd say Sadr and Maliki have some secret deal where they protect each others interests. Maliki seems pretty friendly to the Mullahs in Iran, too friendly for our interests in the region. Sadr will surface again, maybe Basra where I've read the Mahdi Army and the Badr Brigade have divvied up the spoils and are close to having Sharia Law enacted, with financial help from Iran along with Iranian agents.

Posted by Lightwave [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 16, 2007 9:22 PM

Observations on this:

1) This is 100% indisputable proof that the surge is working.. Mookie is now gone. He is no longer part of the government. His departure is a direct result of the surge, as is the direct departure of his corrupt ministers. The Mehdi Army is disbanding, and we've scored a major victory in Iraq.

2) The Iraqi Government can work now. For too long, the "realists" in Iraq have been complaining that the Sadrist bloc in the Iraqi parliament would upset the balance. That no longer matters, as they are no longer in the government. The critical legislation that the Iraqis need to get passed can be passed now. Mookie's boys are no longer any factor in the government.

3) As Powerline pointed out, the Sadrist bloc and the Democrats have the exact same position in Iraq. The President has stayed strong against the Dhimmicrats and in turn has scored the most important political victory of the year. Want to end Nancy Pelosi's reign in the MSM? The President needs to simply say the following: "If we had listened to the Democrats and set a timetable for leaving Iraq, the political arm of the terrorist Mehdi Army would still be infecting the Iraqi parliament. They have instead been driven out because we remained strong and united." The Dhimmi's numbers would drop into the teens overnight. It would undeniably show that the Dhimmicrats' interests are politically aligned with the enemies of this country, and the American public would start to ask serious questions about having them in charge of anything ever again.

The President's plan is working. It will continue to work if we let our people do the job they are trained to do.

Posted by Angry Dumbo [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 17, 2007 9:53 PM

Did you catch Omar's theory over at Iraq the Model?

His view is that Sadr moving from half support of Maliki and half opposition to Maliki to a stance of full time opposition to the Maliki goverment was done because he was losing influence.

As Omar sees it the stragegy is as follows:

In my opinion, Sadr and his political wing will now pretend to distance themselves from the armed wing, which is what they’ve been doing for some time now, while actually keeping -if not increasing- the support for armed operations against military and civilian targets. at the same time, they will try to drive more people into opposing the government and the presence of coalition troops with spectacular protests here and there. And they will find nothing wrong if those “peaceful protesters” occasionally decide to use force and shoot at Iraqi and US soldiers or eliminate those who collaborate with the government and the coalition, because “that’s not us, not the Mehdi army. It’s the people’s reaction to an incompetent government and an illegal occupation”.


For purposes of US political consumption, these street protests will be on the MSM day and night to promote the idea that the Maliki government is falling. What will be missed by the MSM is that Sadr's army is getting its ass kicked daily. The Maliki government's bigger problem remains AQ. Still with Sadr and his ministers outside of the Maliki government it will be apparent to even the likes of Keith Olbermann that Sadr operates only as an Iranian proxy.