Friday, April 11, 2008

A new screenplay for Cheney ?

President Talabani and vice-president Hashemi issued a statement on Thursday promising a political "Baghdad spring" and urging all of the GreenZone parties to take advantage of it, overcoming all differences in the interests of national unity.

But it soon became apparent that the political rose-petals and sweets that were supposed to greet Maliki on his triumphal return from Basra (not to mention his independence and heroism in the attack on Sadr City) have not been forthcoming. The three main political participants he and the Americans are looking to for the expansion of his government are Fadhila (Shiite), IraqiList (Allawi, secular) and IAF, the main Sunni bloc.

Here's how it went (except where otherwise linked, the next three paragraphs refer to items reported in VOI for Friday and Saturday:

A Fadhila spokesman said the Maliki ally who happens to be Minister of Oil should "revise" a charge he made to the effect the brother of the Basra governor (governor and brother both Fadhila) has made money in oil-smuggling, and said the charge was unsupported and merely political; and another Fadhila spokesperson counter-accused the Oil Minister of taking millions of dollars in bribes. Kind of a frosty relationship there, you might say.

Meanwhile, a spokesman from Allawi's IraqiList said the Maliki administration should first apologize for unjustified charges it made a year and a half ago about Allawi's involvement on the battle between local security forces and the "Army of Heaven" in Zarka, near Najaf, before expecting any progress in the question of a political alliance. So there doesn't seem to be the expected outpouring of solidarity there either.

Finally, while one IAF spokesperson said the IAF would probably join the government "soon" without saying when, another expressed surprise that Maliki hadn't invited the Sadrists to the Friday all-blocs meeting, and said the whole strategy of trying to isolate the Sadrist trend is wrong. So I can't recommend putting your money on the IAF either.

Meanwhile Petraeus, in Washington, realizing or having been told that the political de-Sadrization cum disarmament wasn't working, called on Maliki (via Washington press-conference remarks) to not only recognize the legitimacy of the Sadrist trend, but to "work with" it, and not only that but to "hold out his hand" to it.

So the Plan--for disarming Sadr and reconstituting a Maliki support-group with broad non-Sadr support--looks to be pretty much officially a shambles.

Not only that: AlHayat this morning quotes two senior people in the GreenZone Interior and Defence Ministries who say if the Mahdi Army was ever put down in the South, probably what would happen would be a resurgence of the messianic groups that go by Army of Heaven, Followers of AlYamani, and so on, particularly in their strongholds in Basra, Najaf, and Karbala. And they seem to have learned some pretty up-to-date War on Terror terminology, if you catch my drift.

For example, General Mahdi AlSabih, head of the security and order division of the Interior Ministry, said the AlYamani group has evolved into a type of "sleeper-cell", emerging only when it thinks the circumstances right, and relying on secrecy in relationships between members, in contrast to other armed organizations. And he admitted that it was the Mahdi Army (and not his own forces) that was key to putting them down in the uprisings in Basra and elsewhere in January 08.

General Abdulaziz Muhamed Jasim, director of military affairs (!) in the Defense Ministry told the reporter that the millenarian groups "resemble AlQaeda, in that they go into hiding when they are attacked, and emerge with they think the time is right to move..." And he "admitted" how difficult it is to eliminate these groups, which have found in the South a fertile area for their development, which rely on secrecy, and so on and so forth.

And yes, says the AlHayat reporter, this is all written down in a GreenZone "intelligence report", warning of this next danger in the event the Mahdi Army was ever elimimated in the South.

Also yes, to answer your next question, there have already been published reports, or speculation rather, to the effect that some of these "millenarian" groups could in fact be Iranian agents. See the earlier February 08 post here called "Mahdism: Heaven on Earth for Cops".

Cheney, as it happens, has just in the last few days started talking to his right-wing media enablers about Iran as a particular danger because of Shiite millenarian beliefs, according to Dan Froomkin, who complains the press isn't paying attention.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Reidar Visser said...

Good points Badger, especially because the assumed “cross-party” agreement on support for Maliki’s “anti-militia” stand was a centrepiece of the Crocker/Petraeus discourse during the US Congress hearings last week. As a matter of fact, right now the idea of “restricting arms to the hands of the state”, as the Iraqis put it, is an empty phrase which all Iraqi politicians sign up to when it suits them. As the Sadrists pointed out, most of the parties that endorsed the idea maintain militias themselves; the Sadrists, for their part, used precisely the same language back in December when one of their members presented a proposal for dealing with the militia problem in Basra.

4:32 AM  
Blogger Archimedes39 said...

Any comment on the murder in Najaf of Riyad al-Nuri? Are we now seeing IDF-style "targeted assassination" by the US military or its Iraqi surrogates? Is the plan to force the hand of the JAM and allied militias, bring them into combat, then do a "shock and awe" campaign, a "final solution", as it were, to the "renegade" al-Sadr group "problem"?
As the "surge successes" are now deeply fragmenting, one sees more and more of "it's the Iranian's fault", and directly tying M al-Sadr to the al-Quds Brigades, and other IRGC groups, with the not-unobvious subtext that in order to eradicate all anti-occupation Shi'ite forces, the US inevitably must take the battle across the border into Iran. Whatever the motives, it's patently clear that the US strategy in Iraq is to further provoke Shi'ites, foster inter- and intra-communal violence, and therefore claim it can't leave because of all the resultant turmoil will leave Iraq open to a predatory Iranian influence, if not outright takeover.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Siun said...

Archimedes ... nodding, there was a report last night that A l Sadr's office was outraged that the US forces launched a renewed attack on Sadr City right after Al Sadr had called for calm:


Witnesses and media in the heavily Shiite Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, home to the cleric's power base in the capital, reported heavy fighting between U.S.-backed Iraqi troops and al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia.

The witnesses said U.S. aircraft had been bombarding the area for hours, and media reported rockets slamming into houses and many casualties.


http://www.tiny.cc/oy7CZ

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

siun, via RTI

about 50 American tanks tried to attack from 3 sides but the fighters managed to destroy 5 tanks, three tanks near Jamila Market [which means that the fights are still at same place for 4-5 days], two tanks at the Sadr-City borders with Ur neighborhood.

annie

12:09 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Kuwaiti paper AlQabas puts it together this way:

"[The main fighting yesterday involved] advance of American tanks and Iraqi armed forces yesterday night to Sadr city, where there was a gigantic fight, and before that the assassination of the director of the Sadr office in Najaf, and in the meantime [we] confirmed the return of Moqtada AlSadr to Najaf from Iran..."

Whether there were actually 50 American tanks involved in this, (as the RTI link says) in any event this was a major pitched battle, not just some spinoff from a law-enforcement operation. Also: the way this (and other accounts) reads, the plain reading of the events is that of a series of provocations including the assassination and the multi-tank attack on Sadr City, moreover the assassination took place just after the return to Najaf of Moqtada himself. And as Siun also mentioned, there is the act that this comes right after the conciliatory remarks by Sadr.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Archimedes39 said...

And now the "mysterious" bombing at the Hoseyniyeh Shohada mosque in Shiraz, Iran, where no one group has yet claimed responsibility. News agencies are talking up possible "Wahabist" or "radical Sunni" perps,
due to the nature of the cleric's particular address for the gathering...coming on the heels of the Najaf assassination, a coincidence, or...?

7:58 PM  
Blogger FDChief said...

The thing I don't "get" about this is...do the Malikists and the U.S. really think that they can kill enough poor Shia to somehow fracture the group of people in Iraq currently represented by the Sadrists?

I mean, that's a LOT of poor people, and given the economics of Iraq there have got to be more poor and disenfranchised every day. What I get from the public statements of the guy is that, less the 12-er theology, Sadr is basically Juan Peron in a turban. He represents the poor, and those Shia who a) don't want partition masquerading as "federalism" and b) want the occupiers out.

These don't seem like really shocking things for a poor Shia Iraqi to believe...in other words, I suspect the JAM is what the JAM is because of what poor Shias believe, not who Sadr is.

If that IS the case, then headhunting the Sadrist leaders will just peel back another layer of people who believe the same thing, leaving all sides where they started except for all the dead people.

My suspicion is that this is a Bush deal: I read the guy as sincerely believing the "great man" theory of history. He thought Iraq was Iraq because Saddam was Saddam...given his well known inability to learn anything from anything, I suspect he thinks the same way about Sadr - and will try the same idiotic tricks.

8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All this killing in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran can be laid at the foot of the Bush regime in Washington, but since no one is retaliating the U.S. takes for granted that it can get away with murder.

The day retaliation begins directly on U.S. soil, will be the day when the U.S. will have a Sword at its throat. After that things will really begin to boil. Make that happen and the picnic will be over for the U.S. So people of the world get ready to strike at the heart of the U.S. Imperialist in the U.S.

3:53 AM  
Blogger badger said...

FDChief, that's mostly right, but it's not just the leaders they go after--think of Hamas and he siege of Gaza.

5:21 AM  
Blogger badger said...

anonymous at 3:53: That's not the answer. Group-retaliation is what keeps these processes going, not what ends them.

5:39 AM  

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