Saturday, March 29, 2008

Maliki and the US fear the emergence of another round of national-resistance

Remarks reported this morning by Maliki, a US State Dept official, and the Iraqi Defense Minister indicate they wish they could put this genie back in the bottle, and the reason appears to be a general anxiety to the effect this could turn into a national resistance movement.

AlHayat reports this morning (Saturday March 29) the following:
Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki--who extended his deadline for the militias to surrender their arms in exchange for monetary rewards to April 8--was intent on stressing that he did not invite the coalition forces in Iraq to participate in the Basra operations, and persons close to Maliki justified this by explaining the government's desire not to turn this fighting into a confrontation between the resistance and the occupation forces. In addition to confirming the Iraqi forces' ability in the field.
In other words, and it seems quite logical, Maliki is becoming concerned that what was supposed to be a mopping-up operation in Basra shows signs of turning into a nationwide uprising against the occupation forces (to which he owes his safety and that of his government).

A peculiar remark by a State Department official indicates the same anxiety (also quoted in this same Al-Hayat article):
The director of the Iraq office in the American State Department Richard Schmierer told AlHayat, in this same context, that "the Sadr current has a bright political future, once [there has been] success in the operation in Basra, which is something that targets extremists and criminals who have found refuge in the movement of Moqtada al-Sadr, and legal cover, without his agreement".
The remarks of Iraqi defense minister Abdul Qadr Jassem are in the same vein. According to Azzaman
He said at a press conference in Basra that the armed people in Basra took the Iraqi security forces by surprise. "The Iraqi government imagined that this would be a normal operation. It was surprised by the level of resistance, and was obliged to change its policy and tactics."
These remarks by Maliki, US State Dept, and Iraqi Defense Dept indicate a common concern: Maliki: "Please god, don't let the Iraqi people conclude that I am fighting Iraqis with the help of the US forces". State Dept: "Please god, let this end as a law-enforcement operation in Basra and not as a battle to the death with the Sadrists nation-wide, leading to attacks on the Green Zone and so forth". Iraqi Defense Dept: "Please god, we did not envisage what is happening; we had no idea this might turn into anything other than a mopping-up operation."

The Azzaman summary of military operations throughout the Center and the South contains clear indications that the Sadrists are thinking militarily in national terms: For instance:

(1) The journalist describes yesterday's shelling of the Green Zone this way, after talking about US bombing in Basra and Sadr City: "The armed groups replied to the air strikes in Basra and Sadr City by shelling the Green Zone again, and also by shelling Karada [district of Baghdad] where most of the current Iraqi government officials live."

(2) The journalist describes the Sadrists as having opened up new fronts in South-Central cities in order to ease military pressure against them in Karbala; and

(3) The journalist says the Sadrists have used positions in the South to attack reinforcement convoys coming from Baghdad, to ease pressure on Basra.

In other words, the government, which tried to disguise its attack on the Sadrists as a mere local law-enforcement effort in Basra, is finding that their intended victims are responding to the real threat, not the pretext, and have been able to do so effectively, using region-wide strategies in the South, and counterattacking against the government in Baghdad, so that the US State Department, now obliged to tell its Green Zone people to wear helmets outdoors and to sleep in fortified locations, is now stressing what a lovely group the Sadrists are, and what a bright future lies ahead for them, if we can just clean up this unfortunate situation in Basra.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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4:48 PM  
Blogger badger said...

you guys all have the same name!

6:00 PM  
Blogger annie said...

you guys all have the same name!


sorry, that 2nd one was me. i was too lazy to log in to blogger..

6:43 PM  
Blogger NonArab-Arab said...

Yo Badger, great work as always, wish I had the time to really follow all the details as intensely as you. I have to settle for keeping up with the big picture and anecdotal snippets. You must work as a full-time translator for a government contractor or agency. Able to divulge that in even broad terms?

Anyhow, along the lines of regional military coordination by the Sadrists, there were some quotes in this article that support that as well:

Also, given that I know it's been a hot topic of yours over the years and one we've had some back and forth posts and dialogue on, what signs are you seeing of potential Sadrist-Sunni nationalist alliances emerging? I've noted some links over at Abu Aardvark about AMS issuing statements of support and it sounds like the Sunni parties in parliament aren't so hot on these operations either, but again I just haven't had the time to properly follow more than bits and pieces. Perhaps worth a post of its own if you can dig around and find enough stories that point to an actual storyline. I imagine my natural skepticism and your natural affinity to the theory might cause some divergent interpretations if there are some signs of that possibility emerging, but I greatly respect the work you do to pull out what is being said via the Arab press and would like to see your take.

Thanks again and even if I only seem to pop up at random times, I do appreciate the service you're rendering here!

6:54 PM  
Blogger badger said...

hi there annie

7:07 PM  
Blogger badger said...

yo, non-arab
thank you for the kind remarks. On the question of a cross-sect alliance, I think at this particular point, the snippets and so on that you refer to is really all there is. All I would say right now is that if the awakenings at first looked like just the ticket for pushing the situation in the direction of sectarian conflict, this current War on Sadr is going to push right back in the other direction. Right now it's a very subjective thing, but it seems to me that the Sunni-resistance sites that used to lace their reports with a certain amount of anti-Shiism, are being noticeably more respectful (or some such word) now that they're clearly on the same side. But this isn't something a person wants to go out and bloviate too much about.

No, I don't work for anybody. I've taught myself Arabic in the period since 9/11, gradually easing out of my former self-employment (interpreting Japanese financial news for the Wall Street crowd), and one of the topics I'd like to preach on some day is how it is much less difficult than it seems to learn strange languages, especially with the abundance of materials available on the net. The technology advances, and the potential human uses of it go nowhere. Don't get me going...

7:24 PM  
Blogger NonArab-Arab said...

Cool, thanks. BTW, drop me an email sometime, didn't realize you had a street background. If you'd be interested to talk on a different level about projects going on in life, I'd love to connect.

7:31 PM  
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