Sunday, April 13, 2008

The War on Sadr takes shape

Some may think Robert Gates' remarks on Friday about who is and is not an "enemy of the United States" (see prior post) was one of those cosmetic in-one-ear-and-out-the-other things, but that is not how Moqtada alSadr took it, as you can see from this excerpt from his reply, in a statement his office released on Saturday:
There will not come a day when you (plural) are not my enemy, to the last drop of blood in my body, and anyone who takes you as a friend, or as a sponsor, or as a reconciliator or as a negotiating partner, him I will cut off until the day of judgment.
Needless to say, the references to those who take Gates "as a sponsor, or as a reconciliator" and so on, refer to the Maliki administration and anyone else who deals with the Americans. So Moqtada not only took the threat for what it was, but attributed it to the whole America-GreenZone group. And so it was that on Sunday, Maliki's spokesman Ali Dabbagh responded in turn, and in contrast to Moqtada's religious tone, Dabbagh used some oddly familiar-sounding secular rhetoric. He said to reporters
The security forces will continue, without any leniency, in battle with the militias in Sadr City, until such time as it is completely purged of gunmen...we will not leave the place until we can guarantee the security of Sadr City...I cannot tell you how many days or how many months that will take, but what I can tell you is that our forces will not leave until the job is done.
Very Bush-like, as you can see, and the battle is joined.

What is important to realize is that (1) the Maliki administration, instead of leaving the Basra campaign as something to be eventually forgotten about, has instead explicitly locked itself into a military confrontation with the Sadrists, and (2) the decision to take this course was made in Washington, and the real declaration of war was the Gates comment. Since this is something that risks reigniting fitna in the country, it is important to realize where the decision was made to ignite this.

Because once again, the pundits and the corporate media together will be working to create the impression, as so often in the past, that this is another case of Iraqis chronically and perpetually at each others throats, with the American forces only trying to help sort things out. *

There was also an escalation in the anti-Iranian rhetoric in connection with all of this on the weekend, the lead mouthpiece for that part of the campaign being Stephen Hadley, on Fox News on Sunday. In remarks picked up by AlQuds alArabi among others, Hadley is quoted to the effect he thinks Iraq is in a position to bring "diplomatic pressure" to bear on Iran with regard to arming and training fighters in Iraq, now that they "better understand" Iran's role. He didn't explain what he meant, but it was clear that the blame-Iran theme is being developed hand in hand with the theme of fighting the "militias in Sadr City", "until the job is done."

Meanwhile, a reporter for the Bahrain paper AlAkhbar alKhleej says he learned from Iraqi Interior Ministry sources (Sadr sympathizers, as you will see) that the Supreme Council (Hakim's group) is getting ready for "surprise" American inspections on the political-parties/armed-militias issue. He wrote on Sunday:
Sources in the Iraqi Interior Ministry said directives have been issued by the leadership of the Supreme Council to all of the Badr Organization offices throughout Iraq, to hide their heavy weapons, and to leave light weapons in the hands of those groups tasked with protection of Badr Organization offices and senior people in the Supreme Council. The sources said the directives ordered the hiding of mortar shells and RBG explosives in secret places, in expectation that the American occupation forces will be conducting surprise raids to disarm militias, according to a plan the Iraqi government is going to try to execute, with the aim essentially of getting rid of the weapons held by the Mahdi Army, under cover of disarming [all] militias as a condition of their participating in the provincial-council elections.

The sources said the hiding of weapons has been done in coordination with senior people in the Interior Ministry, where representatives of the Supreme Council work in top positions in the security divisions. And the sources said 1500 representatives of the aforementioned organization have been added to the Interior Ministry and its security agencies recently.
The sources also told the reporter that many in the Badr Corp leadership have left for Iran recently, on the pretext of visiting their families there, but in fact so as not to be around at the time of the coming surprise American raids.

* Cole offers us a fine example of this, reporting this morning (Monday April 14) that Moqtada "slapped away the hand that was offered to him by US Secretary of State Robert Gates..." as if the US role was something like that of a teacher trying to calm an unruly student in a special ed class.


Blogger LJansen said...

FYI: "America Deceived" is not banned from Amazon. Is Anonymous above the author or something? It got some really bad reviews.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding your comment about how Cole and the corporate media represent the situation in Iraq as Americans valiantly stepping in to help the fratricidal Iraqis who are always at each others' throats..

Do you think that Cole (who is highly educated and informed) realizes that the impetus for social fragmentation and chaos is coming from the US, but is choosing to represent the situation in the way you highlight, in order to garner domestic support for the war?

Or do you think that Cole (and the more informed of the American corporate media are simply caught in the vortex of this imperialistic framework, and can't help but represent the situation in Iraq as you describe it, because they are blinded by the narrative the US is so forcefully trying to push?

10:16 AM  
Blogger badger said...

I can't answer all of that, but I'm sure the propaganda folks are not themselves blinded in any way. On the contrary, these little touches that mean so much (note the CSM has a piece on its website today also with the "hand outstretched..." theme) are very artfully done, aiming as they do at setting the emotional tone for people.

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The American neo-cons & Israeli Zionists are like peas in a pod--they are lying, treacherous war-mongers who will send of OTHER PEOPLE'S KIDS to die in wars of THEIR making, for THEIR OWN benefit.

9/11 was an inside job designed to justify these tactics in the Middle East! Even WITH 9/11 enough Americans know it's all about oil; can you imagine if that pre-text (9/11) had never occurred?! So OF COURSE they (U.S. & Israel) had to make it happen.

They are devoted followers of the "thinker" Leo Strauss, who advocated that rulers keep the real truth to themselves while dishing out lies to the masses in order to achieve their goals. Don't believe all this "Muslims are murderous fanatics" BS--it's the U.S. & Israel who are behind the current wars and pushing for new ones, and it's the U.S. & Israel who will quite possibly push the entire globe into World War 3 (probably with another false-flag attack to be blamed on Iran). These rulers are power-mad sociopaths and they need to be stopped at all costs

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find more interesting what Cole goes on to say after the quote you cited:

The Iraqi cabinet prepared a draft of a law forbidding parties with militias from running in the provincial elections scheduled for October. The measure is actually in an ironic way a victory for the Sadr Movement at which it is aimed, since originally Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had intimated that he could exclude the Sadrists from running by fiat. They pointed out that only parliament could bar parties from running. The question is whether, with summer fast approaching, parliament will be able to achieve a quorum for passing the bill into law, and whether al-Maliki has the votes to put it through. The bill is the height of hypocrisy, since all major parties in parliament have paramilities, especially al-Maliki's current main partner, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (see yesterday's posting on it and its strong relationship to Iran). ISCI denials that Badr any longer exists or has been wholly incorporated into government security forces are a Big Lie.

8:07 PM  

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