Friday, August 08, 2008

Dhari speaks up for the Sadrists

Ladybird at obtained a short video clip of the speech of Harith al-Dhari to the AMSI general meeting in Damascus last week (see also the prior post), and she prepared a transcript of the remarks, where he says the following:
They say that this government has retreated from its sectarianism, namely by striking the Sadrist trend, to provide a "balance" between striking the Sadrist trend on the one hand, and striking Sunnis in various areas on the other.

We say: They are throwing sand in our eyes. This is still a government of sectarian allocations. They struck the Sadr trend because the Sadr trend had come to represent pressure on it, and had become a strong competitor in the coming elections--and because foreign interests from here and there wanted to clip the claws of this movement, because in this movement there are nationalists [wataniun: and in his delivery Dhari dwells on the word] who do not want the partitioning of Iraq; who oppose the occupation and all that goes with it. And that is the reason they struck the Sadr trend, despite what had been done by some of the trend's renegades, some of the sellouts, some of the ignorant, did to their brothers in an earlier period.

Ladybird underlines the importance of this, and adds that so far there isn't any report of this on the AMSI site or apparently anywhere else either. She thinks there could be AMSI-Sadrist talks going on in Syria.

Meanwhile, in a statement read before Friday prayers in Kufa, Sadrist spokesman Salah Obeidi said Moqtada al-Sadr will dissolve the Mahdi Army if the Americans start to withdraw their forces from Iraq according to a defined time-schedule. He also said, according to, that there are feelings that the American forces are serious about setting a time-schedule for their withdrawal from Iraq, and such a move would change the Mahdi Army into a cultural organization, in addition to retaining its military units.


Blogger Joel Wing said...

all these recent statements by Sadr and his followers are simply attempts to stay relevant after the setbacks dealt to them by Maliki's crackdowns. The Sadrists are reeling and trying to play up their nationalism and anti-occupation stance. The problem is Maliki has stolen their thunder with his demanding a timetable for a US withdrawal in the security negotiations with Washington. The Sadrists can say they'll disarm if the US pulls out, but it'll be Maliki who'll be able to say he was the one who got them to leave in the first place. I've got a couple pieces on Sadr's decline and Maliki's campaigning on my blog musings on Iraq if anyone is interested.

9:54 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Just looking at your sources, don't you really mean: "The US corporate media, Long Wars Journal and other GreenZone sources say 'the Sadrists are reeling', etcetera...

10:34 PM  
Blogger Joel Wing said...

1) I don't read Arabic so I have to stick to the English language press. I do read English language Arab sources like Voices of Iraq, Alsumaria, etc.

In the 3 stories I have on Sadr and Maliki here's the breakdown of my sources:

US MSM – 20 (WaPo, McClatchy, NYT, LA Times, CSM, Chi Trib, SF Chron)
News services – 9 (AP, Reuters, AFP)
Think Tanks – 9 (CFR, Brookings, Jamestown, International Crisis Group)
Arab – 6 (Alsumaria, Gulf News, National, Al Alam, Al Jazeera)
LongWar Journal – 5
IraqSlogger – 2
Blogs – 2 (Missing Links)
Brit MSM – 1 (Independent)
Monsters & Critics - 1

2) I think there are enough reports from different sources that the Sadrists are really hurting. That number of 60,000 followers was at the heigt of the sectarian war of 2006-2007. Since then a lot of those have fallen to the wayside. I would guesstimate that they had 10,000-5,000 fighters when Basra started in March. In the recent round-ups they might have lost half of their force if not more.

3) I think some of their constituency really is turning on them for a number of reasons such as not needing them anymore to protect them from Sunnis, resentment against protection rackets, extortion, etc. they use to fund themselves, etc.

4) If the U.S. does agree to pull out combat troops who's going to get credit for it? Sadr who has had weekly protests against the security negotiations or Maliki who actually got the U.S. to agree to a withdrawal? Didn't one of Sadr's recent statements say that if the government got the U.S. to pull out they would support Maliki? Seems like the PM has the upper hand there to me.

7:16 AM  
Blogger badger said...

To the extent a movement is under military attack, it will be hurting, yes. But I think the sweeping nature of your speculations go way beyond what is justified by the one-sided nature of your sources. If you read 10 copies of todays New York Times are you ten times more convinced of its says? The sectarian interpretation of the military, the thinktanks and so on already has its media apparatus in place. Do they really need your help?

This post is about acknowledgement by a major Sunni resistance figure of the nationalist bona fides of a Shiite movement. You're just regurgitating, not listening.

--Badger, fair and balanced

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few words concerning sources:

First, it's good to read as broadly as possible from both or all sides; keeping in mind the bias of each particular source. The New York Times and their cousins in the "Western" MSM are shills for the Empire. Understanding this and equipping oneself with a broader and deeper understanding of the issue should leave one with the ability to flick out the obvious Empire Shilling bits and obtain something of value "between the lines". Being illiterate myself in the Arabic language, I find sites like this one and Roads to Iraq, both of which have proven themselves credible over the long run, to be of great value in my striving to understand the situation in Iraq, and what one can expect in the future regarding Iraq's resistance to The Empire.

I do not believe that Sadr is the one to bring the Shiites into the National Resistance. He's to partisan (didn't even some of his top commanders tell him that he can't lead a national resistance with a partisan name like the Mahdi Army) and, although I can understand it on his personal level, his stance on the Baath Party is unreasonable, all things considered. Also, the "Personality Cult" aspect of his movement can only lead to another dictatorship if successful. In this case a partisan Theocracy. It is my opinion that Sadr should lead the poor Shia in a civil movement; perhaps as an important segment of a strong and independent and vitally needed labor union.

As for the future effectiveness of the Mahdi Army in the resistance; The Mahdi Army has been traveling a very long learning curve. A proper thousand man guerilla force is far more effective against an Empire's mechanized professional storm troopers than sixty thousand clueless radicals standing on the street corners in their distinctive black uniforms trying to say that they're the police resisting the occupying Empirial Army. That seems to be the direction that Sadr is moving now. However, for the reasons stated, I do not believe that Sadr is the one to lead any new and more effective stage of resistance from the Shia community.

Just a few brief thoughts from a Bolivarian. Please do correct and enlighten me where it might benefit my understanding

1:03 PM  
Blogger Dancewater said...

over the last few months, there has been numerous photos on Yahoo News of demonstrations by Shi'ite followers of Sadr. You can tell they support Sadr because they are carrying his photo. I would guess his followers number in the millions.

1:19 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Cutter, those are all good, cautionary points about the Sadr movement. As you note, they do seem to be moving a little in the direction you're talking about. And don't forget, if a multi-sect front does finally come to be, then by definition the philosophy would not be to have one sect or one guy running the country. A lot remains to be seen.

What is objectionable is this recurring idea that the Americans are able to somehow pluck out and eliminate out any movement that opposes it...

2:37 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This post is about acknowledgement by a major Sunni resistance figure of the nationalist bona fides of a Shiite movement. You're just regurgitating, not listening.

Love the irony in this comment!

Whenever I see references to the possibility of a cross-sectarian "nationalist resistance" in this blog, for some reason I'm reminded of Linus talking about the Great Pumpkin.

Except that Linus didn't affect such a haughty tone in talking about his fantasies.

4:05 PM  
Blogger JoshSN said...

I've been paying close attention to the recent events in South Ossetia.

One source I have is Russia Today, a 24-hour English-language news station.

At first, none of the facts from Russia, comments from its leaders, from pro-Russian news sources, matched what Georgia was saying. Georgia, though, has a much, much smaller "information" office.

It's really broadened my perspective about nationalist propaganda. I still don't know what to believe about how hostilities actually started.

4:09 PM  
Blogger badger said...

JSN, you've probably already seen the thread on this with a lot of source-links at, and there are also a lot of useful links in a thread on the topic at

As for Swopa, don't mind him. He has been ridiculing Iraqi nationalism for quite some time now. It is one of his hobbies.

6:24 PM  
Blogger Joel Wing said...

Well, we'll just have to see how things play out to see who's right about Sadr. I can only go off of what I read and I do try to read as much as possible and base my writing about it. I'll just repeat that I have read enough to make an argument that he is losing support amongst the Shiite masses and even within his own movement.

Whenver the elections happen will probably be the easiest way to see how much Sadr's got. Right now I can't really see him gaining much. I think the SIIC is going to hold onto their provinces and add Basra. No idea what will happen in Maysan, leaving Baghdad as the only place that Sadr can pick up more seats.

6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aloha, Badger! I'm surprised at Swopa's comment! I've read many of his posts at Needlenose and FDL and he's usually spot on... Btw, could you take a gander at my latest post and tell me what ya think... Mahalo! 8-)

6:32 PM  
Blogger badger said...

ctuttle--I think you're right about the timetable/agreement hype being mainly a show for Maliki's Iraqi audience. (But there's also been quite a bit of hype here, which I don't know what to make of. It could just be the Dems prematurely seizing on something they think will be good for the campaign. Then there's the "Maliki an overnight hero stealing the resistance's thunder" meme, which seems to me kind of silly, but...)

Then there's the Time (webversion anyway) article from today that you quoted from, and that's where I really don't know what to think. What does it mean, Petraeus taking Sadr's "offer" seriously, as told to us by Time magazine, no less?

On Dhari, AMSI and the Kirkuk roundup, all I can say is that as you have highlighted, RoadstoIraq does a hell of a lot of great digging, and some of it should be much more widely cited than it is. (Of course when it concerns Iraqi nationalism directly or indirectly, you do run up against the Great Pumpkin argument, but that's something we all face...)

It's a great post and you covered a lot of ground. I hope you follow up and figure out for instance what's behind that Time article.

7:35 PM  
Blogger badger said...

motown, that's fair enough, and I shouldn't have raised my voice with you. The thing is: As we've seen right in this here thread, the whole idea of a national focus, of the kind that Sadr, Dhari and others talk about, is not only completely shut out of the corporate media and the thinktank bloviation world, but also seems to be something of a redline to some, to be ridiculed whenever it is brought up. So whatever you may think about the political implications of the military campaign against the Sadr trend and the Sadr trend's response, you have to be careful not to swallow the entire "Iraq is entirely sectarian"/"nationalism is all rhetoric" koolaid. That's what I think anyway. I think if you're only reading stuff in English, you should try and make allowances for phenomena like that. Otherwise you get sucked into it.

8:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mahalo, Badger! I appreciate your time and praise! I'll keep my eyes peeled on the Betrayus angle! 8-)

8:05 PM  
Blogger annie said...

jsn I still don't know what to believe about how hostilities actually started.

just read the news.


Russian troops poured into South Ossetia on Friday, hours after Georgia launched a large-scale offensive aimed at restoring control over the region which broke away after a war in the early 1990s.

tho i would quibble over their framing of 'restoring'. it should say 'aimed at controlling the region'.

Russia backs the separatist government in South Ossetia and sent in tanks and troops on Friday in response to pro-Western Georgia's military offensive to take back the province which broke away in the early 1990s after a separatist war.



Tensions over Georgia's rebel territory of South Ossetia exploded on Friday when Georgia tried to assert control over the region with tanks and rockets, and Russia sent forces to repel the assault.

The president of the Georgian breakaway region was quoted Friday by Interfax news agency as saying that about 1,400 people have died as a result of "Georgian aggression" against South Ossetia.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Fascinating how it is that some people are so invested in insisting on the sectarian model for Iraq, and denying Iraqi nationalism.

2. It seems to me that the groups in Iraq most consistently overlooked by the U.S> media, analysts, and "analysts" have been 1) the Iraqi Parliament, the only body in the "government" that was even remotely chosen by the Iraqi people, and 2) Iraqi trade unions.

1:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

badger said...
What is objectionable is this recurring idea that the Americans are able to somehow pluck out and eliminate out any movement that opposes it...

It is indeed maddening how the Empire labels anyone who resist their bombings and invasions and occupations, or other CIA interference, as terrorist, or incredibly, "anti-American radical", as if that is sufficient in itself to identify them as "evil". It's all fodder for the US American sheep to keep them compliantly deluded about the true nature of their empire and the reality of what it's war machine does to people around the world to keep the US sheep in bread and circus and supportive. To support this immoral madness, the US sheep have been trained for generations to believe in their god ordained superiority over other peoples and that somehow this makes them righteous when they kill off a few million "funny little foreigners" for their own good. Go figure. I don't think you'll find many others around the globe buying into that corrupted theory. Unfortunately, however, the only thing that will cause the Empire to withdraw it's storm troopers from any given locality is for the locals to cause the US sheep enough pain that they insist that the troops be withdrawn. It is for this reason that I give the maneuvering inside the "Green Zone" only passing interest. If Maliki or anyone else thinks they can stay in the Green Zone Quisling "Government" and get too uppity for the Empire's plans, they will be eliminated, one way or another.

badger said...
if a multi-sect front does finally come to be, then by definition the philosophy would not be to have one sect or one guy running the country. A lot remains to be seen.

I've been telling people for five years that a "multi-sect", or as I say it, the Iraqi people, will eventually unite and push the occupation out. It's been a long and grim journey as the Empire applied it's well established and well worn "divide and conquer" strategy. The best I can tell from here, even at the worst of the sectarian mayhem and murder, less than one percent of the Iraqi people were actually involved in committing the acts of sectarian mayhem. The vast majority of Iraqis never wanted it. Nonetheless, that strategy caused the death of many thousands of Iraqis and turned Baghdad, and other parts of Iraq, into walled in prisons. The empire calls this success, based solely on the issue that fewer Empire Storm Troopers are being killed, for now. And the compliant US sheep say, "Ain't that nice - hurrah - we won - ho hum - what's Britney Spears up to.

I've lost faith in Sadr. He started out on his father's name and a small charity organization. He gained his credentials in the resistance by his stunt in Najaf and his credentials as a Nationalist by his support of Fallujah when they were under attack. It's been a slow, downward slide for Sadr ever since. The Mahdi Army was credited with almost mystical powers in keeping Sadr City safe from the violence. However, when Sadr joined the Green Zone Quisling Government, Sadr City became a primary target of the bombers. Then, Sadr, from personal weakness, let his people get involved in the horrible sectarian killings and the harassment of Shia citizens over fundamentalist BS. Now, the myth of Mehdi Army invincibility has been shattered when Sadr tried facing his ridiculously formatted resistance army against US air power. The way I see it, Sadr is a failure and has managed to keep the support he still has only due to a lack of a viable alternative for the Shia Iraqi patriots, so far.

Al-Dhari is impressive in his own right. And, this is not the first time I've seen him call for Iraqi unity amongst the sects and ethnicities. Sadr has so far failed to answer that call, due to his fear that there are Baathist everywhere. I believe he's right on that, but, even if one accepts all the claims of excess and brutality by Saddam and his clan without question, it still leaves millions of Iraqis who believe in the ideals behind the Baath Party mission statement and platform. Plus, those guys could really teach Sadr a few things about how to run a proper underground guerrilla resistance. However, besides being an admirer of the superb resistance operation that the Iraqi Baath Party put together and run for five years, not being an Iraqi, I realize that I might be missing something important on this subject.


Let me sum up by saying, again, that al-Dhari is very impressive in his own right and that I believe he sees Sadr basically the same as I do. I believe that his latest reach out to the Sadrists was an attempt to talk around Sadr to some of his more rational and competent Nationalist commanders.

Thanks again for the work you do here.

4:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reuters made a little slip and then had to scramble to correct it. My colleague got a screen shot before it vanishes from Reuters' site. Which he promptly uploaded Flickr.

I love the tone of :

" In the report (Iraq calls ...) Please clarify that the time horizon in the title and first and second paragraphs, is not a timetable. "

Sometimes the MSM tell the truth despite themselves .... :-)

7:38 AM  
Blogger annie said...

suhaila. could you translate?

11:28 AM  
Blogger badger said...

annie, that's all it says: It's headed "Correction: Iraq calls for a clear time horizon regarding the American forces" and then the "please clarify..." line. It's followed by the corrected version, that was in fact published in Arabic by Reuters, with the phrase "very clear time horizon" in the first paragraph, and "time horizon" in the second.

Another funny thing is that in Reuters' English-language version of the story, this appears as "timeline", not time horizon. Maybe they corrected the Arabic but "forgot" to correct the English? It's particularly significant because in the second graph they contrast what Zebari is demanding with Bush's agreement to talk about "horizons". In other words, making the Iraqi position appear tougher than it is.

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Suhaila's off-line Annie it's nearly 22:30 in Irak and she has kids to look after.

Shamelessly copied and pasted from Omar's translation at the link, (because I have kids to look after too :-) )


في الخبر (العراق يطلب ...) يرجي توضيح أنه أفق زمني في العنوان والفقرتين الأولى والثانية وليس جدولا زمنيا.


" In the report (Iraq calls ...) Please clarify that the time horizon in the title and first and second paragraphs, is not a timetable."

The English version on Alertnet has this as it's starter:

" Iraq demands "very clear" U.S. troop timeline
10 Aug 2008 16:34:17 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Iraq demands "very clear timeline" for U.S. withdrawal

* Foreign minister says deal on U.S. presence "very close"

* At least 15 killed, 71 wounded in attacks

By Mohammed Abbas

BAGHDAD, Aug 10 (Reuters) - The United States must provide a "very clear timeline" to withdraw its troops from Iraq as part of an agreement allowing them to stay beyond this year, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Sunday.

It was the strongest public assertion yet that Iraq is demanding a timeline. U.S. President George W. Bush has long resisted setting a firm schedule for pulling troops out of Iraq, although last month the White House began speaking of a general "time horizon" and "aspirational goals" to withdraw.

Iraq demands "very clear" U.S. troop timeline

Note use of the expression "timeline" in the English Headline and first two paragraphs, not sure what to make of that, sloppy editing?? Or a translator's quirk??? Going to and from Arabic can be a bit of pest as I'm sure Badger will confirm.

12:31 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Erdla, our comments crossed. Looks to me like Reuters, having corrected the Arabic version, forgot, or "forgot" to correct the English version.

Funnier and funnier: Marc Lynch (!), tagging an AlArabiya version of the same story, translates the expression "time horizon" in the AlArabiya headline as "timeline". So now his readers also think Zebari, the Kurd, is being really tough on the Americans on this issue!

12:41 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:06 PM  
Blogger badger said...

I deleted something by Swopa, which had nothing to do with Iraq

6:09 PM  
Blogger badger said...

By the way, there is also an AP story (link at JWN) that quotes Zebari as demanding a "very clear timeline", also apparently the same remark about a very clear "ufuq": ("horizon", meaning the same thing in Arabic as in English, namely the range of vision. We'll have to update our dictionaries...

6:55 PM  

<< Home