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al Sadr forming militia group to aid Hezbollah
Posted by: McQ on Monday, July 24, 2006

No, really:
A senior member of Muqtada al-Sadr's Iraqi Shi'ite militia, the Mahdi Army, says the group is forming a squadron of up to 1,500 elite fighters to go to Lebanon.

The plan reflects the potential of the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah to strengthen radical elements in Iraq and neighboring countries and to draw other regional players into the Lebanon conflict.

"We are choosing the men right now," said Abu Mujtaba, who works in the loosely organized following of radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. "We are preparing the right men for the job."
This is one of those "please, may we help you get there moments" for the US and Iraq. Of course they won't, but nothing would be better than to see the Mahdi Army, as it calls itself, get its rear-end kicked. While coalition forces have had to tip-toe, relatively speaking, around the Mahdi Army in Iraq, no such constraints would be on the IDF.

It is incredible, sometimes to understand how deeply the hate of Israel goes, even, in this case, essentially uniting deeply divided rivals:
A rival Sunni cleric, Abdul Rahman al-Duleimi, said he knew about the militia's recruiting effort and that he had appealed to his own followers to fight Israel.

"We know that the Mahdi militia is on this issue since the Lebanon-Israeli crisis started," said Sheik al-Duleimi, whose house in Baghdad contains a large portrait of former ruler Saddam Hussein. The cleric is not related to Adnan al-Dulaimi, also a Sunni cleric and leader of a major faction in parliament.

Sheik al-Duleimi said that during prayers on Friday, he "called the people to volunteer, and if they cannot, they should donate anything. I called on people to donate even one bullet, because maybe this one bullet will kill one Israeli."
Says al Sadr:
Sheik al-Sadr has openly voiced support for Iran — Hezbollah's main sponsor — and on Friday urged Iraqis to stand behind Lebanon to confront the "common enemy," Israel.

"We say no, a thousand nos to Israel and its terrorism, and everybody should know that we in Iraq will not stay quiet against the rampaging Zionists," Agence France-Presse quoted Sheik al-Sadr as saying in a statement issued from his home in the southern Shi'ite holy city of Najaf.
This is the shift in sentiment that has long been coming, from condemnation of Hezbollah in various Arab states to now talking about overt support for the terrorists and against Israel. In particular, it is a chance and an opportunity for those like al Sadr to demonstrate their power and gain influence. And, of course, increased power and prestige for al Sadr in Iraq means the same for Iran, by proxy. As Anthony Cordesman says, " "He gains power and status as a person seen as willing to take such risks."

So how does one ensure that those props don't come to al Sadr. Well consider this point:
Mr. Mujtaba said the Mahdi militia was figuring out how to get its fighters to Lebanon without the help of the Iraqi government.

"People have volunteered ... but as this is not the government, we cannot use planes. We need to go by land," he said.

The most direct land route would be across Iraq's western Anbar province to Jordan or Syria. Because of border restrictions, Jordan would be an unlikely crossing point, Iraqis said. Syria is an important backer of Hezbollah but may not want to be seen as helping Mahdi militia fighters reach Lebanon.
Sounds like a job for the new Iraqi army. Deploy, surround, disarm. Or, alternatively, let them go, but don't let them come back. In whatever way this is handled, the government of Iraq must make it clear it is in charge and armed militias are not welcome to form groups for foreign ventures and cross their borders at will. It is also a perfect opportunity to put al Sadr and Iran in their place as it pertains to Iraq.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Hmmm. I don’t buy your "the U.S. has had to tiptoe while Israel can kick some heinie" thesis — this the old canard that "we could have beaten them if we hadn’t had one hand tied behind our back." The U.S. has free reign to do whatever is necessary in Iraq. Any failures have been of our own strategic and tactical shortcomings.

I agree it’s an opportunity for the Iraqi government to assert its will, but of course making a show of power by restraining fighters from going against Israel may not be a popular move. It could be a real double bind here... Let’s just hope the Israelis wrap things up quickly.

Written By: Mithras
Hmmm. I don’t buy your "the U.S. has had to tiptoe while Israel can kick some heinie" thesis — this the old canard that "we could have beaten them if we hadn’t had one hand tied behind our back." The U.S. has free reign to do whatever is necessary in Iraq. Any failures have been of our own strategic and tactical shortcomings.
Israel isn’t operating under any constraints as it pertains to keeping the unrest in Iraq to a low simmer. We are.

So it doesn’t have to hold back against this militia. It can bring the world on them without hesitation, without restraint and without any of the concerns a coalition move against them in Iraq.
Written By: McQ
Hmmm. I don’t buy your "the U.S. has had to tiptoe while Israel can kick some heinie" thesis — this the old canard that "we could have beaten them if we hadn’t had one hand tied behind our back." The U.S. has free reign to do whatever is necessary in Iraq. Any failures have been of our own strategic and tactical shortcomings.
The U.S. may or may not have "free reign" to do whatever in Iraq. The U.S. military certainly does not.
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Heh... wonder if Sadr’s stand for Iran and Hizbollah will make any of his rivals stand for Israel - or at least against Hizbollah?
Written By: Dave
URL: http://
Hardly a day goes by that I don’t regret US forces not having killed that sonofab*tch Al Sadr. According to Iraq the Model he’s really only 25 years old—a punk kid. I’m convinced he’s a sociopath, and his whole life has been one long truck upon the fame of his father. He was born and raised in Iran, and is the Mullah’s highest placed agent in the Iraqi political scene. Here’s hoping for a fiery death for every sycophant he sends to Lebannon.

Written By: Peter Jackson
I suspect the smarter heads in the Iraqi government are taking to heart the lesson that Lebanon’s predicament teaches. Ben-Gurion knew it in June of 1948. King Hussein knew it in September of 1970. Even if they have similar aims, even if it’s unpopular and/or painful to oppose them, you cannot allow independent armed groups to operate in your territory.

btw, I hate to nitpick but it’s ’free rein’ (like with a horse) not ’free reign.’
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
Nit pick away, Achillea. I have certain things that bother me as well ... for instance the use of "instantaneously" when "instantly" would do quite well. For whatever reason that drives me up a wall.

OK, now back to our regular on-topic discussion. ;)
Written By: McQ
Like Hezbollah, Sadr and his people are part of the government. And like Hezbollah, Sadr and his people have their own militia. And like Hezbollah, this militia is responsible for civilian and American military deaths.

So the question becomes this: If Bush says it is ok for Israel, which currently does not occupy Lebanon, at least not in any significant sense, to bomb Hezbollah back to the stone age, to literally wipe it off the map, why aren’t we - who occupy Iraq - doing the same thing to Sadr and the Mahdi army? After all, the Mahdi army is more of a threat to American interests right now than Hezbollah.

I know Bush’s foreign policy is not supposed to make any sense. But c’mon now.
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
While I disapprove of the existence at all of Sadr’s militia, to the best of my knowledge they have not gone around attacking a neighboring country as Hezballah has done. They are a problem, but a purely internal one. If you want an analogy to claim US hypocrisy with, try the Kurdish PKK and their incursions into Turkey.

And don’t say I never give you anything.
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://

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