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Spooling it up in Baghdad
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, January 13, 2007

President Bush began it with his speech and his announced intention to surge troops into Baghdad and confront those responsible for the sectarian violence in the city.

In answer, one of those responsible for the violence appears to be planning a surge of his own:
US military intelligence sources tell ABC News that large shipments of weapons have been smuggled to Iraqi militia over the past five weeks, including dozens of Iranian supplied EFP's , or Explosive Form Projectiles, highly effective against armored vehicles.

The weapons were sent to Moqtada al Sadr's Shi'a militia, known as "Mahdi’s Army" who control Sadr City, a slum in northern Baghdad with a population of 2 million.

US and Iraqi intelligence units on the ground detected the shipments which are believed to be of Iranian origin. In addition, US military sources tell ABC, Al Sadr has been working on his own "surge," actively recruiting hundreds of residents of Sadr City to supplement the 8 to 10,000 militiamen already believed to make up the "Mahdi Army" in Baghdad.
So we may quickly find both sides embroiled in a pretty hot fight in the slums of Sadr City.
But the increased arms shipments from Iran and intensified recruiting are yet another troubling sign of the difficulties facing the new Bush war plan which Ambassador Negroponte alluded to in his congressional testimony yesterday.

"One has to wonder why it is they (Iran) have increased their supply of these kinds of lethal weapons to extremists Shi'a groups in Iraq, provoking violence, attacks on coalition forces and others. And one wonders if their policy towards Iraq may not have shifted to a more aggressive posture than it has been in the past."
Noting the timing of the arms shipments (the last 5 weeks) this move has obviously been in the pipeline for quite a while. What, in fact, has prompted it? My guess is the Iranians thought the whole game in Iraq changed with the election of a Democratic Congress and that the President's hands were now tied and the US presence in Iraq would begin to diminish as he was forced to withdraw US troops. One of the reasons to believe this is this paragraph from the ABC report:
Bahaa al-Araji, one of Moqtada al-Sadr's representatives in the Iraqi parliament, has told ABC News that the radical Shiite cleric has ordered his Mahdi Army not to attack US forces — even if targeted.
The Mahdi Army cannot win a force-on-force confrontation with the US military and it knows that. It may be able to do so against a heavily inflitrated ISF and it knows that as well.

The reported flow of arms may have been in anticipation of Congress forcing US withdrawal and the Mahdi army further asserting themselves in a play to take control of the country at some point (via real civil war). My guess is both Iran and as Sadr weren't anticipating a US surge in the aftermath of the election. Iran was most assuredly further shocked when its legation office was raided earlier in the week. While it may yield some intelligence, my guess is it was as much a warning as anything else that the game has changed.
“There has been a decision to go after these networks,” Ms. Rice said in an interview with The New York Times in her office on Friday afternoon, before leaving on a trip to the Middle East.

Ms. Rice said Mr. Bush had acted “after a period of time in which we saw increasing activity” among Iranians in Iraq, “and increasing lethality in what they were producing.” She was referring to what American military officials say is evidence that many of the most sophisticated improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s, being used against American troops were made in Iran.
We'll see how they react.

Meanwhile, some interesting reaction from the Iraqis, according to Amir Taheri:
The new Bush plan has raised Iraqi morale to levels not known for a year. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who had been dropping hints he might resign because of sheer fatigue, now says he is committed to restoring Baghdad's sobriquet of Dar al-Salaam (The Abode of Peace) by clearing it of al Qaeda and Saddamite terrorists, militias and death squads.

"The plan that President Bush has announced is based on our plan," says Ali al-Dabbagh, al-Maliki's spokesman. "We presented it to him during the summit in Amman last month, and he promised to study it. The result is a joint Iraqi-American plan to defeat the terrorists."


Iraqis that I've talked to are especially pleased that Bush did not take up the Iraq Study Group's idea of involving Iran in the future of Iraq. The idea of a secret U.S. plan to hand over Iraq to the Iranians (in the context of a grand bargain with the mullahs) has been one of the themes of Sunni jihadist propaganda. The claim has been echoed by some of Washington's allies, including Jordan's King Abdullah II.

Instead, Bush promised to "seek and destroy" networks of support for terrorists, set up by Iran and Syria. That is a sign he understands the broader regional aspects of this struggle. It is impossible to eradicate terrorism in Iraq without eliminating sources of support that lie beyond Iraqi frontiers.
Of course now that the morale has supposedly climbed to previously unknown heights, the Iraqis have to deliver, and that means 18 competent brigades into Baghdad post haste.

As for the jihadists? Tahiri says:
Jihadists have fought not because they hope to win on the battlefield, but to strengthen the antiwar lobbies in the United States and Britain. Some in the new political elite have become fence sitters because they regard the United States as a fickle power that could suddenly change course. Others have created or expanded militias, in case the United States abandons Iraq before it can defend itself against internal foes and predatory neighbors.
The latter point supports my contention that al Sadr was building up his militia in anticipation of a US withdrawal, not a US surge.

We are going to have a very interesting year as this spools up.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

I quote Fred Thompson in Hunt for Red October:

This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we’ll be lucky to live through it.
Written By: Ugh
URL: http://
On the other hand, I remember Al-Qaeda’s early statement that it would keep fighting until it breaks American’s economic back.

Chuck Hagel’s argument also made a lot os sense:
the more we commit, the more we commit to future commitments. We are, in effect, committing ourselves to being Iraq’a policeman for as long as can be foreseen. Defeating al Sadr, will not make the Shiite militants disappear; they will just disperse, regroup and re-emerge. For the kind of nation to everge that we would like to see, it would take generation, not even just decades.

I’ll believe Maliki’s press releases, when I see him actually act on a promise.

Once the initial error of waging this war was done, any good solution was forfeited. Now we are just arguing about patch work. Insurgencies and counter insugencies were inevitalbe, given the history of the region.

Ameicans don’t appreciate how deep the hatred runs. I don’t buy Bush’s argument, that lack of resolve in Iraq will cause terrorists to follow us home. They will try to follow us home no matter what we do in Iraq. Peace among the factions in Iraq, might just as well free them up to concentrate on the US homeland even more.

We are all just reading tea leaves, going with our gut guesses, and hoping for the best.

Color me gloomy and afraid.
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
Peace among the factions in Iraq, might just as well free them up to concentrate on the US homeland even more.
Now that’s just goofy!
"Achmed I am happy in Iarq, how about you Jalil?"
"You know since the end of the war, my life too, has imporoved dramatically."
"Well, since things are going so swimmingly in our lives, let’s go attack AMERIKA!"
"Yes, Let’s...DEATH TO AMERIKA!"
A successful Iraq, defined as a moderately democratic and moderately wealthy Iraq is going to spark MORE terrorism, in the US? There are many things you can say about US strategy, both good and bad, but that one is NOT one of them.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://

Your arguments are reasonable only when directed at reasonable people. The ideas that foster militancy are not reasonable, they are ideological. Are suicide bombers reasonably assenssing their welfare and the welfare of their communities?
In fact, militants feed on the myths of their losses, the things they want to avenge.

In the happy Iraq you envision, again, your arguemtns would be correct. What we have to deal with, however, is the long road from here to there. What I said applies to the road, not the Edem you envision at tje end.
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
So Iraqi’s are UNREASONABLE people? I just want to get this straight...Iraqis are unreasonable, so the REAL answer to Saddam was not to liberate them but to EXTERMINATE them? Because IF Saddam is a problem, but IF eliminating him and replacing him with a better system isn’t the anwer, I’m afraid what you’ve said is, DEATH TO ARABS!" It seems to me the logical consequence of your assertions... think on it.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
According to who???

Amir Taheri???

How many times does this guy have to make fools out of folks before they become at least a little skeptical of his broad unsubstantiated claims?
Written By: Davebo
URL: http://
Not sure if everyone has seen these videos of the US military in Iraq or not, but they are pretty amazing: Hopefully our ’surge’ will not include too many of these types...
Written By: minorripper
URL: http://
"So Iraqi’s are UNREASONABLE people? :

NO, but militants are very unreasonable, and they’re the ones we have to deal with along the way.
Reasonable people are feeling the country in droves.
Look, I don’t know how this will end any more than anyone else does.
I hope that the changes in America’s mood and the end of tolerance for just ’hanging in there’ will impel Iraqi leadership to finally address the political issues that impede progress. So far, we’ve seen only empty words and sectarian partisanship on their part.
At the first sigh of serious gobernance, I’ll be cheering. But I don’t expect the militants to be cheering with me, not for a long, long time.
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we’ll be lucky to live through it.
Color me gloomy and afraid.
Tough sh*t you two defeatist pansies.

The facts of the matter are, we could withdraw totally this very second, and things would damn well get worse before they get better.

And that statement was true on 9/11, and it was true before Afghanistan and it was true before Iraq.

Man up.
Written By: shark
URL: http://
How many times does this guy have to make fools out of folks ...
Speaking of fools, still waiting on you to produce that quote Davebo.
Written By: McQ

How many times are you going to put up that link?
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
So minor your point would be....what that there are BAD people in Iraq or in the military? Using that logic, I’m afraid we must come home from wherever YOU live, for I am sure that theyre are BAD people there too.

You have read, of course, of the US infantry unit that terrorized the little mountain Italy, in 1943, right? Again if we had video of that incident that would prove...what? That we should undertake a phased redeployment to NYC?
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
NO, but militants are very unreasonable, and they’re the ones we have to deal with along the way.

Dude you make a logic error... all or nothing thinking. Unreasonable people exist EVERYWHERE. Sure Britain has them, evidence the Tube Bombings and Richard Reid. HOWEVER, the proportion and number of them vary. Please note, the vast majority of the 9-11 terrorists were Wahabi Sunni’s from the Middle East...not Brit’s or Frenchmen, or even Sinhalese...So it seems fairly clear that a REASONABLE society TENDS to produce more reasonable people. Certainly if Iraq settles onto the course of Taiwan and Korea we can expect FEWER unreasonable folks from there.

You make it seem if there is ONE terrorist from Iraq the whole policy has failed. Let me apply that to any social or international program to which you ascribe, and we’ll see how valid you find the reasoning, THEN.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Please note, the vast majority of the 9-11 terrorists were Wahabi Sunni’s from the Middle East...

...Certainly if Iraq settles onto the course of Taiwan and Korea we can expect FEWER unreasonable folks from there.
Unfortunately because only a small minority of Sunni Wahabist are in Iraq it is very difficult (too difficult?) to defeat Sunni Wahabists by attacking them primarily in Iraq. Allowing the other Sunni Wahabists to have safe existances allows them to resupply their bretheren in Iraq at their discretion, turning this into a war of attrition.

War of Attrition: a Fanatical society committed to Religious Struggle in a holy cause with vast numbers of unemployed young males seeking entrance to heaven versus Democratic Capitalist state with internal dissent protected through freedom of speech - who do you think will win?
Written By: unaha-closp
"You make it seem if there is ONE terrorist from Iraq the whole policy has failed."

Unfortunately, we have a whole slew of militants fightsting for their various causes: Al Qaeda, the Mahdi Army, all thir offshoots, etc.
They have only one thing in common: they all hate us as much as they hate each other.

Now, with talk of Kurdish battalions being sent into Baghdad, I’m wondering if a new front in secatrian strife will be opened: Kurds vs. Shiites.

In the meantime, Iran is arming the Shiites. Saudi money is funding the Sunnis.

By invading Iraq, we kicked open a hornet’s nest.
I am doubtful that the hornets can be pacified withing a generation, much less a ’surge’.

I’ll be more than happy to be proven worng.
Let’s hope that Rice’s Middle East trip shows some results.

Written By: Laime
URL: http://

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