Finally - Al Sadr orders Mahdi Army to attack US troops, most likely from the safety of Iran Posted by: McQ
on Sunday, April 08, 2007
Muqtada al Sadr may be a firebrand, but I doubt very much he has much in the way of physical courage. Assumed to be safe in Iran, al Sadr has ordered what is left of his Mahdi Army to attack US forces:
The renegade cleric Muqtada al-Sadr urged Iraqi forces to stop cooperating with the United States and told his guerrilla fighters to concentrate their attacks on American troops rather than Iraqis, according to a statement issued Sunday.
The statement, stamped with al-Sadr's official seal, was distributed in the Shiite holy city of Najaf on Sunday — a day before a large demonstration there, called for by al-Sadr, to mark the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad.
"You, the Iraqi army and police forces, don't walk alongside the occupiers, because they are your archenemy," the statement said. Its authenticity could not be verified.
In the statement, al-Sadr — who commands an enormous following among Iraq's majority Shiites and has close allies in the Shiite-dominated government — also encouraged his followers to attack only American forces, not fellow Iraqis.
"God has ordered you to be patient in front of your enemy, and unify your efforts against them — not against the sons of Iraq," the statement said, in an apparent reference to clashes between al-Sadr's Mahdi Army fighters and Iraqi troops in Diwaniyah, south of Baghdad. "You have to protect and build Iraq."
His is a loser's strategy if, as anticipated, the Iraqi Army continues to conduct joint operations with US forces in Baghdad. Not that I mind. But directing such a difference be made will not be very effective if those al Sadr has directed not to engage Iraqi forces attempt to do so in a combined operation and the Iraqi Army doesn't reciprocate.
Iraqi and US forces clashed with Shia militia loyal to the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr yesterday in a dawn operation aimed at returning the volatile city of Diwaniya to government control.
Iraqi and US troops fought militiamen in southeast Diwaniya, a stronghold of Sadr’s Mehdi Army, which the Pentagon says poses the greatest threat to peace in Iraq. The head of Sadr’s office in the city blamed rogue gunmen.
Pamphlets dropped by US helicopters warned police, who are suspected of being infiltrated by the militia, to stay off the streets. Any found carrying weapons would be shot.
A US military spokesman said three to six “enemy fighters” were killed, five wounded and 17 captured. US and Iraqi forces suffered no fatalities, Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Bleichwehl said.
Bottom line: this is a fight which we hoped to avoid but now that it is starting to bud, we need to nip it once and for all. This is an extremely important point in the battle for Iraq's soul. If, in fact, the Iraq Army stays loyal to the government and their charter, the Mahadi Army hasn't a chance. If the Army starts to come apart and splinters, the surge will most likely end up failing.
Reading numerous first hand accounts of returning US soldiers who've worked with the Iraqi Army on different tours, most see a huge and positive difference between their first time working with them and then the second tour. Most feel confident the Army will do well. The police are still not trusted.
Anyway, the upcoming battle with the Mahdi Army, as far as I'm concerned, may be the decisive battle for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people (and certainly those in Baghdad). AQ will find a way to burn itself out (and, of course, we'll help).
The key to winning this battle is the Iraqi Army. If they stay loyal and do their job, the surge will most likely succeed. If not, I'd have to guess it will fail and we may be watching the beginning of the end of our involvement in Iraq.
I note that the quoted text of the statement doesn’t say what the Yahoo news headline claims the statement says. The quoted text sounds like Sadr’s standard line for the past year - passive hostility and noncooperation.
I think you should dig deeper on this one before taking it at face value. There’s a major protest planned for tomorrow - you don’t order attacks on an occupying army to start a day before a planned massive nonviolent protest. If anything, you start incidents that coincide with it.
I’d go as far as to say that this could be disinformation spin by parties interested in sparking that full-out confrontation. Not people who are sure to lose in it: the Sadr movement and the U.S. army.
"God has ordered you to be patient in front of your enemy, and unify your efforts against them — not against the sons of Iraq," the statement said, in an apparent reference to clashes between al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army fighters and Iraqi troops in Diwaniyah, south of Baghdad. "You have to protect and build Iraq."
Hmmm. Whoops, another passage. This one is a little more supportive of the Yahoo headline, I suppose. I still don’t think this is intended to be the start of a violent, widespread Shiite uprising. We’ll find out, won’t we? They ought to be able to muster tens of thousands of armed fighters, conservatively, so that might make the evening news, I’d say.
From what seems very likely to be the same statement, in the NYT:
``In order to end the occupation, you will go out and demonstrate,’’
Sadr, who has been keeping a low profile, called on his Mehdi Army militia and Iraqi security forces to stop fighting in the volatile city of Diwaniya and stop playing into the hands of U.S. forces who he said had stirred up civil strife.
You might look for a translation of the full statement if you want to do your homework.
I’m sick of this punk Al-Sadr. Where would he be if the U.S. didn’t sacrifice our own blood and treasure ousting his arch enemy Saddam Hussein? He’s a cowardly, opportunistic, snaggle-toothed douchebag.
I’m a LOT more worried about the police than I am the Army. Who has been doing the police training? I’m thinking that a purge of the police will be a critical component of the rest of the surge. We’ve seen some stories where this is being done; more faster, please.
For the most part we have, SDN, and the trainers have come from a variety of sources: some FBI and local police either there on assignment or as volunteers, others from private companies who specialize in providing training to LE/M customers, a few MPs, etc, etc.