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If Maliki lost, what did al-Sadr win?
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The WSJ deals with the truce which has been agreed upon between the government of Iraq and the Mahdi Army.
Initial press reports have suggested the battle has mostly come out a draw. But a 14-point "truce" between the government and the Mahdists (brokered last week by Iran) suggests otherwise. Among other details reported in the press, the agreement requires the Mahdi Army to abandon its heavy and medium weapons, end its shelling of Baghdad's Green Zone, shut down its kangaroo courts and recognize the authority of Iraqi law. In exchange, the government seems to have promised mainly that it would not arrest lower-level militia members.
A draw? A draw, at least where I come from, doesn't have one side imposing restrictions on the other side. This is dictating terms with the caveat that if they're violated, the destruction of the other side will continue as it was before.

IOW, this "truce" says to the Mahdi Army, accept these conditions and stick with them or well give you no choice at all.

The editorial hits on another important point that those who like to claim that Maliki is an Iranian pawn seem to consistently miss:
The truce suggests, instead, that Iran has grudgingly come to respect Mr. Maliki as a serious opponent. Having invested itself so heavily in Mr. Sadr's success, Tehran had little reason to suddenly lend its diplomatic offices unless it felt the Mahdi Army was on the verge of defeat. Last week's truce may have postponed that moment, but there's little doubt Mr. Sadr's movement has suffered an embarrassing defeat.
Pawns don't start conflicts which work against their master's plans. As the WSJ points out, Iran had invested its interests in Sadr and the Mahdi Army. Iran, as it has discovered, backed the wrong horse. We're now supposed to believe that Maliki will now suddenly cozy up to the country which had, directly, been threatening his leadership.

The last point to be made addresses the "no progress in Iraq" crowd, the group best known for their blinders and goal-post shifting:
However fitfully it began, the Basra campaign is a sign that Iraqis are in fact "standing up" for their own security. It is also a personal vindication for Mr. Maliki, who recognized to his credit that his government had to have a monopoly on violence in Shiite neighborhoods as much as in Sunni enclaves.

In the last year we were told first that the surge was a military failure, and later that it was a military success but that Iraq's political class had not lived up to its end of the bargain. In fact, just as surge supporters said, the Iraqis have become more confident and effective the more they have become convinced that the U.S. was not going to cut and run.
The ISF controls the streets of Basra and Sadr City. Iraq is beginning to do exactly what the detractors have said they must do. And, as the editorial points out, they're doing it because they know we'll stay and back them. The claim was that they wouldn't begin to do this until we left.

That claim, like many others, seems to have been proven false.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Which, of course explains the utter silence on the matter at places like the NYT.

Written By: Bithead
By these standards Appomattox Courthouse was a draw.
Written By: Arch
URL: http://
I have no idea how Time could call this Al-Sadr Wins Another Round. Are they watching the same war ?
Makes me happy I dropped my subscription years ago.

First the "Troofers" deny UBL his due, now the Pentagon declare ..

$5 million $100,000 reward for the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq

al Qaeda in Iraq leader devalued because it feels he’s lost effectiveness and is no longer worth such a steep price.
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
At this rate, Bush will declare victory the week before the November election, leaving the eventual winner to stew in problems of their own making.
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Ah, if only someone were here to tell us how Iran owns them all....and how they enjoy being owned.

I wish I could remember who it was I had that argument with...
He’s brilliant whoever he is.
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Exactly what Iranian objectives in Iraq is Maliki supposed to be opposing?
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Well Retief we know you and a certain professor have secret information that shows how strong the ties are between Iran and Maliki.

If you’d be so good as to provide us the info we could all get on the same page with you two and sing the club song along with you.
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Well it’s not exactly secret but you could start with Ahmadinejad’s visit to Bahgdad in March.

Maliki described the talks this way: "There was a high level of trust and I frankly say that the recent Iranian position towards Iraq is extremely helpful"
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Secret information?

Um, Maliki is the head of the al-Dawa Party. Some history:

The Dawa party began receiving direct support from the Iranian government at around the time of the Iranian Revolution. In 1979, facing pressure from Saddam’s crackdowns (Saddam’s response to Dawa-led uprisings) Dawa moved its headquarters to Tehran. During the Iran-Iraq War, Dawa actually fought, with Iran’s backing, an insurgency against the Iraqi government (so, in a sense, Dawa fought on the side of the Iranians against Iraqis). In 1983 Dawa simultaneously bombed the American and French embassies in Kuwait and several other domestic and foreign targets in Kuwait (but now, we’re BFFs!). Most leaders of al-Dawa, including Maliki for an extended period of time, remained in exile in Iran until the US invasion.

But now Maliki and Iran are enemies?

Oh brother.

Maliki and ISCI are Iran’s closest allies, and they are each rivals of Sadr.

Next thing you’ll be telling me that Iran and ISCI are at odds too?
Written By: Eric Martin
Wait a second. Didn’t the original goal involve things like destroying the movement, ending its militias, stuff like that? Rather than, say, a truce where both sides promise to be nice from now on?

And if Maliki’s so anti-Iran, why did he use Iran to broker a truce in the first place? Is he having his negotiations mediated by his Iranian "enemy"? Is he the Barack Obama of Iraq?
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://

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