For all intents and purposes, such a declaration should, once and for all, remove whatever gloves the US has been wearing when dealing with the man.
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is establishing a new fighting force to battle U.S.-led troops in Iraq, he said in a letter read in Iraqi mosques Friday.
Al-Sadr's letter said that "the resistance will be exclusively conducted by only one group. This new group will be defined soon by me."
And, of course, there is a direct connection to him as well.
Part of this has been precipitated by the apparent loss of influence al-Sadr has undergone. As an indication, Bill Roggio points to waning attendance at anti-US demonstrations called by al-Sadr:
The US military released imagery of the demonstrations held in Sadr City that occurred the past three Fridays. The first week, the military estimated Sadr had 10,000 protesters in attendance on May 30, about 3,000 on June 6, and 1,500 today. Sadr City contains an estimated 2.5 million Shia. In 2006 Sadr's protests drew hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
The imagery Roggio talks about can be found at the link to his site. In a country that is able to put 100,000 protesters in the street at the drop of a hat, 1,500 certainly doesn't to growing influce at all.
In the letter, al-Sadr said, "The weapons will be held exclusively by this new group, and they should be pointed exclusively at the occupier," adding that he will forbid the group "to target anyone else."
The letter added, "We will not stop resisting the occupation until liberation or martyrdom."
The latter sounds pretty good to me. And, given his new and direct linking of himself to the effort, al-Sadr may become a legitimate target for US forces. Says Roggio:
Sadr's open defiance may change the calculus on how the US military and the Iraqi government deal with the Sadrist movement and the Mahdi Army. The US military has long attempted to separate Muqtada al Sadr and the Mahdi Army from what it labels the "Special Groups" criminal elements supported by Iran's Qods Force. This was done in an attempt to provide Sadr and the less radical elements of his followers and opportunity to join the political process while US and Iraqi troops target the extremist elements of the Mahdi Army.
In effect, al-Sadr has just openly joined the extremist elements. My guess is, Mookie will direct others to die for his cause while he safely hides in Iran - such has been his habit previously.
As for the rest of the Mahdi Army:
Al-Sadr is transitioning much of the rest of the Mehdi Army into a civilian movement dealing with "religious, social and cultural affairs," according to the letter.
That part of the Mehdi Army will not be involved in militancy but will "fight the Western ideology and liberate the minds from domination and globalization."
So where is this all coming from? Well, per intelligence sources, the usual suspect:
Iraqi and Western intelligence sources have said that Iran, over the last few months, has pressured al-Sadr to promote its interests, which include getting the United States out of Iraq.
The word "dupe" springs to mind. Given the declining protest crowd sizes, apparently the Iraqi people are figuring this out as well.
I read this differently. I see Sadr as telling most of his people, "go live your life. My and my secret commandos will take responsibility for fighting the occupation." It’s a way of recognizing what’s happening on the ground - that the fighting is ending and that people are moving on anyway.
I see this as "I lost but I can’t admit that I lost .. so instead .. I am reorganizing my forces" The old "retreat and regroup" strategy, but with media spin to make it look good.
al-Sadr is merely taking the Iranian line after his Mahdi Army was reduce to fragments. "The weapons will be held exclusively by this new group" says it all .. Mahdi Army has lost and will longer be of any importance.
The one point that I will look for the other Oriental experts to agree or disagree on is whether this signals the end of the 12th imam, the Mahdi, strategy by al-Sadr and the mullahs in Tehran. If so, this signals a huge victory for US forces.
See, I was right all along. Sadr won against Maliki. And this proves it. He’s reorganizing his forces for the final Iran-backed takeover of Iraq, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it, because Iraq is an irretrievable failure. It is, it is, it is! I decree it.
And don’t start about Sadr just trying to spin leftists in the US so that we keep up our doom and gloom prognostications. I don’t need Sadr for that. My godlike powers of political science enable me to understand intuitively that no good can ever come from American military action. Never, never, never, do you hear me!
But you thick righties just go right on thinking Iraq might be a success some day. We wise leftists control academia and the history books. I don’t care what you think now - when this comes out in the history books, it will be a dismal failure and Bush will be the worst president in history, and Jimmy Carter will be redeemed. And we’ll establish once and for all that a zillion Iraqis were killed, and that a million skillion Iraqi children growing up in a war zone were scarred for life and will definitely be the next generation of terrorists, and that intervention is a risky, risky, risky policy that should never be contemplated, whereas non-intervention coupled with negotiation is a perfect policy that always makes everyone happy. Except you sub-human military types, of course.
And if you disagree with any of this, you’re being emotional about it. Instead of totally objective, as I am. Just read my blog to see more. It contains posts of such massive word count that I had to replace my monitor due to internal gravitation stresses screwing up the pixels.
Yet in spite of all the accusations of White House "manipulation" — that it pressured intelligence analysts into connecting Hussein and Al Qaeda and concocted evidence about weapons of mass destruction — administration critics continually demonstrate an inability to distinguish making claims based on flawed intelligence from knowingly propagating falsehoods. .. committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV got in this familiar shot: "Sadly, the Bush administration led the nation into war under false pretenses." Yet Rockefeller’s highly partisan report does not substantiate its most explosive claims.