Monday, April 16, 2007


Mookie All In

Moktada al-Sadr, from his secret clubhouse, has played his last political card--he has withdrawn the 6 cabinet members of his party from the coalition government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Malaki. In poker parlance this is known as going all in. He has no political move left, if the al-Malaki government replaces the cabinet members and then ignores him.

Who knows the tensile strength of the backbone of the al-Malaki government? Perhaps this will bring about a change helpful to the radical Shiite cleric. I see it as a bit of a desperation move, not value betting. If he bluffs his way out of politics while the Mahdi militia he controls is fading in the new surge tactics, what power will he have?


I think you have read this completely wrong. Although Sadr loses his influence in Maliki's cabinet, it can be argued that Maliki has already stopped bowing to his demands; the call for a timetable has not been heeded.

Sadr still has a very important number of MPs at his disposal and he plans to oppose Maliki through his influence in the Parliament.

Should he withdraw from Parliament, THAT would be all in. This is a big play, but I'd say he still has about two-thirds of his chips left to bet.
I see your point, but I thought, and continue to think, that the withdrawal of cabinet members is the formal notice he's abandoning the coalition. The 'Mahdi' MPs, he has signaled, will no longer vote with al Maliki. But perhaps it is a two step process, first the cabinet members, then the MPs--I am certainly no expert about Iraqi politics post Saddam . Still, withdrawing partly or wholly from politics is not a move from strength, wouldn't you agree?
I understand Sadr's move is in protest to the arrest of some of his army members. I fear his army has, to paraphrase Longfellow, "folded its tents like the Arabs, and as silently stealed away," for the time being only.

At some point we are going leave Iraq. Sadr's army will reemerge at that time and the question is whether the Iraqi security forces then in plavce will have the ability or will to feat it.

Yes, the cabinet move is the formal notice that he is abandoning the coalition. He will now fight the Maliki government in the Parliament. He has not withdrawn from politics whatsoever, and I don't expect the MPs to go next.

His cabinet positions were largely symbolic but were good money earners. It looks like he is getting his funding elsewhere if he doesn't need the graft that the cabinet positions generate. I'll let you decide what the source is.
Still, withdrawing partly or wholly from politics is not a move from strength, wouldn't you agree?
I'm not sure what you mean. A move away from strength, or a strong move? Anyway, I think that withdrawing the cabninet members and fighting Maliki in Parliament is a show of strength and an assertion of Sadr's power: he doesn't need Maliki anymore.

It may be a miscalculation, but it is a declaration of strenghth, in my view.

I guess I can see how you call it "all in" but I still just see it as a step, and mostly for effect.

I think the move is in protest for Maliki not setting a time line for American withdraw. We have seen plenty of Sadr's men get picked up with no action on his part, so why now?

Yes, the Americans will leave someday, and the Mehdi army will be left as the most powerful force of the land.

Well done Mr. Bush.
Sorry, you guys are not reaching me. I think Sadr is a declining power, not a rising star. But obviously I need more information about the MP aspect. There will be more postings, but you guys will eventually admit you were wrong in your predictions here. Or so I predict.
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