Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Hope for the Mahdi, Mahdi Army

Shi'ite militias under Moqtada al-Sadr have clashed with government forces in Baghdad, Basra and al Kut (where the Brits were humiliated during WWI). Not our government, only the Iraqi government forces are involved (although the Brits control and use the air above). Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has given the militia 72 hours to disarm or face destruction. Peace of course would be better, but this is the Shi'ite dominated government of Iraq fighting Shi'ite militias. Our guys aren't involved.

Unless the civil war mentioned so often by the left in the past years was not the Sunni/Shi'ite affair we all feared, this is certainly not a civil war, more like politics through alternate means. Not the end of the world, not the beginning of unraveling the surge successes. It's more like real hardball politics.

Still wish the Brits hadn't become complete shirkers in their area of operations.



I think that Gen. Petraeus is the most able commander of his generation. He be the most able commander for teh past several generations.

It is, however, important to put the surge in perspective. The surge was and remains a means to an end.

The end is a stable and democratic Iraq and I need not repeat my thoughts on the the likelihood of that prospect.

After three days, no sane person could predict whether the current situation is the beginning of a civil war or merely "hardball politics," particularly in consideration of the dearth of reliable information from Basra. Are the oil installations on fire? Have one or more of them been damaged? Are memebers of Iraqi security forces defecting to the Mahdi Army?

The real problem is that when one looks back over Iraq's relatively brief history as a nation, such hardball politics are the norm and not the exception.

One of the ends was a stable and republican form of government Iraq and another was the destruction of AQM by denying it haven and there were others. I agree it's early to make a definitive call but we do know it's not Sunni v. Shi'ite, which is a good thing given the reaction to the Samarra mosque bombng years ago. I think there was a blowup of an oil pipeline. No news I can find of the other installations. No news I can find about defection. The only important queston I have is whether al Maliki will actually do what he threatens. We want to know if he is a stand up guy and we don't want another 'victory' for Mookie.
Finally, Iraq is indeed unlike New Hampshire, will you alert the media or shall I?
I've said for at least a year that this is the real battle. The civil war between Sunni and Shia will be insignificant when compared with the intra-Shia struggle for power in the south.

Hopefully I'm wrong.
If Sadr is calling for a cease fire, it stands to reason that he and his actual forces aren't doing all that well. If true thugs are being killed, this may have a silver lining; if it is the start of a inter-Shia civil war just for power, it could be as bad as you have feared. Well probably know which way the wind is blowing by this time next week. I'm off to Mexico for a week. Hope you and yours are well in Prague.
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