« moral hazard to infinity and.... basra? | Main | "status quo ante" revisited »

March 31, 2008

Comments

hrumpth!

Hey 'expert', nahrain.com is NOT a Sadrist website: it's been around since at least 1999 and it is owned by Abdel-Karim Daibis, "Abu Hatem", who used to be one of the webmasters of sistani.org in Tehran before moving back to Iraq in 2003. He's not affiliated with anybody in any political sense.

You're probably confusing nahrain.com with nahrainnet.net.

Why do you always set yourself up to be exposed as a poser? Why do you do this to yourself?

You should always check and re-check your Iraq stuff since you're a long way off from stating anything with any certainty.

aardvark

Cool - thanks! I've always found the Nahrain news aggregator useful, at any rate.
pssst - your IP address is showing... sigh. Sock-puppetry really is the last refuge of the pathetic.. And I had almost forgotten about you!

hrumpth!

Why go though the whole IP detective route when I made it easy for you right there in the e-mail address field?

"And I had almost forgotten about you!"

I hate taking pleasure in watching weaklings squirm, but you're such a phoney.

Now don't go making any more boo-boos, 'cause I'll be watching.

aardvark

No detective work... "other comments from this IP address" shows up right there in the comment field on typepad. Trust me, I wouldn't waste my time. Not sure why you don't just use your name, though.

Real contributors, you can come on back in now.

hrumpth!

"Dear real contributors, please, please defend me against this big meanie. Say nice things about me. Say that you love me. Love me, dammit, love me!"

Dude, it's so easy to psych you out.

Cernig

Marc,

The arguments that the US were intimately involved in planning/executing Maliki's offensive have partly rested on claims that the Iraqi Army can't move without US logistics.

In the case of the 14th, that's not true - they'd been based athwart the main Baghdad/Basra rail link. It's possible that Maliki used the 14th not just because it was recruited in Basra from mainly Badr Brigade sources (the loyalty factor), but because it was the only one he could easily move without US assistance.

Just another possibility to add into the mix.

Regards, Cernig

Cernig

And while we're all looking South, there's this.

"At a Pentagon briefing last Wednesday, the commander of the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Diyala province, Col. Jon Lehr, told reporters via videoconference that the Sons of Iraq "are not a permanent security solution," although, he added, "they have been an integral part of our strategy."

...as Lehr put it last week, "not all Sons of Iraq are created equally." In Diyala, the local Sons of Iraq groups have split in two. "One is a tribally based," he said. "They tend to be associated with rural areas . . . [and] are there to protect their villages. " The other half, which he described as "the politically based ones," are in Baqubah, the province's main city of about 300,000, which less than a year ago was considered an al-Qaeda-driven battleground.

Baqubah's Sons of Iraq came from the 1920s Revolutionary Brigade, which earlier had been responsible not only for killing American soldiers but also for kidnapping a U.S. Marine. Others are from Hamas in Iraq, a Sunni insurgent faction that had broken away from the 1920s Brigade. And there are also some from mujaheddin made up of former Saddam Hussein loyalists."

That divide isn't getting much attention in op-ed columns - just as the Shiite divide didn't until it exploded in open conflict. Does anyone actually believe that the leaders of the "political" and "tribal" currents of the Awakening will regard having their forces cut to a fifth of their present strength, while the rest become street-sweepers and mechanics, as being in their own interests? Especially given the evidence this last week that Maliki and his allies are quite willing to co-opt State military force to attempt to further theirs? Well, maybe some of the US cheerleading set do - but the rest of us should be looking for yet another explosive fracture at some stage in the future.

Regards, C

aardvark

Hey C - the rss feed for your new url doesn't seem to be working, for me anyway. Keep an eye on that when you move!

bb

Moqtada's acceptance of a ceasefire is consonant with the mahdis fate every single time they have challenged the government and the Shia establishment since 2004 - resistance or challenge,followed by hasty retreat and (contrite?) ceasefire.

Because Moqtada is Shia, and because he represents a significant political movement, he and the Mahdis are a problem to be managed by the government, not eliminated.

I think there is a lot of misunderstanding about this in the west which always seems to report Iraq through a Sunni/Baath prism (the NYT Basra reporter turns out to be a Baathist officer in Saddam's army!).

Whatever the perceptions as to whether Prime Minister Maliki "lost" or not, the actually reality of the situation will be seen going forward - ie if the Iraqi government forces have a henceforth substantially increased presence in Basra and other cities of the south?


Cernig

Marc,

we've pointed the new blog's output at the old feedburner feed.

https://feeds.feedburner.com/Newshog

That should now deliver the new site's content.

Regards, C

Dan Kervick

Marc,

Do you have a link to any English full text versions of the new provincial elections law? I have been wondering since this ruckus began if part of the point was to draw the Sadrists into battle against the government so as to establish a legal pretext for disqualifying Sadrist parties or lists in the provincial elections. After all, it doesn't look like there was really any serious effort to crush or rout the Sadrists, or strike a "decisive blow" against them. Wouldn't that be an absurdly grandiose ambition, anyway?

If this is what was going on, it looks like Sadr did not take the bait. This hypothesis would explain why Sadr was seemingly so eager to negotiate a truce and get his followers to stand down and leave the streets. But I don't know if this hypothesis makes sense, because I'm ignorant about the law. What does the provincial election law say about qualifications for entering the elections, and who gets to decide on those qualifications?

nur al-cubicle

Found this at L'Orient-Le Jour:

"Analyst Moustafa Alani of the Gulf Research Center in Dubai believes that neither camp can claim victory. Maliki was forced to cut a deal with Sadr, whose militias will retain their weapons. Inter-Shi'ite divisions are intact and Alani predicts new violence in the very near future".

Meanwhile more mortars were lobbed at the Green zone Tuesday morning.

nur al-cubicle

Now BBC reports that the Baghdad is out of provision, fuel and without power. This cannot be good for Maliki.

Wendell

Thanks for (trying to) clarify what may well be so opaque as to be unclarifiable. Heck of a note when I'm finding myself reading al Jazeera to try to understand the news (not just find out their take). Now, off to watch Mosaic.

greg

Maliki's disastrous "offensive" against the Sadrists would mark the beginning of the end of his regime, except it's been the beginning of the end since the beginning, so final nail in the coffin might be more accurate.

The move was a disaster for him on every level I can think of. First, he was the aggressor, turning Sadr, who had been fairly faithfully enforcing a ceasefire among his followers, into a victim. Then, Sadr's forces turned out to be more than a match for the government's, despite their better equipment and US support. Maliki's almost immediate shift from "surrender now" to "we'll pay you to stop" was humiliating, and turning to Iran as a peacebroker showed which foreign power has the real influence within Iraq. The ability of the Mahdi Army to rain mortar shells on the Green Zone pretty much showed insurgents can strike at any time and place of their choosing, despite the surge. Finally, Sadr's offer of a truce when he was in a position of advantage made him appear magnaminous and the one most concerned for the well-being of innocent civilians.

The silver lining to all this, from a US standpoint, is that the "fiery cleric" Sadr (I've come to think that phrase is part of his name) actually seems to be a quite reasonable, practical person who takes the long view of things and can be dealt with. This means that a reasonably orderly and bloodless withdrawal of US troops may be possible. Of course, that means the US must recognize that an independent Iraq must be just that, not a puppet host for the US military and oil companies, and that means it will have to wait for a new administration. But my guess is that Obama, at least, is sensible enough to recognize this.

Ken

On the involvement of Americans prior to the move... I found the following exchange betwixt Russert and CIA director Hayden on Sunday's Meet The Press very curious:

MR. RUSSERT: This is an article, Friday's paper: "[Iraqi] Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ... decided to launch the offensive without consulting his U.S. allies, according to administration officials. With little U.S. presence in the south, and British forces in Basra confined to an air base outside the city, one administration official said that, `we can't quite decipher' what is going on. It's a question, he said, of `who's got the best conspiracy' theory about why Maliki decided to act now." The United States was not informed by the Iraqis that we--he was going to do this?

GEN. HAYDEN: I, I don't know what on--what went on on the ground in Baghdad prior to the operation. I do know that this was a decision of the Iraqi government by the prime minister and personally by the prime minister, and that he's relying on Iraqi forces, by and large, to take this action.

MR. RUSSERT: Were you aware of it?

GEN. HAYDEN: I was--in terms of being prebriefed or, or having, you know, the, the normal planning process in which you build up to this days or weeks ahead of time, no. No, I was not.

MR. RUSSERT: You didn't know it was going to happen?

GEN. HAYDEN: No more so than Dave Petraeus or Ambassador Crocker did.

Russert then moved along, and left me yelling at the t.v. screen "SO WHAT DID CROCKER AND PETRAEUS KNOW?!" How any self respecting interviewer could let that dodge go by is beyond me.

But it seems to me that if Maliki really did move without American knowlege that Hayden would be able to act like he was honestly taken by surprise. The word parsing in the above exchange seems like truthiness defined, being technically accurate but very misleading. It's almost as if Hayden knows the truth will out and he doesn't want to have his words come back to haunt him.

greg

Well, Ken, let's take his words at face value. That means the head of US "intelligence," with 150,000 US soldiers on the ground and God knows how many of his own CIA agents in Iraq, had no clue that an offensive involving tens of thousands of government troops was about to take place. That makes me feel soooo much better.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Blog powered by Typepad
Analytics