"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

New York

Iraqi government moves to sideline Sadrists, Mahdi Army

From Bill Roggio at The Long War Journal.

Less than two week after many American newspapers were headlining that Maliki is weakened and Sadr won the battle of Basra, Mr. Roggio explains the current status of the Mahdi Army, the Sadr political party, and PM Maliki.

Less than two weeks after Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki launched Operation Knights' Assault to clear the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backer militias in Basrah, the Iraqi government is moving to ban Muqtada al Sadr's political movement from participating in the election if it fails to disband the militia. Facing near-unanimous opposition, Sadr said he would seek guidance from senior Shia clerics in Najaf and Qom and disband the Mahdi Army if told to do so, according to one aide. But another Sadr aide denied this.

Since Sadr's militia "won the battle of Basra", the Iraqi Government is seeking to pass an election law preventing movements with militias from participating in the election process. "Weaken" PM Maliki has near-unanimous support in the Parliament from Kurdish, Sunni, and Shiite leaders for the proposed law. The "fragmented" Parliament is expected to easily pass this legislation into law within a couple of weeks. Passage in a couple of weeks would be a new record from conception to passage if executed as stated. All of these actions against Sadr does not sound like actions against a victor on the field of battle. PM Maliki leading these actions hardly appears politically weakened in a disjointed Parliament.

Hassan al Rubaie, a Sadrist member of parliament said,

Our political isolation was very clear and real during the meeting.... Even the blocs that had in the past supported us are now against us and we cannot stop them from taking action against us in parliament, We must go and explain to [Sadr] in person that there's a problem."

Maybe, just maybe, the reporters in Baghdad got it all wrong about the winners and losers in Basra, only a couple hundred miles south of their secure hotel rooms.

Far from another quagmire (as portrayed), it appears the Iraqi Government and Army are stepping up to the plate and confronting threats to their young democracy. The number one threat since Americans have isolated and weakened Al Qaeda is the Mahdi Army. The Iraqi Government is doing these actions for the better of Iraq, not Iran who supports Sadr. While not as proficient as American forces, the Iraqi Army is building capacity daily and is able to reposition itself in Iraq to bring the required forces to bear to defeat internal unrest. While not unified, when important, the Iraqi Parliament is able to come together to put into place political solutions to aid military forces.

Maybe, just maybe, the politicians who said all is lost in Iraq and the surge of American forces would only worsen the problems in Iraq got it all wrong from their secure offices only a couple thousand miles from Iraq.

I wonder how politicians, invested in defeat in Iraq, will fare in upcoming national elections in November. I wonder how the only presidential candidate remaining who has steadfastly supported the war and surge effort will fare in his presidential bid come November. October elections in Iraq will be extremely interesting now that Sadr's movement is militarily and politically isolated. More interesting will be November elections in America.

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