spinning straw into gold…

Posted on Monday 31 March 2008

In a possible turning point in the recent upsurge in violence, Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his Shiite militiamen off the streets Sunday but called on the government to stop its raids against his followers. The government welcomed the move, which followed intense negotiations by Shiite officials, including two lawmakers who reportedly traveled to Iran to ask religious authorities there to intervene. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose offensive that began Tuesday in the oil-rich southern city in Basra sparked the crisis, called al-Sadr’s statement ”a step in the right direction.”

But fighting continued in the Basra area after the announcement. Seven people also were killed when a mortar struck a residential district in Baghdad’s Karradah district, and witnesses reported clashes in the Shula area in a northern section of the capital. A U.S. airstrike killed 25 suspected militants after American ground forces came under heavy fire during a combat patrol in predominantly Shiite eastern Baghdad, where the fiercest clashes in the capital have occurred. The nine-point statement by the anti-American cleric, which was broadcast through Shiite mosques in Baghdad and across the south, called for an end to the ”armed presence” in Basra and other cities and urged followers ”to cooperate with the government to achieve security.”

Al-Sadr, however, also demanded that the Iraqi government stop ”illegal and haphazard raids” and release security detainees who haven’t been charged, two issues cited by his movement as reasons for fighting the government. The Sadrists have complained that the government has released few of their followers under a new amnesty law, which they complain has favored Sunnis who have recently joined with the Americans to fight al-Qaida. The cleric’s decision offered a way out of a widening Shiite conflict at a time when government forces appeared to be making little headway against the well-armed militias in Basra…

The Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr on Sunday called for his followers to stop fighting in Basra and in turn demanded concessions from Iraq’s government, after six days in which his Mahdi Army militia has held off an American-supported Iraqi assault on the southern port city. The substance of Mr. Sadr’s statement, released Sunday afternoon, was hammered out in elaborate negotiations over the past few days with senior Iraqi officials, some of whom traveled to Iran to meet with Mr. Sadr, according to several officials involved in the discussions. Still, though fighting was reported to have died down by late afternoon in Basra, it continued in Baghdad, including heavy combat by Iraqi and American troops and aircraft in the Mahdi Army stronghold of Sadr City, casting uncertainty on the deal. The negotiations with Mr. Sadr were seen as a serious blow for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who had vowed that he would see the Basra campaign through to a military victory and who has been harshly criticized even within his own coalition for the stalled assault.

Last week, Iraq’s defense minister, Abdul Kadir al-Obeidi, conceded that the government’s military efforts in Basra have met with far more resistance than was expected. Many Iraqi politicians say that Mr. Maliki’s political capital has been severely depleted by the Basra campaign and that he is in the curious position of having to turn to Mr. Sadr, a longtime rival, for a way out. And it was a chance for Mr. Sadr to flaunt his power, commanding both armed force and political strength that can forcefully challenge the other dominant Shiite parties, including Mr. Maliki’s Dawa movement and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. In the statement, Mr. Sadr told militia members “to end all military actions in Basra and in all the provinces” and “to cooperate with the government to achieve security.”

But Mr. Sadr also demanded concessions, including that the government grant a general amnesty for his followers, release all imprisoned members of the Sadrist movement who have not been convicted of crimes and bring back “the displaced people who have fled their homes as a result of military operations.” It was not clear if the government was willing to meet those demands…
Let’s hope it’s true. There’s been enough bloodshed in Iraq for several wars. Bush and Cheney will be spinning like Rumpelstiltskin, about al-Malaki’s flexing his muscles. Meanwhile, Moqtada al-Sadr comes out of it still holding Basra, Sadr City, and probably most of Southern Iraq. He emerges from it as a proven Military and Political force. And he is likely headed to the winner’s circle in the elections due in October. Mr. Bush and Cheney, meanwhile have backed al-Malaki in an endeavor that was probably directly aimed at unseating al-Sadr – a failed endeavor. And, speaking of the Administration’s hype – "… senior Iraqi officials, some of whom traveled to Iran to meet with Mr. Sadr …" I’ll bet they’re having coniption fits at the American Enterprise Institute.

My own read on this is that the fate of Iraq  will be  has been decided in Baghdad and Tehran, not Washington D.C. But that’s nothing new. It’s been in the cards for some time, like the day we entered Iraq in 2003. What of the idea that al Qaeda will take over Iraq and use it for a base to train Terrorists? I doubt that either the Iraqis or the Iranians are interested in such a thing. Why should they be. They have us by the … with their oil reserves no matter what happens. And the whole one trillion dollar, 4000 dead children enterprise of Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney will have insured that our capacity to do anything about that will be very limited to nonexistent. We’re not their enemies. We’re their customers.

So how will it play out in our elections? Will the Rumpelstiltskin method of spinning nightly yarns work yet again? I’m worried about that like everyone else. I think it depends on the Democrats being able to mount an effective offensive game [In case you’ve forgotten, Rumpelstiltskin out lost in the end]…
    March 31, 2008 | 6:54 AM

    Author A J Rossmiller in his book “Still Broken” quoting the cover “A Recruit’s Inside Account of Intelligence Failures, From Baghdad to the Pentagon” says “If approval depends upon telling supervisors what they want to hear, or if careers rely on giving “Good” news, then the culture of corruption and atmosphere of fear created by the Bush administration has crippled our intelligence efforts”. Rossmiller continues, “While this adminisrtation has a limited amount of time to wreak havoc, however, the current and the future leaders in the intelligence community will be around for decades to come.” I never thought about the Bush administration damaging the intelligence community for decades to come. I know that the administration has done terrible damage to the Justice dept for years to come but not the intelligence community. I’m sure there are many other damages that the Bush administration has harmed but I don’t even want to think about it. When are the other branches of gov’t going to do their job? I believe that the Democratic candidates have to expose the corruption of this group every day. Having a town in Vermont or a town in California voting to impeach Bush and or Cheney isn’t enough. We need a promise from our candidates that whoever wins will have a committee like the Frank Church committee during the Watergate mess in the 70’s to stop the bleeding of our constitution.

    March 31, 2008 | 9:26 AM

    Good point, the Church Commission. As for other agencies, now it’s HUD. I expect a better question would be what agencies have not been harmed by BushCo. I can’t think of any…

    March 31, 2008 | 6:01 PM

    “There’s been enough bloodshed in Iraq for several wars” – er, which would those be? The ones that saw 50x, 500x or 5,000x as much (often in fewer years) than this one? Granted 1 is enough for me, but.

    “…the culture of corruption and atmosphere of fear created by the Bush administration…” — not this again. Read Timmerman’s Shadow Warriors.

    March 31, 2008 | 6:52 PM

    I can tell you’re an old man, ’cause you take the time to research before you post. Tell the truth: did you write for one of those tree killers as an interesting young man? I did a lot I’m not proud of as a loose young woman. Now I’m an old prude. We should hang out.

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