View Full Version : Iraq's Sadr Overhauls His Tactics

05-20-2007, 09:28 AM
20 May Washington Post - Iraq's Sadr Overhauls His Tactics (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/19/AR2007051901307.html) by Sudarsan Raghavan.

The movement of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has embarked on one of its most dramatic tactical shifts since the beginning of the war.

The 33-year-old populist is reaching out to a broad array of Sunni leaders, from politicians to insurgents, and purging extremist members of his Mahdi Army militia who target Sunnis. Sadr's political followers are distancing themselves from the fragile Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which is widely criticized as corrupt, inefficient and biased in favor of Iraq's majority Shiites. And moderates are taking up key roles in Sadr's movement, professing to be less anti-American and more nationalist as they seek to improve Sadr's image and position him in the middle of Iraq's ideological spectrum...

05-20-2007, 11:20 AM
If true, is this what "victory" looks like?

Forcing the various militias to moderate, and then use them as a basis for political solution "might" be a solution.

05-20-2007, 01:51 PM
If true, is this what "victory" looks like?

Forcing the various militias to moderate, and then use them as a basis for political solution "might" be a solution.

I wouldn't be too optimistic. You can see that various aides say different things. Some say US has a role to play. Others say Iraqis should unite to expel the occupiers.

Also nobody is saying Mahdi army should disarm and/or integrate into Iraqi security forces. Basically they remain second largest force in Iraq, outside of governmental control and no intentions of disbanding.

Granted, moderation from it's high members is a good thing but there is moderation and there is moderation.

05-23-2007, 10:01 AM
More and potentially huge evidence: Anbar Salvation Front meets with Sadrist leaders in Sadr City. (http://www.iraqslogger.com/index.php/post/2901/Anbar_Front_Meets_with_Sadrist_Leaders)

The best evidence yet that Sadr is seeking Sunni allies and move the Sadr movement away from out-and-out Shia sectarianism and towards a more encompassing Iraqi nationalism.

In an unprecedented step, a top leader of the pro-US tribal alliance in Anbar Province traveled to Sadr City Tuesday to meet with leaders of the Sadrist current.

Sheikh Hamid al-Hayis, who leads the armed wing of the US-backed movement known as the Anbar Awakening, or the Anbar Salvation Council, held a rare meeting with Sadrist leaders in Baghdad’s Sadr City, the bastion of support for the young cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and stronghold of the Mahdi Army.

“This meeting is a message to Iraqi politicians to get rid of their differences and to seek real reconciliation,” Hayis said, according to the AFP.

“We are trying to pressure (the government) to make political changes for the sake of the Iraqi people who are drowning in the blood of their sons,” Hayis added.

“This visit shows that Iraqi tribes are standing side by side and they are the nail in the coffin of the abhorrent sectarianism which has split our country,” said Shi'a Sheikh Malik Sewadi al-Mohammedawi, whom AFP identifies as the head of one of Sadr City’s most influential tribes.

Mohammedawi blamed the country’s sectarian strife on “occupation forces and foreign takfiris,” using a common term for Sunni extremists, derived from the practice of takfir, or branding fellow Muslims as unbelievers.
The Sunni tribal alliance known as the Anbar Awakening or Anbar Salvation Front cooperates closely with US forces in its operations in the western province.

The Sadrist current and the Anbar Salvation Front have very different relationships to the Maliki government and the US occupation forces. The Sadrists have repeatedly clashed with US forces, and call for withdrawal of foreign armies from Iraq, while the Anbar Front accepts aid and training from the US and coordinates closely with it in its operations.

However, the two groups share similar interests in building their political image on the Iraqi stage nationalists with an agenda that can include all Iraqis. The Anbar group plands to stand in upcoming elections, while the Sadrists are hoping to shed the baggage of having ushered the Maliki government into power, as well as the sectarian reputation of the Mahdi Army ...

05-25-2007, 09:09 AM
25 May Washington Post - Sadr Back in Iraq, U.S. Generals Say (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/24/AR2007052402344.html?hpid=topnews) by Thomas E. Ricks and Sudarsan Raghavan.

Moqtada al-Sadr, the influential Shiite cleric and militia leader who went into hiding before the launch of a U.S.-Iraqi security offensive in February, is in the southern city of Kufa, senior U.S. military commanders said Thursday.

Sadr, who has long opposed the U.S. occupation and is ratcheting up pressure for a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, has returned from neighboring Iran, perhaps as recently as this week, they said.

"He's been very quiet since he's come back," said Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil Jr., commander of the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division, which is spearheading the offensive in and around Baghdad, now in its fourth month. Sadr's aides said their leader has remained in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, adjacent to Kufa.

Sadr's movement is wooing Sunni leaders and purging extremists in his Mahdi Army militia in an attempt to strengthen his image as a nationalist who can lead all Iraqis at a time when antiwar sentiments are growing in the United States and Iraq's political landscape is increasingly fractured...

05-27-2007, 07:44 AM
27 May NY Times - U.S. and British Airstrikes Hit Iraqi Militia (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/27/world/middleeast/27iraq.html?ref=world) by Kirk Semple.

American, British and Iraqi forces battled fighters from the Mahdi Army militia in Baghdad and the southern port city of Basra on Saturday, with commanders resorting to airstrikes to suppress the militia in both cities, officials said.

The fighting occurred a day after the militia’s leader, the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, came out of hiding and reiterated his calls for the withdrawal of foreign troops. But there was no indication that his re-emergence had incited the militia to take up arms on Saturday against government and allied forces...

05-28-2007, 07:36 PM
Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor, 24 May 07:

A Shiite Storm Looms on the Horizon: Sadr and SIIC Relations (http://jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2373425)

...Moqtada al-Sadr's call to create a "reform and reconciliation project," which would also include Sunnis, is a radical departure from his sectarian base which was formed with the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) and under the spiritual leadership of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in 2004. In addition, al-Sadr's move is a direct challenge to his main Shiite rival, the SIIC, which has posed the most serious threat to al-Sadr's political prestige and leadership in Iraq since 2003. For the most part, limited political mobility in the UIA and the al-Maliki government itself were the sources of frustration for the Sadrists, and most of the blame was directed at the SIIC for its political tactics to tame the Sadrist movement in the government.

SIIC leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim's May 13 call to change the name of the party from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq to the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, dropping the word "revolution" from the name, also brings to light a key move by Iraq's leading Shiite politician in preparing for the post-coalition era. As the leader of Iraq's largest party, backed by possibly the largest militia in the Middle East, al-Hakim's new strategy also includes a renewed pledge of allegiance to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and his Najaf-based religious organization. The reason for this symbolic reaffirmation of the party's political position is clear. Al-Hakim aims to distance his party from its exiled past when the party was based in Iran from the early 1980s to 2003, and reconstruct a Shiite Iraqi identity by aligning with the Najaf clerical authority. The call was also an attempt to establish distance from the Iranian shrine city of Qom, where Ayatollah Khamenei has considerable power over the religious and political institutions....