SMALL WARS COUNCIL
Go Back   Small Wars Council > Conflicts -- Current & Future > Operation Iraqi Freedom > Iraqi Governance

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-29-2007   #1
wm
Council Member
 
wm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: On the Lunatic Fringe
Posts: 1,237
Default Sadr and Jaysh al-Mahdi

Just saw this on the BBC news site. Any thoughts on what prompted this and what the next steps are likely to be?

Quote:
Radical Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr says he is freezing the activities of his Mehdi Army militia for up to six months in order to re-organise it.
He has also called on all its offices to co-operate with the security forces and exercise "self-control".

Analysts see the move as an attempt by Moqtada Sadr to regain control over his increasingly divided militia.
Do folks agree with the "analysts" mentioned in the story? If the militia has fractured, what is the cause? Is it a good news story for coalition efforts?
wm is offline  
Old 08-29-2007   #2
kit
Council Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Texas
Posts: 27
Default

I don't trust al Sadr enough to believe anything he says. He has an ulterior motive.

My guess is it's to lie low, giving the American's a chance to claim "progress" and begin withdrawing. After that's in motion (once started, it won't be stopped), he'll make his move take over the government.
kit is offline  
Old 08-29-2007   #3
cmetcalf82
Council Member
 
cmetcalf82's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 10
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by kit View Post
My guess is it's to lie low, giving the American's a chance to claim "progress" and begin withdrawing. After that's in motion (once started, it won't be stopped), he'll make his move take over the government.
I believe Kit is quite right. The positive impacts of the current "surge" include the increased targeting of both AQ and Shia militia's. Thus by freezing the Mahdi Militia Sadr likely hopes to prevent further targeting and attrition of his militia. The likely long-term intent for Sadr is to retain a measure of military power in the event the U.S. Congress or Presidential elections force the U.S. to significantly or completely withdraw U.S. forces. If this happens Sadr and others must be prepared to contend with increased ethnic conflict as the Sunni and Shia continue to struggle for control. My guess is right now Sadr is betting on that drawdown as a consequence of reporting on political events in the U.S. Bottom line is Sadr must retain his military power to retain his influence.
__________________
"The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
- John Stuart Mill
cmetcalf82 is offline  
Old 08-29-2007   #4
kit
Council Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Texas
Posts: 27
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by cmetcalf82 View Post
Bottom line is Sadr must retain his military power to retain his influence.

Which is just another way of saying Iranian influence.

In future, if we conduct similar operations in another country, we should just find the local equivalent of al Sadr, put him on the payroll and leave. That's a whole lot cheaper, faster and more effective than wrapping ourselves in ideologies and trying to "help" them into the 21st century.
kit is offline  
Old 08-29-2007   #5
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Default I wouldn't bet the farm on that Iranian influence, he's

using them -- and they him -- but very few things in the ME are as they seem.

Most Iraqis are pretty xenophobic (as are the Iraniha), the schism between Persians and Arabs is deep and I suspect that if he hews too much to the Irani, his Mahdi Army will dump him -- and he knows it. He can use but not cleave to...
Ken White is offline  
Old 08-30-2007   #6
Dennis
Council Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: monterey
Posts: 17
Default seems like a no win for him

Quote:
I don't trust al Sadr enough to believe anything he says. He has an ulterior motive.
I don't disagree with that assessment, but it seems to me that this is a no win situation for him.

If violence does stop immediatelly due to this then there is absolutely no doubt in anyone's mind that the MM was behind a majority of the recent violence, not that there was a lot of boubt about that in the first place.

If it continues then it will be percieved that he has lost control of the group.

I think I will be more worried if this does reduce violence.

Even more so if due to the reduced violence, in conjunction with the withdrawal of British forces in the South, the US doesn't apply enough forces there.
Dennis is offline  
Old 08-30-2007   #7
kit
Council Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Texas
Posts: 27
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis View Post
I don't disagree with that assessment, but it seems to me that this is a no win situation for him.

If violence does stop immediatelly due to this then there is absolutely no doubt in anyone's mind that the MM was behind a majority of the recent violence, not that there was a lot of boubt about that in the first place.

If it continues then it will be percieved that he has lost control of the group.

I think I will be more worried if this does reduce violence.

Even more so if due to the reduced violence, in conjunction with the withdrawal of British forces in the South, the US doesn't apply enough forces there.

Apply what forces there? We've commited all we have and sending some to the south would require taking them from someplace else in Iraq, leaving the door open for al Queda or some other group to return.
kit is offline  
Old 08-30-2007   #8
Dennis
Council Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: monterey
Posts: 17
Default

Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by kit View Post
Apply what forces there? We've commited all we have and sending some to the south would require taking them from someplace else in Iraq, leaving the door open for al Queda or some other group to return.
I am not disputing that fact; but if the British leave then we will have to cover down on it somehow.
Dennis is offline  
Old 08-30-2007   #9
tequila
Council Member
 
tequila's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 1,665
Default

Sadr suspends military operations - NYTIMES, 30 Aug.

Quote:
The radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr said Wednesday that he was suspending for six months his Mahdi Army militia’s operations, including attacks on American troops, only hours after his fighters waged running street battles with Iraqi government forces for control of Karbala, one of Iraq’s holiest cities.

The surprise declaration was widely taken as a tacit acknowledgment of the damage done to his movement’s reputation by two days of Shiite-on-Shiite in-fighting, which killed 52 people, wounded 279 and forced thousands of pilgrims to flee birthday celebrations for the Mahdi, one of Shiite Islam’s most revered medieval saints.

Mr. Sadr’s aides declared an unequivocal end to all militia operations. Ahmed al-Shaibani, the chief of Mr. Sadr’s media office in Najaf, confirmed that this “includes suspending the taking up of arms against occupiers,” a reference to American-led coalition troops ...
tequila is offline  
Old 08-30-2007   #10
goesh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,188
Default Don't Bogart Those Nukes My Friend

Iran sees its coming influence and slice of the oil pie in Iraq after America cuts and runs
We will exit and Iran will step down from its nukes, that's the deal
to politically justify the exit, there has to be fewer attacks on our troops
this can only be accomplished by Sadr reining in the elements he controls
his orders for a cease fire have come from Tehran
he can now use American forces to purge his own ranks that have fractured and who are refusing to obey him, plus he will provide Intel on AQ
he will fully consolodate his power and be a minor Iranian Caliph in Iraq, though his luxary will never equal or come close to Saddam's
We never killed him because we knew Iran could and would at any moment if necessary

There is a real puppet master in Iran the likes the world hasn't seen in a couple of decades and it ain't Iran's President. Sadly his power has come from the clear dissent amongst State, DOD, CIA and the Presidency. Not one freakin' time were 3 out of the 4 on the same page in this war, the prerequisite for strategic implementation. As Bogart would say, " play it again, Uncle Sam"
goesh is offline  
Old 08-31-2007   #11
tequila
Council Member
 
tequila's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 1,665
Default

Sadr May Revoke 'Freeze' on Militia - Washington Post, 31 Aug.

Quote:
Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr told his followers Thursday that he would rescind his order "freezing" the operations of his powerful militia if military raids on his offices did not cease in the next few days, according to officials of Sadr's organization.

Sadr's message came the day after he issued a public statement to his Mahdi Army to cease its operations for up to six months so he could restructure the group. But Sadr was forced to reconsider after a raid Thursday by U.S. and Iraqi forces on his office in the southern city of Karbala led to the deaths of six Mahdi Army members and the arrest of 30 others, the officials said.

"When you see the enemy is attacking you, you have to defend yourself," said Alaa Abid Jiaara, a Mahdi Army member in Sadr's headquarters in Kufa, about 90 miles south of Baghdad. "Today we have seen the occupation forces and Iraqi forces violate the Sadr followers and their offices and holy symbols. This means it is the duty of the followers of Sadr to defend against them ..."
tequila is offline  
Old 09-14-2007   #12
Dennis
Council Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: monterey
Posts: 17
Post US wants to work with MM

http://ebird.afis.mil/ebfiles/e20070912543788.html

Quote:
The secret dialogue has been going on since at least early 2006, but appeared to yield a tangible result only in the last week -- with relative calm in an area of west Baghdad that has been among the capital's most dangerous sections.
Negotiation with MM was actually happening much earlier than this. I had the Al Shulla area of Baghdad from AUG-DEC 05. The unit that was there previous to mine had established the contact and I continued the relationship. Our BCT was moved out to Abu Gharaib in Jan following the election. Up to that time I had been meeting pretty regularly with a rep from the local MM to manage and monitor the neighborhood watch groups in the town. We were able to make great strides but we pretty much left them and the town councils hanging when we handed the area over to the IA in Jan 06. By Feb all the towns that we were in previously were in full fledge kung-fu stance and we were moved back in by Mar.
Dennis is offline  
Old 10-13-2007   #13
SWJED
Small Wars Journal
 
SWJED's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Largo, Florida
Posts: 3,988
Default Relations Sour Between Shiites and Iraq Militia

12 October New York Times - Relations Sour Between Shiites and Iraq Militia by Sabrina Tavernese.

Quote:
In a number of Shiite neighborhoods across Baghdad, residents are beginning to turn away from the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia they once saw as their only protector against Sunni militants. Now they resent it as a band of street thugs without ideology.

The hardening Shiite feeling in Baghdad opens an opportunity for the American military, which has long struggled against the Mahdi Army, as American commanders rely increasingly on tribes and local leaders in their prosecution of the war.

The sectarian landscape has shifted, with Sunni extremists largely defeated in many Shiite neighborhoods, and the war in those places has sunk into a criminality that is often blind to sect...
SWJED is offline  
Old 10-13-2007   #14
skiguy
Council Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 169
Default Shiites grow disillusioned with militia in Baghdad

Is this as big a thing as I think it is, (a Shiite awakening?) or am I making too much of it?

Quote:
In a number of Shiite neighborhoods across Baghdad, residents are beginning to turn away from the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia they once saw as their only protector against Sunni militants. Now they resent it as a band of street thugs without ideology.

The hardening Shiite feeling in Baghdad opens an opportunity for the American military, which has long struggled against the Mahdi Army, as American commanders rely increasingly on tribes and local leaders in their prosecution of the war.

The sectarian landscape has shifted, with Sunni extremists largely defeated in many Shiite neighborhoods, and the war in those places has sunk into a criminality that is often blind to sect.

....

Among the people killed in the neighborhood of Topchi over the past two months, residents said, were the owner of an electrical shop, a sweets seller, a rich man, three women, two local council members, and two children, ages 9 and 11.

It was a disparate group with one thing in common: All were Shiites killed by Shiites. Residents blamed the Mahdi Army, which controls the neighborhood.

"Everyone knew who the killers were," said a mother from Topchi, whose neighbor, a Shiite woman, was one of the victims. "I'm Shiite, and I pray to God that he will punish them."

The feeling was the same in other neighborhoods.

"We thought they were soldiers defending the Shiites," said Sayeed Sabah, a Shiite who runs a charity in the western neighborhood of Huriya. "But now we see they are youngster-killers, no more than that. People want to get rid of them."

While the Mahdi militia still controls most Shiite neighborhoods, early evidence that Shiites are starting to oppose some parts of the militia is surfacing on American bases. Shiite sheiks, the militia's traditional base, are beginning to contact Americans, much as Sunni tribes reached out early this year, refocusing one entire front of the war, officials said, and the number of accurate tips flowing into American bases has soared.

Shiites are "participating like they never have before," said Major Mark Brady, of the Multi-National Division-Baghdad Reconciliation and Engagement Cell, which works with tribes.


LINK
skiguy is offline  
Old 12-07-2007   #15
tequila
Council Member
 
tequila's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 1,665
Default

Sadr militia moves to clean house - LATIMES, 7 Dec.

Quote:
Militia commander Abu Maha had studied his quarry carefully, watching as the man acquired fancy suits, gold watches and the street name "Master." Now, heavily armed and dressed in an Adidas track suit, Abu Maha told his followers it was time to act against one of their comrades.

A dozen of them gripped their assault rifles and headed out. The Master, accused of sliding into immoral behavior after stoutly defending Shiite Muslims in Iraq's sectarian violence, was about to learn that justice in the Mahdi Army could be very rough.

Fighters such as Abu Maha have taken on a new role in recent months in the militia of Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr. Instead of battling Sunni insurgents and U.S. troops, they are now weeding out what they consider to be black sheep within their ranks ...
tequila is offline  
Old 12-07-2007   #16
Dennis
Council Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: monterey
Posts: 17
Default Muqtada is trying to take the Sadr movement to the next level

I think that what's going on right now is a practical response from Muqtada. Over the last 4 years if Muqtada has demonstrated anything it's that he is practical and flexible enough in basic ideology to cooperate or fight against just about any group if it suits the purposes of the Sadr movement.


This aspect is what I think doesn' get enough attention. Muqtada is more than a common street thug and there are some pretty good reasons why he has and will continue to have support from Iraqi's.

1. His personal lineage
2. The fact that the Sadr movement represents one of the only ones that is distinctely Arab, Iraqi, and Shia.
3. The focus on providing support and services to the Shia urban poor.
4. The perception that Sadr leaders have always stood, fought(physically or ideologically), and represented their constituency in the face of oppression while others have fled to exile.

What's holding Muqtada up is his ability to appeal to the merchant and elites of Iraq. These groups have been allying more with groups like SCIRI and follow leaders such as Sistani and Hakim. However, both of these are regarded as Iranian in origin and influence. If Muqtada is to take the Sadr movement to the next level he has to bridge the gap between appealing to the urban poor and also appealing to the elites.

He can only accomplish this if he can attain designation as an "object of emulation" within Shia Islam. What's going on right now is more about Muqtada getting his ideological house in order to have the greatest appeal to all Iraqi constituencies. He has a built in base of support, due to the group he leads, however he has repeatedly hit a wall by either overplaying his military capability or reaching the limits of his base of appeal. If he is to move to the next level he must have credentials on par with his uncle and father who preceded him.
Dennis is offline  
Old 02-08-2008   #17
Jedburgh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,097
Default

ICG, 7 Feb 08: Iraq's Civil War, the Sadrists and the Surge
Quote:
.....Among Sadrist rank and file, impatience with the ceasefire is high and growing. They equate it with a loss of power and resources, believe the U.S. and ISCI are conspiring to weaken the movement and eagerly await Muqtada’s permission to resume the fight. The Sadrist leadership has resisted the pressure, but this may not last. Critics accuse Muqtada of passivity or worse, and he soon may conclude that the costs of his current strategy outweigh its benefits. In early February 2008, senior Sadrist officials called upon their leader not to prolong the ceasefire, due to expire later in the month.

The U.S. response – to continue attacking and arresting Sadrist militants, including some who are not militia members; arm a Shiite tribal counterforce in the south to roll back Sadrist territorial gains; and throw its lot in with
Muqtada’s nemesis, ISCI – is understandable but shortsighted. The Sadrist movement, its present difficulties aside, remains a deeply entrenched, popular mass movement of young, poor and disenfranchised Shiites. It still controls key areas of the capital, as well as several southern cities; even now, its principal strongholds are virtually unassailable. Despite intensified U.S. military operations and stepped up Iraqi involvement, it is fanciful to expect the Mahdi Army’s defeat. Instead, heightened pressure is likely to trigger both fierce Sadrist resistance in Baghdad and an escalating intra-Shiite civil war in the south.

Muqtada’s motivations aside, his decision opens the possibility of a more genuine and lasting transformation of the Sadrist movement. In the months following his announcement, he sought to rid it of its most unruly members, rebuild a more disciplined and focused militia and restore his own respectability, while promoting core demands – notably, protecting the nation’s sovereignty by opposing the occupation – through legitimate parliamentary means. The challenge is to seize the current opportunity, seek to transform Muqtada’s tactical adjustment into a longer-term strategic shift and encourage the Sadrists’ evolution toward a strictly non-violent political actor.....
The Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor, 7 Feb 08:

Becoming an Ayatollah: The New Iraqi Politics of Moqtada al-Sadr
Quote:
As a political and military force, Iraq’s Shiite Sadrist movement has undergone a number of radical transformations since 2003, when its leader, Moqtada al-Sadr, surprisingly emerged as a leading political figure. Al-Sadr’s recent decision to continue with his seminary studies and graduate as an ayatollah at the conservative seminary school of Najaf underpins a major change in the movement’s structure that could have serious repercussions for the future of Iraq. Against the backdrop of changing political alliances between Kurds and Sunnis, al-Sadr is transforming his movement into a new political phenomenon with implications for the country’s political structure and security dynamics. The consequences are also immense for Shiite Iraq, posing serious challenges to the conservative clerical establishment in Najaf.

Al-Sadr’s attempt to become an ayatollah follows his earlier call to suspend operations by his militia, the Jaish al-Mahdi (The Mahdi Army, or JaM) in the summer of 2007. Together with his decision to study in Najaf, this has marked a decisive new beginning in the organizational structure and leadership dynamics of the Mahdi militia. The decision to suspend JaM was made largely because of the outbreak of violence between Mahdi forces and the rival Badr Organization in Karbala in August 2007. The incident was a major embarrassment for al-Sadr, who had been seeking the support of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Shiite Iraq’s grand cleric, and the conservative establishment in Tehran against the rebellious splinter groups within his own militia since 2005. The suspension, which came in August 2007, was a way to ensure his Shiite partners that he was willing to restructure his forces for the sake of Shiite unity at a time when US—or Israeli—forces seemed to be on the brink of starting a major military conflict with Iran.....
Jedburgh is offline  
Old 02-22-2008   #18
tequila
Council Member
 
tequila's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 1,665
Default

Sadr extends ceasefire - BBC News, 22 Feb.

Quote:
Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr has ordered the renewal of the ceasefire his powerful militia has been observing for the past six months.


He announced in August that his Mehdi Army would not attack rival armed groups or American forces in Iraq.

This was widely credited with reducing sectarian tensions and contributing to the recent overall drop in violence.

BBC Baghdad correspondent Jim Muir says the government and US military will clearly be relieved by the move.
US military officials have publicly recognised this contribution of the ceasefire as helping to stabilise parts of Iraq ...
tequila is offline  
Old 03-26-2008   #19
Jedburgh
Council Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,097
Default

The Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Focus, 25 Mar 08:

Moqtada al-Sadr’s Religious Strategy Complicates Jaysh al-Mahdi Ceasefire
Quote:
.....Without the central arbiter figure in Moqtada al-Sadr, the Jaysh al-Mahdi is likely to further fragment as deeper splits are created within the ranks. Al-Sadr’s absence leaves a power vacuum susceptible to being filled by informal players. According to an Iraqi intelligence report, Iran is one of the main beneficiaries of al-Sadr’s new religious ploy. The IRGC holds great influence within a large faction of the JaM. With al-Sadr’s temporary absence, Iran may be inclined to sway JaM commanders to opt out of the ceasefire to confront Awakening Council fighters and/or U.S. troops. As an insurance policy in gaining a greater share in JaM policy, Iran may decide to further infiltrate and seek influence over militia commanders—redefining local Shiite loyalties.

External factors have much influence on what becomes of JaM. One such variable is the Awakening movement, which has developed into a militia that arguably surpasses and threatens JaM supremacy. The rise of Awakening power has contributed to obvious splits within JaM. Targeted assassinations against Awakening members have been blamed on a growing number of splintered factions from the Shiite militia. According to intelligence corroborated by sources belonging to the Awakening councils, rogue elements of the JaM have been sponsored by the Iranian Qods Force in starting “armed activities” against Awakening members.

Another variable is the potential disintegration—rather than rise—of the Awakening councils. Awakening commanders are threatening to rejoin the Sunni insurgency and back al-Qaeda if Iraq’s central government does not integrate their fighters as part of the country’s security forces with permanent payrolls. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government is resisting that call, claiming that the movement is largely made up of yesterday’s terrorists. An increase in the number of Sunni insurgents would compel Shiite militiamen to break away from al-Sadr, simultaneously pressuring al-Sadr to lift the ceasefire—a prospect leading back to sectarianism.....
Jedburgh is offline  
Old 03-26-2008   #20
William F. Owen
Council Member
 
William F. Owen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
Posts: 3,947
Default

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/mid...st/7313894.stm

Seems like things are hotting up a bit.
__________________
Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
William F. Owen is offline  
Closed Thread

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
U.S. seeks pact with Jaish al-Mahdi tequila US Policy, Interest, and Endgame 17 09-13-2007 02:27 AM


All times are GMT. The time now is 11:39 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9. ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Registered Users are solely responsible for their messages.
Operated by, and site design © 2005-2009, Small Wars Foundation