Monday, March 31, 2008

Outfoxed in Basra

The fighting continues in Basra, though some progress has been made and it is quieter today. It has been quite a fiasco and, as predicted here, has offered a clear demonstration of the “progress” that has been made in the stabilization of Iraq.

The Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al Maliki, has been directly involved. The President of the U.S. (sad to say,) George W. Bush, has spoken of this as the defining moment for Iraq’s new government. But the primary character, at least the one who has most strikingly caught my eye, is Muqtada al Sadr, who has shown himself to be the better tactician of the three.

The entire scenario was forced by al Maliki. Just why he decided that the time was ripe for this military to clean up the Sadrists is unclear, though his sectarian oriented comments indicate his personal opposition to al Sadr’s sect. Al Sadr’s reaction was quite adept.

First he declared that the actions of his supporters were not taken at his command. That immediately gave him an out if the fray went badly for his forces.

Next, he stated that the resistance would continue unless the government ceased its campaign of raids and arrests. That established him as the one who understood the confict even though "he was not involved".

Next, he urged the resisters to continue their efforts. That told them that he was still in command and appreciated their efforts even though he denied involvement.

Then, as the U.S. began to move its troops into positions around Basra, he told the resisters to stop fighting, but retain their arms while he tried to negotiate a solution. That may have saved his forces from a defeat.

In the midst of all this, al Maliki was forced to flee the city, and it is now back in the hands of the Sadrist Mahdi army which remains loyal to Muqtada’s leadership. Al Sadr accomplished all this without taking responsibility for any of it. He had established an out in case his followers’ efforts failed, but maintained a position that will allow him to reap the rewards if it succeeds.

Al Maliki is back in the Green Zone – the only “safe” zone in the country – but even there, everybody is under a “duck and cover” order because incoming shelling is common. The myth of gathering peace in Iraq has been exploded and Muqtada al Sadr has emerged the victor.

If our president had half of this man’s wits, we would never have entered into this mess in the first place.

I think the end result of this past week’s experiences will be the escalation of al Sadr’s status as a religious and political leader within Iraq and heightened pressure from his faction to gather power for him. The more power he garners, the closer Iraq will move to a theocracy similar to Iran’s, so we may once again have proven that in the long run our greedy efforts to emplace U.S. friendly governments in the Middle East are stupidly futile.

Just for fun and for those of you who said you enjoyed the little article about the White River and the boat we were building, here is a picture of the boat during its maiden voyage and the young man who owns it, Kyle Kosovich.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

No comments: