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Powerplay


Jaafari's allies denounce the Hayy Ur raid while MNF-I disputes the allegations of an unjustified assault

Weapons discovered by the 2nd Battalion, 1st Iraqi Special Operations Forces Brigade during an operation in northeast Baghdad March 26 to capture or detain suspected insurgents included two RPG launchers, five RPG Rounds, one RPG-7 sight, three, AK-47s, multiple magazines filled with ammunition, and one ammunition can with RPK heavy machine gun rounds. Click to enlarge. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Earnest Christian).

The political maneuvering has begun in the aftermath of the raid on the Mahdi Army headquarters in the Hayy Ur neighborhood. Jawad al-Maliki, an ally of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and spokesman for the United Iraqi Alliance, has called "for a rapid restoration of (control of) security matters to the Iraqi government," according to Reuters. Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty reports "Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr today described the killing as 'unjustified.' Baghdad provincial Governor Husayn al-Tahan said he has suspended cooperation with U.S. forces until an independent investigation can be carried out."

Reuters also reports Abd al-Karim al-Enzi, minister of state for national security, has decried the attack as a crime, inflated the casualties and basically equated the operation to that of a death squad; "At evening prayers, American soldiers accompanied by Iraqi troops raided the Mustafa mosque and killed 37 people...They were all unarmed. Nobody fired a single shot at them (the troops). They went in, tied up the people and shot them all. They did not leave any wounded behind." The United Iraqi Alliance has canceled Monday's talks on the formation of the Iraqi government.

Multinational Forces - Iraq continues to dispute claims such as those made by al-Enzi, and has photographs which demonstrate the "husseiniya" (again, which can be a mosque, a prayer room or just "a place of Hussein") did contain weapons, and that Iraqi troops were indeed involved in the operation. Omar at Iraq The Model provides further evidence the Sadr militia was in the room, and not innocent 'worshippers'; ; "However, the best evidence that proves that members of Mehdi army were inside the building came from a prominent Sdarist parliamentarian and spokesman of the Sdar trend; Baha' al-Aaraji told al-Hurra this evening that 'worshippers from inside the besieged husseiniya talked to us in person on the phone and asked for help '. So I wonder why would 'innocent ordinary worshippers' have the personal phone numbers of parliament members and Sadr office officials?"

A Soldier from the 1st Iraqi Special Operations Forces Brigade secures a small weapons cache. Click to enlarge. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Earnest Christian).

It should be noted that the Iraqi politicians condemning the raid in Hayy Ur are allies of Jaafari and Muqtada al-Sadr, and the various other political groups (the Kurdish alliance, the Sunni groups, Allawi's secular party and even SCIRI) have remained silent on this issue.

The raid on Sadr's milita should not be viewed as an isolated event, but as part of the continuing struggle to form the Iraqi government. The issue of the militias, and particularly Sadr's Mahdi Army, as well as Sadr's influence in the government, has come to a head. Last week, we discussed the creation of the Security Council, as well as a potential split between SCIRI and the United Iraqi Alliance over the selection of Jaafari as prime minister:

The Iraqi Security Forces continue to take on more of the security responsibility. And in an encouraging sign of political progress, the Iraqi politicians have agreed on the creation of a Security Council designed to "give each of the country's main political factions a voice in making security and economic policies for a new government..." and is "expected to set policies governing the army and police, the counter-insurgency campaign in Sunni Muslim Arab areas and the disarmament of Shiite Muslim militias accused of sectarian killings."

Two Soldiers from the 1st Iraqi Special Operations Forces Brigade secure a small weapons cache during an operation in northeast Baghdad March 26. Click to enlarge. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Earnest Christian).

Also, there is talk that SCIRI may break with the United Iraqi Alliance and join with Kurdish, secular Shiite and Sunni parties to nominate Abdel Mahdi as prime minister. This would override the UIA's appointment of Jaafari, and reduce the influence of the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army militia is thought to be behind much of the Shiite-led sectarian violence. While this has not been confirmed, it certainly demonstrates the various parties are willing to discuss options, despite political or sectarian differences.

The initial reaction of Sadr and Jaafari's allies in the Iraqi government are likely a ploy to wrest further control of the Security Council and ensure Jaafari's appointment as prime minister. The opposing political parties, including elements within the United Iraqi Alliance, may be horrified by the stature Sadr's thugs are being given. The United Iraqi Alliance is by no means a monolithic bloc, and Jaafari's nomination was approved by a slim 64-63 vote. The Hayy Ur raid may actually serve to break the deadlock which has settled over the formation of the new Iraqi government, one way or another. And one has to wonder if that wasn't by design. As we stated yesterday, the Coalition has been telegraphing this move for some time.



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READER COMMENTS: "Powerplay"

Posted by wendy at March 27, 2006 1:17 PM ET:

It seems to me we have problems here. This looks like it's going to make the Iraqi government more divided with some factons even angrier at us.

And these are factions we depend on for the success we claim. Many of the areas in Baghdad and the south we say are "peaceful" are controlled by these thugs.

I'm bothered that so many in the comments seem to think Sadr is easy to deal with. This underestimation of difficulties is the cause of most of our problems.

2 years ago he caused a lot of trouble. We had partial victory, but we did not arrest him like we promised. We let him enter government. His power has grown.

2 years ago we were essentialy forced to back down with a 2 front war and protests from the center stressing our forces. It wasn't war protesteors here or the MSM which stopped the attack on Falluja (which the 8,000 mile screwdriver ordered agaist the desire of the Marines (or at least the commanding officer Conway) and then cancelled againt their desires,) i was the fact that we'd had to cobble together units to deasl with the Sadr rebellion we set off at the same time, had to deal with increased attacks on transports and had our appointed Iraqi government and much of their public in uproar. We decided the mess over there (not here, there was little uproar) was more than we wanted to try and push our way through.

Sistani also exterted his power and showed he could order us.

Now we are potentially facing that kind of situation again in a much more volatile and well armed environment and the morons on the right are acting as though it's trivial.

Hopefully it will work out to the best and we will dance on the situation in a way that works to our and Iraq's advantage. But for people to encourage the president, Rumsfeld and the rest in their delusion that you don't need to think about these things, that you can just give a few orders and the Sadr problem is gone is a shared delusion that we can no longer afford governing our society.

Posted by Lisa at March 27, 2006 1:51 PM ET:

This Portion of Report Above from Bill it States:

It should be noted that the Iraqi politicians condemning the raid in Hayy Ur are allies of Jaafari and Muqtada al-Sadr, and the various other political groups (the Kurdish alliance, the Sunni groups, Allawi's secular party and even SCIRI) have remained silent on this issue...

Why are they remaining silent?

Lisa

Posted by Soldier's Dad at March 27, 2006 3:14 PM ET:

From my own perspective, I don't see the problem of Moqtada AlSadr as structurally different than dealing with any other leader of a crime ridden, segregated, impoverished neighborhood any where else in the world.

Whenever the police do anything to address the crime problem, the community leaders almost always rise up and condemn the police.

Not addressing the problem leaves street gangs in control of the streets, with various members, of various gangs, being dumped in the street on a regular basis.

The estimates for number of "gang members" in LA in 1999 were 60,000. In 1995 where were more than 800 gang related murders in LA.

Posted by dj elliott at March 27, 2006 3:51 PM ET:

The big point is that this was not a US operation.

1st SOF Bde of the Iraqi Army did the raid. That required the new Security Council's authorization.

The only ones talking are the Al Sadr political supporters and they are worried about what is next.

Two years ago we had multiple serious problems and no real Iraqi Army.

The current Iraqi Army is 1.5x as large as US/Allies forces in country and is respected and trusted by the majority of the population.

The police is a problem that is being corrected.

The Sunni's are cutting a deal to end the fight.

The situation is very different now than before and the housecleaning of the leftover troublemakers BY THE IRAQI ARMY has begun.

Posted by ECH at March 27, 2006 4:12 PM ET:

Why did we let Sadr become politically just about the most powerful man in Iraq? He has more seats in the UIA then any other block (when you include the Sadrists who vote in UIA meetings who are actually outside the UIA)

Iraq the Model talked about the UIA's cheating in depth in the elections months ago. We should have had strict oversight of the elections, but we left it up to the IEC (out of fear we would be seen as rigging the elections) and the IEC simply became an arm of the UIA.

He has the blood of thousands of Iraqis and over a hundred Americans on his hands and he laughing at us, because he knows that the administation isn't going to go after him.

Sadr and Zarqawi have been making each other stronger since early 2004. Each attack by the Shia against Sunnis or by the Sunnis/Jihadists against Shia helps Zarqawi and Sadr. Zarqawi's plan in his 2003 letter to Bin Laden is simple, but potentally very effective. He knew with a couple thousand followers and allies he could never beat the US, but if he got the Shia to "show their rabies" in his own words to the Sunnis then he could mobilizes Sunnis by the millions to war and turn Iraq into a destabilized country where terrorists can come, train, and plan attacks overseas.

Sadr and Zarqawi continue to be the biggest threats to Iraqis future and they are threats that can't live without each other. If the Sunnis didn't fear being destoryed by the Shia Zarqawi would no longer have a base in Iraq. If Shia didn't fear being taken over by the terrorists and Baathists Sadr would have very little power.

Posted by blert at March 27, 2006 4:35 PM ET:

What is happening is so sensitive that much information is being blacked out.

This action appears intended to disrupt Sadr's militia. It seems more like a nudge than a punch.

It clearly demonstrates who will be coming after Sadr & Co: the Iraqi Army.

One can only hope that some helpful intel was obtained from this operation.

Posted by hamidreza at March 27, 2006 5:02 PM ET:

There is a propaganda war going on. If the US and the Iraqi Army / MOD cannot flood the airwaves with the facts of the raid, then they have lost the skirmish, the military win not withstanding.

It should not be difficult to have a strong voice in Iraq. People are generally reasonable and if you provide them with reasons for the raid and the facts of the raid, that will serve to discredit Mookie and Jeffrey. For example, there should be resident witnesses put on TV that explain how this death squad operated from that building and how they are happy to see it destroyed.

No matter how sensitive this matter is, the war is at the propaganda level, and not at the skirmish level. If you want UIA to split, then it will not happen when millions of Shiites come to believe that this den of a death squad was a mosque and where worshippers were tied up and executed by Americans in cold blood. Few people outside Iraq may believe this. But inside Iraq rumours, conspiracy theories, disinformation, psyops, gossip, etc. rules.

I do not know much about the effectiveness of information dissemination inside Iraq. Can Bill provide us with some insight as to the effectivenes of Coalition communication in side Iraq?

Posted by Cruiser at March 27, 2006 5:36 PM ET:

I think it is much too early to declare that this is part of plan to "take down" Mookie. I just don't think we or the Iraqi military are in any position to add another front in the ongoing combat.

It seems to me that this was probably only what the US claimed it was - a necessary operation to capture insurgents/terrorists. It also may function (secondarily) as warning that Iraqi Army and the US can apply some pressure on Shiite groups who get too far out of control.

I doubt that the pressure has much credibility - given that if we go after too many Shiites we will be run out of the country (or into Kurdistan) on a rail. But, I am buoyed by the fact that Mookie himself has not gone all hellfire an brimstone about the raid. Either he thought the targets had gone too far or someone has a boot on his neck (or he just hasn't had time to work up his theatrics).

The US administration has just managed to get our casualty levels down and it clearly has no stomach for sending those numbers skyward by picking a fight with a significant number of Shiites (even if the IA is doing some of the fighting).

Posted by hamidreza at March 27, 2006 5:38 PM ET:

dj elliott, blert, it is not clear from my reading that this was an IA operation. There were IA soldiers involved, in cordon and security, but the actual storming and clearing of the building, I figure, was most likely a US job.

16 people were captured. 1 kidnapped victim was freed. Put them on TV. Show the weapons cache. Show pictures of IA in the operation. This has to go on Iraqi TV, not just on foreign websites.

Posted by Lisa at March 27, 2006 6:12 PM ET:


I agree that this message we see here should be presented loud and clear throughout the provinces of Iraq. If these things are true and the operation is being used as a propaganda tool causing setbacks on talks to create a stable Iraq then the message must be corrected. Also political and holy leaders that stand for a free Iraq must speak out.


Posted by dj elliott at March 27, 2006 6:18 PM ET:

hamidreza:
Were their US involved? -absolutely.

US SOF is the trainers/advisors to the IA 1st SOF Bde. They are imbeded with this force.

32 CDO BN is their Ranger equivalent, the cordon force and 2 CT BN is the takedown/hostage rescue unit.

This is not the first time they have rescued a hostage.

Just the first time that Sadr's bunch were their target.

They are not as green as most of the Iraqi Army.

And I know of no better training than OJT.

Posted by ECH at March 27, 2006 6:24 PM ET:

I think its time to take out the Iranian militias. It will end the democratic process as we know it, but the democratic process is already dead because Sadr and Harkim will not allow for future free and fair democratic elections in Iraq. The last one according to Iraq the Model was a farce almost to the level of Iran's elections.

Its time we backed the Sunnis and secular politicians and take out the pro-Iranian fools that hate America and the West almost as much as al-Qaeda.

U.S. troops defend raid, say Iraqis faked "massacre"

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/MAC479911.htm

Rival Shia groups Unite After Mosque attack

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1741014,00.html

Posted by dj elliott at March 27, 2006 6:25 PM ET:

On the subject of getting the word out. We have got to fix that or we will loose.

Posted by Soldier's Dad at March 27, 2006 7:20 PM ET:

If AlJazeera isn't buying the innocent worshippers story than somehow I doubt many Iraqi's are either.

AlJazeera -

"A clash at a mosque in eastern Baghdad between gunmen and US and Iraqi army forces may have left as many as 22 people dead."

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/8D4F2A2E-F77D-46EA-9485-33B01319D041.htm

Posted by ECH at March 27, 2006 7:27 PM ET:

Soldier's Dad,

Sadly, the vast majority of Shia in Iraq have become radicalized to the point they will believe almost anything their religious leaders tell them. Think of the US right after 911 times a hundred and then get rid of the education for the US public and make them very religious and you have the Shia today.

Don't believe me? Just read some of the blogs from Shia in Iraq like the one below.

http://hammorabi.blogspot.com/

Posted by Soldier's Dad at March 27, 2006 8:55 PM ET:

I'm thinking this has more to do with the various reports than anything else

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20060327/D8GK62EO0.html

"The aides to Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim said U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, had asked their boss during a meeting Saturday to personally deliver the message to al-Jaafari."

Moqtada's political power is derived from the fact that he is the swing vote behind UIA's nomination of Jaafari. Jaafari only got the nomination for PM by one vote within the UIA and none of the other parties want Jaafari. Jaafari can't get the 2/3rds he needs to be the Prime Minister. If the alternative candidate within the UIA is nominated, then the Kurds and Sunni's become the power brokers, and Moqtada goes back to being the dumb thug that he is.

Posted by hamidreza at March 27, 2006 9:41 PM ET:

OK, the Reuters Alternet's article makes it clear that the raid was carried out generally by Iraqi special operation forces. I am pleased to see their effectiveness. Only one injury sustained.

Soldier's Dad,

Al-Jazeera is repeating most of the stuff put out by the Shiite factions.

Details and facts must now be broadcast in Iraq quickly - or this incident is going to hurt the US more than it will hurt Sadr. In fact Sadr can benefit from this as yet another martyr. Is there a video of the machine gun shooting from the building and the Iraqi forces entering? Is there a video demanding surrender of the insurgents? And why not?

It looks that US should have a camera crew alongside, everytime it goes against the Shiites. The capacity of a Mulla in Ketmaan (staying in closet) and Taqqiya (political lying) should not be underestimated.

The irony is that about 100 get killed per day. Nobody makes a fuss about it. Many of these are killed by Sadr. But now everyone, and especially western poststructural idiots (Juan Cole, NYT, Guardian, etc.) are going to make a huge fuss about this.

Unless US gets its act together, it will lose, if not already have lost, the propaganda war.

By the way, Hammorabi is an Islamist (Shiite) website. The Imam Hussein story, full of idiocy and Islamic imbecility, is something no secular minded Shiite would give a hoot about. But it is prominent at this website.

Posted by Neo-andertal at March 27, 2006 9:44 PM ET:

How SCIRI and the Iraqi army react to this is key. If the Iraqi army doesn't flinch and SCIRI stays silent than Sadr is in trouble. If things start breaking the other way and SCIRI stands behind Sadr than making a government looks unlikely.

Posted by Lisa at March 27, 2006 11:37 PM ET:

I can't believe that this will break our backs! After soooo much contraversy thus far and THIS is going to be the tipping point?! THIS!!!
I thought it was imperative that we win this war! If we do not win we have just took out Saddam and gave Iran a new country for them to rule!
God help us! We can't leave it broken. I may not agree with how or why we went there but nevertheless we are there and for the worlds sake we cannot leave now!
If we must use cameras following the military to report what is going on, then do it but for goodness sakes don't leave it broken. It appears that many there are using any and all methods to prevent Iraq becoming a free democracy. Should we not at this point use any and all methods to assure that Iraq succeeds or is what I am hearing that democracy and Islam cannot succeed...

Lisa

Posted by Soldier's Dad at March 27, 2006 11:54 PM ET:

Hamidreza,

Keep this truism in mind

"A lie travels around the world twice before the truth gets it boots on."

Posted by peterb at March 28, 2006 12:04 AM ET:

Lisa:

I don't think it's a tipping point. I don't think the Shiites are planning a rebellion. I just think it's a power play by Jaafari and Sadr like Bill described. I don't agree with a lot that Bill says but I think he's on the mark on this one. However, I do think Iraq has now crossed the threshold and is currently engaged in a Civil War. I make this assertion based on the fact that daily casualties are now as high on a per capita basis as during the Lebanese Civil War. 100 per day is a Civil War. The best hope for Iraq right now is that a government of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds is formed and that they have enough credibility with their people that they can successfully bring this violence under control. Civil Wars can be long and they can be short. It depends on a lot of things. Hopefully, this is one of the shorter ones and not a 25 year battle like some have been.

Posted by peterb at March 28, 2006 12:10 AM ET:

Iraq has had several successful elections in the last 3 years. I wonder if Muqtada, Hakim and Jaafari are planning on holding new ones ever again or if those were the last Iraqi election we will ever see in our lifetimes.

Posted by Lisa at March 28, 2006 12:18 AM ET:

I will be posting some quotes for all to ponder...

George Herbert Clarke, ed. (1873-1953). A Treasury of War Poetry. 1917.

102. Optimism

By A. Victor Ratcliffe


AT last there'll dawn the last of the long year,
Of the long year that seemed to dream no end,
Whose every dawn but turned the world more drear,
And slew some hope, or led away some friend.
Or be you dark, or buffeting, or blind, 5
We care not, day, but leave not death behind.

The hours that feed on war go heavy-hearted,
Death is no fare wherewith to make hearts fain.
Oh, we are sick to find that they who started
With glamour in their eyes came not again. 10
O day, be long and heavy if you will,
But on our hopes set not a bitter heel.

For tiny hopes like tiny flowers of Spring
Will come, though death and ruin hold the land,
Though storms may roar they may not break the wing 15
Of the earthed lark whose song is ever bland.
Fell year unpitiful, slow days of scorn,
Your kind shall die, and sweeter days be born.

Posted by ECH at March 28, 2006 12:23 AM ET:

Iraq has had several successful elections in the last 3 years. I wonder if Muqtada, Hakim and Jaafari are planning on holding new ones ever again or if those were the last Iraqi election we will ever see in our lifetimes.
-------------------------------------------------

The last election was fixed in the south of Iraq as I knew it would be. The IEC was a joke and there is no way Harkim and Sadr weren't going to cheat. Iraq the Model had a quite a good report about that in January.

I want Iraqi stability right now, I have no allusions that we are going to have a real democracy in Iraq for a very long time.

Posted by Lisa at March 28, 2006 12:26 AM ET:

QUOTATION: Ideology, politics and journalism, which luxuriate in failure, are impotent in the face of hope and joy.

ATTRIBUTION: P.J. (Patrick Jake) O'Rourke (b. 1947), U.S. journalist. repr. In Give War a Chance (1992). "The Death of Communism," Rolling Stone (New York, Nov. 1989).

Posted by Lisa at March 28, 2006 12:36 AM ET:

QUOTATION: War contains so much folly, as well as wickedness, that much is to be hoped from the progress of reason.

ATTRIBUTION: James Madison (1751-1836), U.S. president. "Universal Peace" (January 31, 1792). W.T. Hutchinson et al., The Papers of James Madison, vol. 14, p. 207, Chicago and Charlottesville, Virginia (1962-1991).

Posted by Lisa at March 28, 2006 12:45 AM ET:


Declaration of Independence


The fundamental document establishing the United States as a nation, adopted on July 4, 1776. The declaration was ordered and approved by the Continental Congress and written largely by Thomas Jefferson. It declared the thirteen colonies represented in the Continental Congress independent from Britain, offered reasons for the separation, and laid out the principles for which the Revolutionary War was fought. The signers included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and Jefferson. The declaration begins (capitalization and punctuation are modernized): "When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the Earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new govenment, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

It was hard to find quotes with the words war and hope in them together but I found some. Then I found this one...the best one of all.
Lisa~:>)

Posted by Lisa at March 28, 2006 12:54 AM ET:

ECH,

Then if Iraq choses not freedom and democracy, if they chose to live under tyrants and rulers, if they chose this then they have lost a most precious gift.

Posted by Soldier's Dad at March 28, 2006 12:54 AM ET:

Peterb,

"I make this assertion based on the fact that daily casualties are now as high on a per capita basis as during the Lebanese Civil War."

Iraq has 158,000 square miles. The bulk of the violence is contained within about 1,000 sqaure miles.

Posted by hamidreza at March 28, 2006 12:57 AM ET:

ECH - your points are well taken. There is no question that SCIRI, Sadr, and Dawa, and their cohorts rigged the elections in the south. I believe 20 - 40 of their 130 seats is totally illegitimate.

Why did US allow this to happen? US should have seeked a UNSC mandate to put UN in charge of the elections. Of course, UN would then have to defer to the Coalition to see the election through. The IEC was totally dominated by Shiite Islamists, and they manipulated the vote, generally by intimidating and bribing the voters, or by attacking campaigners, during the election. Then what they were not able to get through intimidation, they did through outright rigging.

Its like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse. Now US is paying for this. And as you say, the moment US goes out, the elections will be terminated once for all. This is exactly what the reactionary anti-war crowd wants to see. They believe a repressive misogynistic Islamic dictatorship is suited for the "orientals", cause "it is their culture that we don't understand".

Soldier's Dad - your truism is certainly true everywhere, except the Middle East. The truth and facts has as much traction there, as the best crafted and fabricated lies. Did they not move the bodies into one pile, and then send the Shiite camera crew to tape the "execution"?

Now they have a tape, and US has nothing but an interview of the top general. Do you really believe that the average illiterate Shiite is going to believe the US general who killed his own kind, rather than the mollas and government videos that show the bodies piled up execution style? I don't think the average Iraqi Shiite will even get to hear with the US general says, to begin with.

Posted by ECH at March 28, 2006 1:12 AM ET:

The US didn't want to do it itself as they feared they would be accused of rigging the election. The US also didn't want to ask the UN as there is still this two sided petty animosity between the UN and the US that has been present since the start of the war.

I also think they had this stupid notion that because Allawi didn't cheat in the January election that the UIA wouldn't cheat eather.

Basically, it was a huge mistake. It won't guarantee that Iraq will never see a free and fair election for the next several decades, but the mistake made it significantly more likely.

Posted by JAF at March 28, 2006 8:51 AM ET:

It seems like every week there is a new "tipping point". Falluja I, UN bombing, Sadr uprising, assassinated politicians, Samara mosque, mortar attack that killed 800 as they fell of the bridge, suicide bombings at religious festivals, failure to create the government after the first elections, the constitutional referendum, the third elections, this, that, the other. It seems like there is always a tipping point.

Posted by nds at March 28, 2006 9:22 AM ET:

I just want to shout out to Bill Roggio who is best reporter in the country. I put up a benjamin to send the man to Iraq and it was the best one I spent all year.

Posted by Lisa at March 28, 2006 9:26 AM ET:

hamidreza,
This incident is barely on the media radar here...
I think we will just have to wait and see if Iraq wants to be free as the final choice is theirs. We cannot not know what is coming in the future.
As far as "Why did the US allow this to happen?"- we went their to free them from Saddam which gives them a fair chance at freedom and progress. We did not go there to control their politics and police the country, that is their job. Or at least it should be. However, we find ourselves in positions that were unexpected and American blood has fallen on Iraqi ground... I think that is a hell of a lot the United States has done for the Iraqi people!
The Iraqis have to really desire freedom...we can't actually "give" them freedom. It is their choice.

Posted by C.S. Scott at March 28, 2006 9:27 AM ET:

I do not know much about the effectiveness of information dissemination inside Iraq. Can Bill provide us with some insight as to the effectivenes of Coalition communication in side Iraq?

Hamidreza, I can only speak for this particular instance but I am told that al-Sadr's group had video cameras and almost immediately portrayed the events in the manner they wanted to and sent it to the media. The U.S. military, taking time to sort through the details as they always do, didn't get anything out on the raid for 5 hours. As Rumsfeld says, "A lie will make it around the world eight times before truth has a chance to put its boots on."

Posted by ECH at March 28, 2006 11:13 AM ET:

Lisa,

The US has been trying to install checks and balances so that Iraqi democracy survives and fools like Sadr (who threaten to kill people inside and out of the UIA) who don't vote his way are an incredible obsticle to that. The biggest check we forgot to make on the political process was that we didn't make sure free and fair elections were held.

Posted by ECH at March 28, 2006 11:16 AM ET:

The Iraqis have to really desire freedom...we can't actually "give" them freedom. It is their choice.
----------------------------------------------

You have to understand Islam. Most Iraqis want whatever and will do whatever their religious leaders tell them.

Its the religious leaders that are the problem in Iraq not the people. Not suprisingly Sadr killed the most western senior cleric in Iraq in 2003. We should have made him pay for that, we didn't and its biting us big time.

Posted by peterb at March 28, 2006 11:46 AM ET:

Soldier's Dad:

The same was the case in Lebanon. Most of the countryside was peaceful and a great deal of the violence took place in the capital and a couple other cities.

Posted by Lisa at March 28, 2006 12:39 PM ET:

I still maintain that Iraqi people have to forge their own nation and I know from history that if that is what they really want, freedom, then it will take years of strife to make it reality. My cousin said that they are helping birth a nation there. I agree. However while we can help ease the labor pains and even feel that pain, provide comfort when possible, we cannot be a part of the actual delivery process...this is left up to the people that desire or are pushing for a new and free nation.

Posted by hamidreza at March 28, 2006 3:52 PM ET:

CS Scott: ... I am told that al-Sadr's group had video cameras and almost immediately portrayed the events in the manner they wanted to and sent it to the media. The U.S. military, taking time to sort through the details as they always do, didn't get anything out on the raid for 5 hours.

Well, did the US also have a video camera, or is it going to be "I said this, and he said that fingerpointing"?

Does US have a video combat unit to ascertain the facts to a skeptical audience who are totally prejudiced, and where rampant nationalism goes unchecked?

As said before, truth in M.E. Islamic culture does not have the same meaning as we come to understand it in the west. Ideology (such as religion) has more meaning to many in that part of the world - and many (if not most) people arrive at their knowledge not through the facts, but through ideology. These are the realities that you can only skip at your own risk.

Posted by hamidreza at March 28, 2006 4:06 PM ET:

Lisa writes: "The Iraqis have to really desire freedom...we can't actually "give" them freedom. It is their choice.

The implications of this is that they will install misogynistic, repressive, and absolutist Shariah law, and one man dictatorship for life, not only on the few Islamist fanatics, but on the whole country and many generations to come. The implications of this is that dissidents to clerical rule will be assassinated and eliminated for the next 50 years, while we watch and scratch our heads. The implications of this is that a radical anti-west regime will emerge that will spend billions of dollars that you pay for the gasoline you consume, at $65 a barrel instead of $3 a barrel, which will then be used to fund the Islamicization of North America and Europe.

Lisa, have you ever seen a bunch of raggedly and rebelious children and teenagers go and organize their own school, set up their own curriculum, and bring in their own teachers, and then attend the classes?

Whenever you think children should be organizing their own schooling system, free of outside adult help, then I will agree with you.

Posted by C.S. Scott at March 28, 2006 11:26 PM ET:

As said before, truth in M.E. Islamic culture does not have the same meaning as we come to understand it in the west. Ideology (such as religion) has more meaning to many in that part of the world - and many (if not most) people arrive at their knowledge not through the facts, but through ideology. These are the realities that you can only skip at your own risk.

I couldn't agree more and managing the media aspect of the war has largely been a dissapointment.

Posted by foreign devil at March 29, 2006 3:45 AM ET:

I remind you all that this is the third close encounter the US and coalition troops have had with Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army in Black. The first time the US fought them to a standstill and were pulled off. That was back while Paul Bremmer was still around. Then there was a second confrontation with this 'Mehdi Army' and this time the US marines DID go in after a ferocious fight of several days. Inside the mosque were bodies...about 200 of them...tortured and one was partially burned in a pizza oven. Most of the bodies, chidren included, had their HANDS TIED BEHIND THEIR BACKS AND HAD BEEN EXECUTED.

Now lo and behold, what do we find after this latest encounter with the Mehdi Army inside a mosque? Dead bodies, tortured and WITH THEIR HANDS TIED BEHIND THEIR BACKS. Only one person operates that way. One. Muqtada al-Sadr.

He has had these people killed...murdered because they were already captive...and then has tried to blame the US forces by saying they went into the mosque.

No one who has read of the other encounters with Muqtada al-Sadr's forces or the man himself, can have any doubt who's responsible for this outrage. He needs to be eliminated. This man is a danger to the planet. He is Iran's 'man on the scene'.

Posted by TallDave at March 30, 2006 2:41 PM ET:

This is nothing. Remember Fallujah?

The road ahead in Iraq is clear. Now it's just a question of whether we have the will to walk it.

That is, there are no more major contingencies or failure points ahead (like elections, removing Saddam, etc; the idea of civil war on a large scale is a joke). Between the liberalizing process of democracy and the superior firepower/training of the IA/Coalition, the problems will slowly be ground away.

It's fairly amazing that so few people seem to understand this; I can only attribute it to the near-total lack of perspective in reporting (for instance, the MSM carried virtually nothing about the extinction of no-go areas that occurred in 2005, esp. along the river ratlines, which was probably the most critical non-political development in the country and the war in that year). Of course, later on it will all have been obvious.

Posted by Eduardo at March 30, 2006 8:45 PM ET:

All these problems are due to the terrible mistakes that Rumsfeld made at the beginning of the occupation. The first rule of military occupation is to eliminate all opposing armed forces. Alas, we failed to eliminate 1) Baathists insurgents 2) al Queda 3) numerous criminal gangs 4) Shiite militias. The result is these groups are today fighting it out, and blocking the establishment of a government.

Posted by DWMF at March 31, 2006 9:17 AM ET:

Foreign Devil wrote:

"Now lo and behold, what do we find after this latest encounter with the Mehdi Army inside a mosque? Dead bodies, tortured and WITH THEIR HANDS TIED BEHIND THEIR BACKS. Only one person operates that way. One. Muqtada al-Sadr.

He has had these people killed...murdered because they were already captive...and then has tried to blame the US forces by saying they went into the mosque."

Yes. I am amazed that no-one else has picked up on this - at least in the MSM and the Blogosphere (maybe someone has, but I haven't found it). I am glad that the Coalition Forces and the New Iraqi Army are at last going to wind up Fatty and the Death Squads. Fatty is not above killing his own men if he can frame the US Army in the process. I still think the bomb in the Shi'ite Mosque was down to him, not Zarquawi. This is the way he thinks. Reichstag.