Into Sadr City


The Baghdad Security Plan is heading to Muqtada al-Sadr's stronghold

The Baghdad Order Of Battle as of February 26, 2007. Click map to view.

The absence of U.S. forces inside Sadr City, the stronghold of radical, Iranian backed Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has been a glaring anomaly to those watching the development of the Baghdad Security Plan. Iraqi and U.S. forces have focused on deploying in the mixed Sunni-Shia neighborhoods where the sectarian violence and al Qaeda suicide attacks have been the greatest. But all of this is about to change. U.S. and Iraqi forces will enter Sadr City in the next few days, establish at least one Joint Security Station, and begin clearing the neighborhoods, Reuters reports.

"We have conducted special operations in Sadr City for some months but this will be the first time we will launch full-scale operations there and the first time we will have a permanent presence there," said Colonel Billy Don Farris, coalition forces commander for Sadr City and Adhamiya neighbourhoods.

"There will be no sanctuaries in Iraq. We are going to go to every building and every house and incrementally clear the area. We will target any group that attacks Iraqi and US troops," he told Reuters.

The move into comes as Major General Bill Caldwell, the Multinational Forces Iraq (MNF-I) spokesman, announced that "talks with commanders of Muqtada al-Sadr's Al-Mahdi Army with the 'Iraqi Government's blessing,'" are now under way.

Multinational Forces Iraq and the Iraqi government are working to divide and conquer Sadr's Mahdi Army, and the upcoming push into Sadr City is but the latest move in the operation, which has been ongoing since last summer.



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READER COMMENTS: "Into Sadr City"

Posted by Michael at March 1, 2007 6:44 PM ET:

This is the most hopeful news in a long time along with the Al Anbar Sheiks turning on al Qaeda. This is clear evidence that the new Iraqi strategy is not just about a "surge" and is more about equal action and authority against all corrupt officials and terrorist thugs. We waited to long to put an American footprint into Sadr City.

Normal every day people understand this and when they see fairness on all sides, they will trust their government, and begin to put down their arms.

The oil sharing announcement is huge too. Lets hope the Iraqi Parliament acts quickly once in session.

I'd be very curious to know, besides obvious pressure, what intel showed Maliki regarding Iranian operatives in his country. And I'd be very curious to know just how far reaching some of this went into possible Kurdish and Shia areas, including possibly his own Dawa Party?

Armed with intel always helps the negotiations.

Fox News just had a fairly good report from Sadr City about the first JSS on Special Report with Brit Hume. They announced that forces would develop from south then head north. It appears Adhamiya is well sourced? So the Shia Militia will have to head north or retreat possibly east into New Baghdad?

Or do we have a good squeeze play on? Curious what the experienced readers of this blog think on this move.

One of the Iraqi Police captains interviewed on Fox indicated the people are tired of the fighting. Good, this will increase tips and chase away the thugs. Especially if construction projects can rapidly increase.

If anyone gets to see the footage, it was quite funny seeing the Sadr Mayor's face. He was a little astonished by all the Media hoopla, plus the fact that Sadr no doubt abandoned him.

The place was filthy like many areas. Just getting garbage picked up will help bring some pride back to these poor people that have long been abused by both sides of Shia and Sunni criminal gangs.

Hiring a Sadr Clean City workforce, establishing parks, etc., will help their emotions lift.

It'll be very important our military get medical and relief supplies into the area with an American face on it along side Iraqi Army. This will change perceptions of the people from that of the normal hatred they've been force fed daily by the Sadr leaders about America.

God Bless our soldiers! Great job!

Posted by Neo-andertal at March 1, 2007 7:16 PM ET:

From your daily update:
"al Qaeda has shown the capacity to 'surge' mass casualty attacks in the city after periods of calm."

They must have excess capacity to be able to pace themselves the way they do. Several bombing cells may regularly set out to attack during a period of a few days. If one or more mass attacks are successful the others can be called off and held for a couple days. Likewise, if they have trouble getting to targets extra cells may be called against targets. This makes the bombing pretty much unrelenting and gives the population no relief. In fact bombings have been paced at a fairly constant rate since March 2005. They only real slowdown was with the heavy troop presence during elections in late Fall of last year.

I still don't expect a big downturn in bombings this early. The first sign that AQ is having trouble may be a breakdown in the pacing of attacks. Intermittent periods of relative quite would be nice. I'm a little reluctant to wish for better.

Posted by Neo-andertal at March 1, 2007 7:47 PM ET:

So far I'm impressed that US and IA forces are able to press the enemy(s) throughout the greater Baghdad area and adjoining areas. From the projected troop numbers that were indicated here and at few other places it looked like this would be a very comprehensive security push. This operation is much more comprehensive than the public is aware. I believe there's room for optimism for more than just a few lulls in violence. This gives the Iraqi government the room it needs to really start taking control of the Baghdad region. I see their soon going to bring in more brigades into Baghdad. The other thing to keep track of is the need to backfill for IA units pulled out of outlying areas to cover Baghdad.

Posted by Michael at March 1, 2007 11:14 PM ET:

Caught this bit of news off reuters...

"In Stockholm, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said there would be an announcement in a few days to reintroduce 1,000 mid-ranking officers from the former Iraqi military into the new army as a "sign of reconciliation"

This is another step in the right direction. The more Sunni's are included in the battlespace taking ownership, it becomes an Iraqi vs terrorist war. I hope they get training for ethical treatment of civilians. I assume they're all screened.

What a difficult job our soldiers have.

If the Iraqi Army can pull together Sunni/Shia/Kurds/Chaldean, etc., and put aside their cultural differences, blend into a robust force that reaps major damage to all militia, criminals and terrorist, then Iraq will survive on its own without us. Much like the Turkish military has kept a lid on radicalism in Turkey and hopefully we'll form long term relationships as a result.

Our military instituted clear equality that helped to overcome racism in our own country.

The same type of function is required of the Iraqi military along cultural and ideological lines. They need some real stubborn hard asses to instill discipline and lead by example to cross over the lines of hatred, raise up leaders in ethics and protection of civilians.

Infomercials showing Shia, Sunni, Kurd, Christian soldiers working together, stating those simple facts, that they are fighting together as one Iraqi Army against all terrorist and criminals would be a unifying message to civilians.

In fact, the old Army of One slogan might be just the right advertisement agenda for the new Iraqi Military.

Iraqi Military - All for One, One for All.

We don't see Sunni or Shia, Kurd or Christians, we see Iraqis. Iraqi Army of One. One Iraqi Army for All.

Yeah, its romantic old schtick, but people believe in it, therefore it works. Media is very powerful and if you can get the right romanticism of people pulling together, it gathers momentum and individuals will start acting upon it, speaking of it.

Posted by hamidreza at March 2, 2007 2:31 AM ET:

A multi-ethnic Iraqi army is the only hope for Iraq. And the backbone has to be a strong intelligence service (mokhaberat) that would go and pickup and eliminate people like Sadr, Mahdi leaders, al-Qaeda thugs, and those who have a beef with a secular constitutional state.

US is on the right track, securing Baghdad first and bringing in qualified Baathists. That turncoat Chalabi was the guy responsible for purging Baathists from the new Iraqi army. Now we know he was a pawn of the Iranians.

Posted by DJ Elliott at March 2, 2007 3:03 AM ET:

Michael

Just to put that into context.

The only announcement in Iraqi press has been for former PILOTs of the ranks Major or below under the age of 30.

The Iraqis are starting to seriously stand up Air Force this year. 2.5x expansion in personnel planned by end-2007. Training schools are being stood-up.

Very few above the rank of Major have been allowed back and most of them were in jail/exile when we invaded.

They will be offering pensions to the other "political" officers...

Posted by pedestrian at March 3, 2007 10:34 AM ET:

This operation will probably have little impact on Mahdi Army at this moment, if most have left Baghdad in advance. What is important is what will happen afterward when the operation ends. In otherwords, 1) plans to seal Baghdad to prevent Mahdi elements to return 2) meanwhile sealing Baghdad, plans to advance into the surrounding areas of Baghdad and engage in similar operations 3) plans to advance into Basra as the final objective to eliminate Shiite extremists at last. Current operation in Baghdad is only the beginning, not an end, not an end for eliminating Shiite extremists at last.

However, if coalition ever reaches Basra to clean out the city, the Shiite extremists will probably escape to Iran. What next? If Iran does nothing, then there is no other option but to eliminate the threat from Iran by force. Sanctions against Iran is only worth prepartion to choke the regimes' budget in advance of military operations against Iran. Some advanced IEDs are built in Iran. There may be fears that Iran will do more against Iraq, but Iran has done enough damage worth a counterstrike to eliminate targets in Iran, including IED making factories, if any.

Posted by DJ Elliott at March 4, 2007 12:22 PM ET:

Basrah has already been sealed and is being cleaned out.
Called Operation Sinbad.
Only five checkpoints to get in or out of Basrah...