Sadr calls for Mahdi Army ceasefire


Muqtada al-Sadr.

Just one day after major clashes between Iraqi Security Forces and the Mahdi Army during a Shia religious celebration in Najaf, Muqtada al Sadr has ordered the Mahdi Army to halt all attacks in Iraq, including attacks against Coalition forces. The fighting in Najaf resulted in 52 killed and over 300 wounded, according to reports, and have harmed Sadr politically while placing him in the crosshairs of US and Iraqi forces.

Sadr’s aides were out in force, calling for the Mahdi Army to lay down its arms. “We declare the freezing of the Mahdi Army without exception in order to rehabilitate it in a way that will safeguard its ideological image within a maximum period of six months starting from the day this statement is issued,” said Sheik Hazim al-Araji, an aide of Sadr, while reading a statement from Sadr on Iraqi state television. The statement was backed up by Sadr’s spokesman. “It also includes suspending the taking up of arms against occupiers as well as others,” said Ahmed al-Shaibani, Sadr’s spokesman.

The major fighting in Najaf broke out on Tuesday, after police and Shia pilgrims clashed the previous day. “Gunmen believed [to be] from the Mahdi Army began firing on security forces and the Badr guards,” security officials told the Associate Press. A curfew was declared in Karbala, and the religious festival marking the anniversary of Imam Mahdi, the “12th Imam,” was canceled. Mahdi Army fighters are still said to be occupying the center of the city.

The police in the area are believed to be loyal to the Badr Brigades, the political opponents of the Sadrists. A Sadrist member of the Karbala city council denied the Mahdi Army was behind the attacks, and even blamed the attacks on “pro-Iranian groups among security forces that guard the Karbala shrines.” Shaibani, Sadr’s spokesman, also denied the Mahdi Army was involved in the Karbala fighting. The timing of Sadr’s call for a cessation of Mahdi Army activity calls these statements into question.

Muqtada al Sadr’s backdown from attacks exposes problems with his confrontational approach to both the Iraqi government and Coalition forces, as well as a weakening of his political position inside Iraq. Since Sadr fled to Iran in January, he has quickly lost operational control over elements of his Mahdi Army, which in reality is an amalgamation of criminal and ideological elements. And with this loss of control, Iran has begun to exercise more direct control over some Mahdi commanders — the Qazali brothers and the Sheibani Network, for instance — rather than control them by proxy Sadr. The elements of the Mahdi Army can be roughly described as follows.

The Mahdi Loyalists: These are the true followers and believers of Muqtada al Sadr. They receive support from Iran.

Iranian-back Mahdi Army: These groups are what Multinational Forces Iraq describes as the “rogue” Mahdi Army. As Sadr lost operational control, Iran’s Qods Force stepped in and took over direct control. The rogue Mahdi Army (along with the Special Groups, who are often one in the same) receive funding, weapons, training, and operational guidance from Qods Force, and in some cases cells are led by Iranians. The rogue Mahdi Army and Special Groups are essentially Iraqi Hezbollah.

Mahdi Criminal Elements: These are criminal gangs that fight under the guise of the Mahdi Army. This provides the criminal gangs with political cover, and Sadr the ability to inflate his ranks and wield more power.

Mahdi Nationalist: These are the nationalist, anti-Iranian elements of the Mahdi Army which largely support Sadr due to loyalty to his father. The Nationalist elements form “Noble Mahdi Army,” which have agreed to work with the Iraqi government and Coalition forces.

Allied Shia: These are Shia groups that allied with the Mahdi Army as they feared violence from al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents. These groups turned to the Mahdi Army for protection due to distrust in the Iraqi Security Forces or a lack of a security presence. Some of these allied groups have been pressed into service by the Mahdi Army. Elements of the Allied Shia are part of the “Noble Mahdi Army.”

The US has been working to divide the Mahdi Army for well over a year, and have conducted numerous operations against the extremist elements of Muqtada al Sadr’s militia — the rogue Mahdi Army, criminal elements, and elements of the loyalists. These elements have been targeted at every opportunity by US and Iraqi forces in Baghdad, Diwaniyah, Samawa, Karbala, Basra, and throughout the South.

Sadr’s call for the cessation of Mahdi Army attacks follows a recent spate of backtracking from violence in the South and involvement with the Iranians. Sadr recently denied taking part of the assassinations of the governors of Muthanna and Qadisiyah provinces. Sadr also denied conducting an interview with The Independent, where he admitted his Mahdi Army was training alongside Hezbollah. Also, despite denials of sheltering in Iran, Sadr has yet to be seen in public since the US reported Sadr fled to Iran in early July.

Sadr has a very real image problem to deal with concerning the Mahdi Army. Today’s statement calls for an end to violence in order “to rehabilitate [the Mahdi Army] in a way that will safeguard its ideological image.” The fighting in Karbala, the violent opposition to the Shia-led government, the criminal activity, and the assassinations of Shia governors are causes of great concern for Sadr. These activities are no longer being tolerated by the greater Shia community.

With the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (formerly SCIRI) and large elements of the Badr Brigades breaking away from the Iranian sphere of influence, they have a greater motivation to fight Sadr and his Mahdi Army. The actions of the Mahdi Army are giving the Iraqi government and Coalition forces greater license to target the elements of the Mahdi Army deemed as “rogue.” Sadr does not want to fall into the rogue classification.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.



  • DJ Elliott says:

    – Good news: Any member/cell of JAM that operates during this period can be called “rogue” and be immediately targetted.
    – Bad news: Any member/cell of JAM that operates during this period can be called “rogue” and thus be deniable by Sadr.
    “You can’t win,
    You can’t break even,
    and you can’t get out of the game.”
    – definition of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

  • Anti-Herman says:

    Any guestimates on the numbers in each of these groups?

  • greg says:

    It looks like the Iranians are losing control of some of their constituents. Sadr’s stock is falling fast. This is very good news for us and the Iraqi govt.As we apply pressure they are forced to do something drastic which just backfires on them the way it has on AQI. If they try and lay low for 6 months, they loose all their momentum and street cred. Bill and DJ, thank you for all you do.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Open source indicates the Iranian-backed Mahdi Army is bout 3,000 strong. I’ve seen estimates for the rest of Mahdi Army anywhere from 15,000 to 60,000, but no breakdown on the divisions.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    I am a bit of a pessimist.
    I do not like the idea of someone, that wants to be the first shia dictator of Iraq, having an out to continue plotting.
    Such leftover debries have come back to haunt US too many times in the past…

  • joe says:

    Great analysis as usual. Do you think the purported split between the Badr Corps and Iran is legitimate? I am aware of the name change from Sciri to SIIC and the announcement that they receive guidance from Najaf now instead of Qum. I am skeptical though that a force so historically close to Iran can switch sides so suddenly. Might this not be a ploy to have the U.S. fight its enemies while they consolidate power. Iran is excellent at hedging their bets. Thanks for the great reporting.

  • davidp says:

    In Pakistan, when a soldier kills a terrorist it’s denounced as “Muslims killing Muslims” and a terrible evil – so terrible that some soldiers use it as an excuse to desert, and the government surrenders districts rather than actually fight muslim terrorists.
    Here the Mahdi Army has
    a) Killed apparently devout shia mosque guards because they didn’t like how they were being treated and
    b) Caused the cancellation of the festival of the 12th Mahdi in a “Holy City”.
    This should be terrible P.R. and should be publicised throughout Shia regions of Iraq

  • anand says:

    Bill, one of your best articles. I think this is good news.
    Joe, I suspect that Muqtada/Badr/other Shia militias accept help from Iran but have their own agendas.
    Is there any indication that Sadr publicly accusing Iran of backing Al Qaeda on a couple occasions have caused the IRGC and special groups to act on their own without consulting Muqtada . . . and even at the cost of undermining Muqtada?
    This and other recent articles suggest that this might be part of what is going on. In any case, this is bad publicity for Khamenei among Iraq’s Shia.

  • the nailgun says:

    One possibility is Sadr is stopping violence now so he can reignite say 3 days before Petraeus gives his report to create a sense of things going backwards.
    The other possiblity is Sadr is just mad and trying to see logic in his machinations is a lost cause. This is his greatest weakness and strength, no one can successfully predict what he will do so hard to out maneouvre but on flip side he simply does a lot of dumb stupid things.
    I’m not sure how conducting a cease-fire helps him beyond he will allow him to accurately determine who is loyal and following orders and who is not. The US will obviously deduce the same and act on this but Sadr may not be too upset about this.
    I think the big “news” is it sounds like his organisation is about where AQI was 12 months ago in Anbar ie starting to breakdown/up. O’Hanlon and Pollack seem to be of this view too.

  • Neo says:

    We will just have to see what effect this has on violence levels and the aggressive stance we have seen from JAM in recent months. I’m not even sure what level of control Sadr has within his own organizations. As pointed out by other commenters this does give us political cover to continue to hit rogue elements within his organization. I’m for more action along those same lines. On the other hand I’m not sure there are any real dynamic opportunities within this, to take advantage of. We don’t really have the extra troops to make any sort of dramatic move against JAM while dedicating most of our effort against AQI. Even if we only got a partial stand down from elements within JAM it would be nice. We can give more attention to knocking down AQI.
    Every sign is that Sadr is in this for himself. I’m not sure he’s so keen on playing puppet to masters in Tehran. Ahmadinejad only recently made a rather bold statement that Iran was ready to step into the power vacuum of Iraq once the US had withdrawn. That couldn’t have gone well with Iraqi Shiites even those sympathetic to Iran. Sadr may also realize that a conflict among Shiites isn’t a good thing when AQI is still a power. Six months from now AQI may be a shadow of its former self. I wouldn’t put it totally past Sadr to play the US against Iran’s Republican Guard to gain a little political space for his own political ambitions. Sadr isn’t a westernized men. It’s so hard to get through the language and cultural barriers and get a read on him. I have some difficulty reconciling him as a manipulator or the contradictory fool. Both images we see frequently. I’m not even sure when the words are of Sadr or his handlers.
    There have been a number of developments over the last week. Look for things to shift a bit in the Iraqi government. Where and how much is impossible to predict but things may be changing.

  • Paul says:

    I guess I should know this, but are we targeting Sadr or are we still trying to deal with him through the political process?
    These are certainly interesting developments and it’ll be interesting to see if he is indeed using us to defeat his rival militias or just what brought about this decision.

  • the nailgun says:

    One of the ironies here, if that is the right word is Sadr essentially has the same problem we do with the National Police. We don’t really control or can rely on significant portions of NP and nor can Sadr rely on much of his JAM. The infiltrator has been infiltrated.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    US and Iraqi SOF have been targeting “Rogue” JAM for over a year now.
    MND-C is pushing further south and MGen Lynch says his oposition is half and half sunni/shia “extremists”. Finding more and more Iranian made ordinance in his area too.
    Najaf, Kut and Karbala are in MND-C AOR…

  • Neo says:

    MND-C may have the toughest job in Iraq right now.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    I would put MND-C (Babil/Karbala/Wasit/Najaf) as neck and neck with MND-N (Diyala/Salahadin/Kirkuk/Ninawa) and MND-B (Baghdad) for difficulty ATT.
    The difference is North and Baghdad are farther along in clearing ops so central has a longer term operation against a more diverse foe.
    Good news is IA 8th Div is the lead IAD and that is mostly their zone…

  • Evan says:

    We need to break Al Sadr’s image before we can cap him. I very much hope we step up operations as he stands down. Now is the chance to bury him. This won’t end until we go after IRGC in Iran anyway, they will always be able to find another puppet. Our State Dept. is negligent, if only they would actively work to undermine the Mullahs in Iran we could neuter them at home and thus reduce their activities in Iraq. Condi just doesn’t have that kind of brain power and vision I’m afraid.

  • Evan says:

    Ha! Walid Phares
    seems to agree!

  • DubiousD says:

    You didn’t really answer Paul’s question, which is mine as well. Are you saying that we *are* targeting Sadr himself? Militarily, I mean?
    If we got a lock on Mookie’s coordinates tomorrow, would someone like Task Force 145 be counted on to air strike him out of existence? Or are we deliberately avoiding going after the head of the snake… do political ends demand that Sadr be kept alive?

  • Michael says:

    Why would we want to expose ourselves to such answers? Maybe Badr or others can do the deed? So many things can happen in a confused environment.

  • Craig says:

    I believe that current political demands in Iraq require that Sadr be kept alive. Although many within his sphere of influence may disrepect him, fear him, even hate him, most probably hate the “occupiers” more. Everyone more or less knows that many in the Sadr “groups” are “rogue” and thus not much under Sadr’s control. So when the US targets those groups, it has political and mindshare cover. Targeting Sadr directly would generate some level of outrage that is probably not predictable. He has lineage and is the leader of a large number of believers – totally outside of his political & military machinations. That is the outrage we must be concerned with. We must be blameless if we ever target him. That is likely another reason he is trying to reign in his militia and appear outside the fray in Najaf. If he is to blame for Shia on Shia fighting, it certainly makes him bad enought to be more of a legitimate target, even in many believer’s eyes.
    Regarding his madness or sanity … just remember that in war, especially with the infidels, there are no rules whatsoever. Anything can be said or done to confuse or obsfucate. He will, like most leaders in the Islamic extremist world, be a master of talking out of many sides of his mouth and a master of hypocrisy (sp?) wich true believers will overlook or fail to see. Much of what he says may be for a particular effect at the moment, counting on people to have forgotten most of it in a week or two or three. Words are easy to forget, but if your followers are shooting up pilgrims from your own religion in a holy place – that could be hard to forget. He has no choice but to distance himself from that IMO. There is plenty of hatred for his strong arm tactics around Iraq from the same people who, at the same time, love his father and will therefore consider him a martyr if he is killed by coalition forces. His time may come if he steps too far off the line and the coalition believes it can justify it’s actions in taking him out to the Shia population. His stock does seem to be in a downtrend as more and more Shia see him for what he really is …

  • DJ Elliott says:

    1. Where is Sadr?
    2. You may have noticed that I am retired USN Intel Spec. I do not provide detailed comment on certain topics (E.G. Spec Ops). You do not realy retire from the Navy, you transfer to the Fleet Reserve…

  • Craig says:

    Al Jazeera’s English website has an article on this situation on the front page of
    entitled: “US welcomes Mahdi army freeze”.
    The following quotes from the end of the article are interesting:
    “Also on Wednesday, Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, said that fighters from the Mahdi army and the SIIC who were involved in the violence in Karbala had wanted to blow up the Imam Hussein shrine, one of the holiest to Shia Muslims.
    “From our initial investigation, we found some evidence of who did this act … the intention of this act was to storm into the shrine of Imam Hussein and blow it up,” al-Maliki said from inside the shrine during a visit to Kerbala, 110 km south of Baghdad.
    The Mahdi army denied the allegation. ”
    Hey, if the coalition is preventing Al Qaeda from successfully encouraging chaos and sectarian strife, maybe a well placed bomb by Iranian agents (?) could have the same effect and then the Sunni’s can be blamed.

  • Neo says:

    “Are we directly targeting Sadr?”

  • mxpwr03 says:

    Killing Muqtada al Sadr would be a major set back for MNF-I, I would even be reserved about following up on arrest warrants at this period of time. Simply killing Muqtada could have the same effect on the disenfranchised members of his community as Saddam’s killing of Baqir al-Sadr. As Iraq’s legal system develops and gathers more legitimacy from the population proper legal action could be considered. In the short-term marginalizing the rogue elements, while at the same time attempting to co-opt Sadr into the political system seems to be the best solution.

  • TS Alfabet says:

    Given the excellent comments by others that we can never be too sure about the motivations and goals of someone outside our culture like Mookie, we can, nonetheless, apply some reason that may shed some light on the situation.
    What are Mookie’s choices right now?
    Clearly, Iran is infesting more and more of the Mahdi militias as well as working steadily at infiltrating as much of the Iraqi government as possible. Notwithstanding the cultural differences, it is safe to say that, with few exceptions, people will do what they perceive will advance their interests the most. Mookie can either (a) go completely over to Iran and be a well-paid stooge, but still just a stooge; (b) dabble with the devil by using the Iranians for funding and training while trying to maintain at least some semblance of independence, i.e., hedge his bets in case Iranian influence wanes and he needs to position himself as an Iraqi patriot.
    From the past several months, Mookie seems to be playing the B side: with a foot in the Iranian camp and one in the nationalist camp. (No doubt, Iran is tolerating Mookie’s behavior for the time being, so long as he doesn’t step too far out of line). On one hand, he has spent substantial time in Iran during the last 8 months. On the other hand, he has tried to cast himself as more of a nationalist with Iraqi flags at his demonstrations. With this latest call for suspension of all military action by the Mahdis, there can be little doubt that he is trying to sort out just who will obey him and who won’t. And cleverly, he can then use the Coalition to eliminate the militias that refuse his orders, leaving him strengthened thereby.
    So far, we seem to have Mookie between a rock and a hard place: if he leans to heavily toward Iran, he places himself increasingly under their control and forfeits Iraqi support. If he distances himself from Iran, on the other hand, he must either cooperate with the Coalition (something that undercuts his raison d’etre) or he must confront the Coalition in which event his forces get chewed up and he loses power. For some reason, Mookie doesn’t seem satisfied to be a complete pawn of Iran, but he is running out of alternatives.
    It will be critical to see whether his militia responds to his directives (assuming the directives are sincere) or whether he gets his leash pulled in by the Mullahs.

  • “Mookie seems to be playing the B side: with a foot in the Iranian camp and one in the nationalist camp.”
    In all of Iraq…to call someone an Iranian is an insult. Being seen as an Iranian puppet would be a political death.

  • Neo says:

    TS Alfebet – Your (B) option looks good to me too.
    Muqtada doesn’t seem much for carefully measured actions and diplomatically worded responses either. Of course at least half his organization is an illiterate mob. I’ve never known an illiterate mob noted for subtlety and restraint. Whether Muqtada’s dramatic though frequently contradictory pronouncements mean much at this point is questionable. I don’t see a lot of connection between words and action.

  • IK says:

    I still think we need to match Mookie up with a Hellifire, or a roadside bomb if he’s even in Iraq). I know there are reasons why now is not the time, but if we’d pulled the chain handle on this turd in 2004, his rabble wouldn’t be as strong as they are now.
    There’s never going to be a perfect time, and the US is one election away from withdrawing most troops, and having a limited say as to what the future of Iraq is going to be.
    All this scheming and Machieveillan plotting to either marginalize him, or bring him to our side, would be great if the USA had the stomach for years of Iraq intrique, but we don’t. The Iranians do. They live there, and will keep using this fool to control at least the southern oil fields of Iraq. Mookie is still young, and 5-10 years is nothing for him to wait for his chance at power.
    We shouldn’t let him escape to fight another day – flush the toilet now.

  • Achillea says:

    I’m somewhat skeptical. I see ‘spokesmen’ involved, and remember Arafat used to send up trial balloons via spokesmen all the time. Then if whatever the announcement was didn’t go over well, suddenly it was ‘incorrect’ and ‘unauthorized’ (and possibly a Zionist plot into the bargain).

  • greg says:

    If you take the Al-Jazera quotes of Al Maliki mentioned above at face value “the intention of this act was to storm into the shrine and blow it up…” Then it seems very likely that the Iranian-backed rogue Mahdi faction was really attempting to cause a riot. With the goal of making the situation look out of control,increasing the calls for a quick US exit and generally sowing despair and retribution. If this is the case, let’s hope this type of behavior by Iran can be exposed for the Iraqi people (and Iranian people) to see. Can any of the commenters here suggest some smart ways that we could make Iran feel some real pain for their continued aggresion ? I know the easy answer of airstikes would probably backfire on us. I just believe that the Quods force and others are enjoying life too much these days. Can’t we make them pay a steeper price for what they are doing to our soldiers and the Iraqi people ? ?

  • TS Alfabet says:

    “Can any of the commenters here suggest some smart ways that we could make Iran feel some real pain for their continued aggresion ? I know the easy answer of airstikes would probably backfire on us. I just believe that the Quods force and others are enjoying life too much these days. Can’t we make them pay a steeper price for what they are doing to our soldiers and the Iraqi people ? ?”
    The best way to bring Iran to its knees without resorting to outright military action is to hit them in their weakest spot: oil. We must put the heat on the Saudis and others to increase production and bring the price of oil down. Without $70/barrel prices, Iran’s economy (and money to fund terror) goes down the tubes. And so do the heavy subsidies of basic commodities that the Iranian people depend upon. Get enough people angry and you have regime change.

  • hamidreza says:

    Actually DJE, the 2nd law of thermodynamics is broken all the time and you can win in the game if you expend energy. That is how photosynthesis works or how evolution or life works. The problem comes when you run out of expendible energy – that is when entropy takes over and cannot be beaten back.
    Sadr is akin to social entropy – lawlessness, extortion, protection rackets, anarchy and arbitrariness. Unless the Iraqi people go to work and fight for a decent and civil society, they will end up with a Sadr society.

  • cjr says:

    No, 2nd law of thermodynamics is never broken because the law specificly says that it is only valid for a closed systems(no energy in or out). If you expend energy, then it is not a closed system.

  • Neo says:

    Remind me to never bring up the 2nd law of thermodynamics in polite conversation.

  • the nailgun says:

    This is off Bill’s sidebar
    It supports contention that “cease-fire” enables Sadr to identify who is loyal and who is not.
    What interests me further is if this article is correct and all the JAM are off the streets of sadr city that implies a lot of faith in the surge given it would now be easier than ever for AQI to strike inside Sadr City etc.
    Could Sadr have called this cease-fire 6 months ago? I don’t think circumstances would have allowed it.

  • Michael says:

    Sadr is playing the Hezbollah game and the Hamas formerly Arafat/Fatah game.
    Bombings, shootings, kidnappings, ransom, asassinations of important leaders until ones enemies rise up to strongly, or it becomes to costly and you begin to lose. In which case, they call a “truce” or as Sadr did, stand everyone down. All of it is full out deception, and adds to the chaos. The truce is fake(a hudna) only to reorg, continue training, weaponizing, financing, propagandizing(with a finger in the wind to measure public opinion). Then, begin anew after peoples emotions have settled down a bit.
    This pattern repeats itself adinfinitum. The Iranians, Hezbollah, PLO, Hamas have it down to an artform against Israel and in Lebanon.
    Though Sadr is new to the game, he’s learning from his Iranian masters and Hezbollah is instrumental in training as well.
    Sadr, Nasrallah, met with Syrian and Iranian Presidents in Damascus after the fall of Saddam. And if I remember correctly Al Qaeda representatives were there as well. And the Baathist. The Alawite kingdom depends on this Shia triangle from Lebanon to IRan to stay in power. They all understood the stakes and have been working together. The ties that bind Syrian Alawites to Shia go back farther to a relative of Sadrs, Imam Moussa Sadr who declared the Alawites a part of Shiite Muslims.
    The history goes back far with these binding ties. So, the question is what are the next moves by Syria/Iran. Because ultimately they will risk the pawns more so than themselves.
    And the key is can America develop a counter force attractor strong enough under freedom to deny a return to a closed system, like that under Saddam.
    What our forces must do is both short and long term solutions. 1) keep the heat on in all directions, 2) train, train, train the friendly Iraqi forces as superior to any militants and in the tradition of Turkeys secular military, 3) infiltrate, gather as much intel as possilbe, turn informers, 4) develop long lasting relationships thru the Anbar initiative, hopefully providing reach into other areas, 5) split off Shia that are opposed to Iranian/Syrian nexus. 6) Convince regional partners of severity and need for us to stay in the area along with their help in building humint on the ground, 7) smuggling routes into Iraq also lead out of Iraq into Syria/Iran, turn the tables, develop them for both intel and possible future actions. 8) ramp up Irai oil exports and regional to offset Irans, 9) attack all soft structures in Iran from Finance to any psyops opportunity, 10) begin behind the scenes negotiations with China/Russia for fair share of pie once Mullahs are gone. Assure both China/Russia they will not lose in Iranian revolution and in fact gain from an open government. Create incentives. 11) plan long term air support, base structures, special ops, air defense in Iraq. 12) plan long term incentives for Kurd/Anbar participation to keep us there for protection, long term. Whereby we provide the tech power, they provide the foot power.
    Our military has successfully done this around the world before. It can be done here and our military already has good relations with Kurds and Sunni via Jordan/Saudi Arabs. Petraeus, KilCullen, and many here impress me that given time, you guys can do anything you set your mind to.
    Finally, we need to expand on the attraction power of freedom, liberty and market reform/open packages of all kinds. This includes larger roles for France/Germany to bring to the forefront more financial support and business investment. And of course the UN legitimization.
    That last part of the “Attractor” is related to the 2nd law of thermo, which DJ brought up and was discussed. We’re dealing with an open system and intelligence, once closed off somewhat like NK. In that case, while Sadr is a problem, he can be surmounted by COIN not just by targeted military ops, as is being done, but with the additional “attractor force” multiplied on Market incentives, which the PRTTs, International Investment and UN bring to the fore.
    At this point, a Unified Principle of Thermodynamics may come into play which states…
    “Closed systems which are suddenly freed, i.e. after their constraints are removed, tend to move towards a new state of equilibrium, i.e. towards an “attractor”

  • greg says:

    Michael, that was a masterpiece. I hope your strategy comes to fruition.
    TS Alphabet, I remember this strategy of having the Saudis drive down world oil prices to hurt Iran being discussed several months ago and supposedly was pushed by Cheney in a meeting w/ The king. Well I’d have to say that plan didn’t quite work. Maybe the big oil co’s didn’t like the idea of devaluing their inventories. I think long term strategy needs to focus on finding new sources of energy. I have heard that $60-$70 oil makes Canadian tar sands and US oil shale technologicaly competitive. Even if it requires govt subsidies, it would be worth it. I’d like to see something like this as part of the platforms of some ’08 candidates. We need to win this war for many reasons. If we can get energy from our own back yard, it will force these single commodity dictatorships to drasticaly change their ways or go out of business.

  • Ammo Guy says:

    Now it gets interesting. I’ve always thought that a major reason we did not encounter armed opposition when we deployed Task Force Eagle into Bosnia in Dec 95 was that the Croats, Serbs and Muslims actually believed President Clinton when he said we’d be there for only one year. To the warring parties, this respite would allow them to rest, recuperate, rearm, retrain, recruit…and so on until we left in Dec 96 when it would be back to the killing business as usual. Imagine their chagrin when we “changed our minds” and merely transitioned from IFOR to SFOR rather than “redeploy” to Germany as they expected. In the interim, we had identified all their heavy arms and equipment and sequestered such back into garrison and various motor pools where it could be counted and monitored. Subsequent discoveries of undeclared weapons resulted in their destruction and penalties for their existence outside the boundaries of the DPA. So, when the year was up, and they felt betrayed by our decision to extend the mission, it was too late for them to go back and resume hostilities without ready access to their ordnance.
    So, if we take Mookie at his word (and I trust him about as much as I trusted Karadžić), perhaps we can make enough progress in the next 6 months to make the return of him and his militia irrelevant or at least that much more difficult…or maybe I’m just the eternal optimist.

  • TS Alfabet says:

    “they call a “truce” or as Sadr did, stand everyone down. All of it is full out deception, and adds to the chaos. The truce is fake(a hudna) only to reorg, continue training, weaponizing, financing, propagandizing(with a finger in the wind to measure public opinion). Then, begin anew after peoples emotions have settled down a bit.
    This pattern repeats itself adinfinitum. The Iranians, Hezbollah, PLO, Hamas have it down to an artform against Israel and in Lebanon.”
    Good point, Michael. One difference for Iraq, however.
    In Israel and Lebanon, there is nothing like the active operations going on like there is in Iraq. Hamas, Hezbollah, Fatah can afford to call the false truces because there is little risk for them in doing so. There is no comparable Israeli or Lebanese force openly challenging them on a daily basis in their home turf. Sadr, on the other hand, by calling for a 6 month truce is taking quite a risk. U.S. forces will not be standing still for this 6 month period. In fact, to the extent that Mookie’s forces do stand down, it greatly frees up U.S. forces to concentrate on other operations and be in much better shape to take on Mookie 6 months from now if he does decide to resume his old antics. It is an active war in Iraq and even a 6 month cessation by Mookie will cost him dearly in many ways.
    Think of the loss of prestige. As one of the posters here pointed out, without the Mahdis on the street in Sadr City, the U.S. and IA forces will fill the vacuum (hopefully). 6 months is alot of time for the U.S. to build up networks in Sadr City and convince locals that they don’t need a Mahdi militia to keep them safe.

  • TS Alfabet says:

    “I remember this strategy of having the Saudis drive down world oil prices to hurt Iran being discussed several months ago and supposedly was pushed by Cheney in a meeting w/ The king. Well I’d have to say that plan didn’t quite work. Maybe the big oil co’s didn’t like the idea of devaluing their inventories. I think long term strategy needs to focus on finding new sources of energy.”
    Greg, agreed: *long term* strategy has got to be to develop and exploit alternative sources of energy. (Of course, if we had started drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska and off California soon after 9/11, we would see oil prices considerably lower now and we would be less dependent). Barring an economic meltdown in the U.S. or China, demand for oil is not going down, so bringing more oil onto the market from whatever source is the key to bringing down the overall price. I suggested the Saudis only because they are one of the only producers that have the immediate capability to bring enough additional oil onto the market to drive down prices.
    You might recall that the Saudis did this very thing several months ago and the price of oil went below $60/b. At the time, the Saudis explained that they did not think it prudent to have the price of oil so high (maybe because that *does* in fact make alternative fuels feasible). Perhaps this was a shot across Iran’s bow to warn them against meddling in “Arab affairs.” The Saudis made statements to this effect at the time as well. Iran’s response was fast and to the point: if the Saudis continued to drive down the price of oil, Iran would not sit idly by… the threat is not hard to read. The Saudis backed off after a few weeks, perhaps in response to Iran’s threats or perhaps because they felt they had made their point.
    Point being: it doesn’t matter how we bring down the price of oil, only that we do so and as quickly as possible since that directly chokes off the money for the Mad Mullahs and their evil plans.

  • Neo says:

    I think we all have our doubts about whether Sadr can actually get a six month cease fire to hold. Three weeks would be good, more a bonus. It does allow some portions of Sadr’s organization to further organize. At the same time this may pull at the edges of Sadr’s organization with some of the more radical elements splintering off and many of the more moderate sitting it out.
    I think it is in our national best interest to knock down AQI as far as possible in whatever time we have left in Iraq. If we stay only short term at least we have done that. If we stay longer than knocking down AQI is a necessary priority before we get too involved with other aspects.
    Right now I believe we are trying to squeeze out pockets of infiltrators who either remain around Baghdad or have been pushed back toward Baghdad by recent activity in the Belts. Along with the usual activities to further tighten security in Baghdad I expect at least one kinetic operation to keep AQI from settling into areas just outside our Baghdad belt operations.


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