Maliki: "Security operations in Basra will continue"


One day after Muqtada al Sadr, the leader of the Mahdi Army, called for his fighters to abandon combat, the fighting in Basrah has come to a near-halt, and the Iraqi security forces are patrolling the streets. While Sadr spokesman said the Iraqi government agreed to Sadr's terms for the cease-fire, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has said the security forces will continue operations in Basrah in the South. Meanwhile, the Mahdi Army took heavy casualties in Basrah, Nasiriyah, Babil, and Baghdad over the weekend, despite Sadr's call for the end of fighting.

Maliki was clear that operations would continue in the South. "The armed groups who refuse al Sadr's announcement and the pardon we offered will be targets, especially those in possession of heavy weapons," Maliki said, referring to the 10-day amnesty period for militias to turn in heavy and medium weapons. "Security operations in Basra will continue to stop all the terrorist and criminal activities along with the organized gangs targeting people."

The Iraqi military said it was moving in more forces into the South after admitting it was surprised by the level of resistance encountered in Basrah. "Fresh military reinforcements were sent to Basra to start clearing a number of Basra districts of wanted criminals and gunmen taking up arms," said Brigadier General Abdel Aziz al Ubaidi, the operations chief for the Ministry of Defense. "Preparations for fresh operations have been made to conduct raids and clearance operations in Basra ... [and] military operations would continue to restore security in Basra."

The reasons behind Sadr's call for a cessation in fighting remain unknown, but reports indicate the Mahdi Army was having a difficult time sustaining its operations and has taken heavy casualties. "Whatever gains [the Mahdi Army] has made in the field [in Basrah], they were running short of ammunition, food, and water," an anonymous US military officer serving in South told The Long War Journal. "In short [the Mahdi Army] had no ability to sustain the effort.

TIME's sources in Basrah paint a similar picture. "There has been a large-scale retreat of the Mahdi Army in the oil-rich Iraqi port city because of low morale and because ammunition is low due to the closure of the Iranian border," the magazine reported.

McClatchy Newspapers indicated a member of the Maliki's Dawa party and the leader of the Badr Organization, the military wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, traveled to Qom, Iran to lobby Qods Forces officers to get Sadr to halt the fighting. The trip "had two aims, lawmakers said: to ask Sadr to stand down his militia and to ask Iranian officials to stop supplying weapons to Shiite militants in Iraq." The two men met with Brigadier General Qassem Suleimani, the commander of Iran's Qods Force, the foreign special operations branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.

The Mahdi Army has also taken high casualties since the fighting began on March 25. According to an unofficial tally of the open source reporting from the US and Iraqi media and Multinational Forces Iraq, 571 Mahdi Army fighters have been killed, 881 have been wounded, 490 have been captured, and 30 have surrendered over the course of seven days of fighting.

Baghdad

There have been few reports of clashes in the Shia districts of New Baghdad, Sadr City, and elsewhere on Monday. US and Iraqi security forces killed 48 Mahdi Army fighters during a series of clashes throughout Baghdad on Sunday. US and Iraqi security forces captured at least 22 Mahdi Army fighters in Baghdad. Twenty of those were captured in Sadr City. An unknown number of Mahdi Army fighters in the Iskan and Washash neighborhoods have gone against Sadr's demands to keep their weapons and have surrendered them to the military in accordance with the amnesty offer issued by Maliki.

The Iraqi government has lifted the curfew for much of Baghdad, but Sadr City remains under curfew. "Terrorist groups are trying to exploit the current situation, and target the residential compounds there," said Dr. Ali al Dabbagh, the spokesman for the Iraqi government.

Today, Mahdi fighters targeted the International Zone in central Baghdad with mortars and rockets. No casualties have been reported.

The official spokesperson for the Baghdad Health directorate for eastern Baghdad said 109 people have been killed and 634 wounded during the past week of fighting. "This is only in Sadr city, and according to the statistics from the two local hospitals Imam Ali and al Sadr," Qassim Mohammed told Voices of Iraq.

Basrah

The Mahdi Army has vacated the streets of Basrah and the Iraqi security forces have begun to reassert control throughout the city. Fighting in Basrah has been fierce, with the Mahdi Army putting up stiff resistance in some neighborhoods it controlled prior to Sadr's call for the end of fighting.

Prior to the end of fighting, Iraqi security forces overran the eastern neighborhood of Tanuma and surrounded the central Timimiyah neighborhood as US and British forces pounded Mahdi Army positions, McClatchy Newspapers reported. "But the Iraqi security forces still couldn't penetrate the vast Shiite slum of Hayaniyah or al Qibla, two Mahdi Army stronghold of Basra." Some Mahdi Army fighters said they would continue to fight Iraqi security forces despite Sadr's orders.

The Mahdi Army has also taken heavy casualties in Basrah. "The Iraqi security agencies killed 210 gunmen, including 42 dangerous criminals, while 600 others were wounded and 155 captured since the commencement of a military campaign in Basra," Major General Abdul Kareem Khalaf told Voices of Iraq on Monday. "Security agencies seized a large amount of weapons including developed explosive charges, and dismantled three car bombs and 80 improvised explosive devices."

Nasiriyah

After days of heavy fighting, the strategic city of Nasiriyah is under control of the Iraqi government, a US military officer told The Long War Journal. "Nasiriyah is approximately 90% under the control of the Iraqi security forces," the officer said. The Iraqi forces have only received assistance from a small team of US advisers assigned to the police. The government has ordered the curfew to be eased in the southern city, while a Sadrist leader called for followers to "abide by [Sadr's] directives" and put an end to the fighting.

The Mahdi Army took heavy casualties in the fighting for Nasiriyah, according to the provincial governor of Dhi Qhar. More than 85 fighters were killed, 200 were wounded, and 100 were arrested, said Governor Aziz Alwan, noting that the figures have not been finalized. Seven police were reported killed and 44 wounded during the fighting. Twenty-eight 28 civilians were killed and 60 wounded, many after the Mahdi Army launched mortar attacks on a civilian neighborhood.

The Dhi Qhar police have relieved a police unit of its duties, Voices of Iraq reported. "A 60-member police unit was sacked in al Fajr district, 100 km north Nasiriyah for neglecting their duty during the clashes with armed groups," the deputy commander of the provincial police said. It is not clear if the police unit refused to fight or sided with the Mahdi Army.


For more information on Iran's role in the Iraqi insurgency, see Iran's Ramazan Corps and the ratlines into Iraq and Targeting the Iranian "Secret Cells." For more information on the Mahdi Army, see Sadr calls for Mahdi Army cease-fire and Dividing the Mahdi Army.



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READER COMMENTS: "Maliki: "Security operations in Basra will continue""

Posted by Joseph Sixpack at March 31, 2008 3:48 PM ET:

I love it! Great talking points by Maliki. He recognizes that Sadr still has some following, so he casts the continuing crackdown on JAM as a crackdown on rogues who are beyond Sadr's control. Tough for Sadr to argue against that! I have said from the start that our trump card is the fact that the brain of Petraeus is bigger that the rear of Sadr.


"The armed groups who refuse al Sadr's announcement and the pardon we offered will be targets, especially those in possession of heavy weapons," - PM Maliki

Posted by DJ Elliott at March 31, 2008 6:22 PM ET:

solidpoint

Your comment shows your ignorance.

Iran is an arms exporter. Only two languages are used in markings in the arms market. English and Russian (Cyrillic).

Iran has always used english language markings on its ordanance.

Note: Iranian Army divisions are also still organized to a modified 1976 US Army TOE...

Posted by Richard1 at March 31, 2008 6:24 PM ET:

So, the question I have is, whose side is Iran on in this?

Posted by Marlin at March 31, 2008 6:27 PM ET:

Major General Abed Al-Aziz, who is the spokesman for the ISF, held a press conference today. He made a couple of statements I found illuminating.

What was the plan in Basra?

The plan was not set to fight any political trend. It was not set to fight JAM or any other political trend. The plan was set after the commanding operation chief commanding operation in Basra held meetings with tribe leaders and citizens in Basra. And he asked the people in Basra and the people asked the chief to eliminate those criminal groups and armed members that control several resources in Basra.

How could we distinguish JAM and other members, armed members? Actually, when we conduct a raid or we search a certain area at the beginning and especially on 25th March and when the troops went to Al-Jumhuriyah area, we didn't have any bombing prior to that, just like any other operations. The operation that we did was a cordoning; that is, to close the entries of the city, then conduct a search operation-a house-to-house search-so that we can find any weapons and wanted individuals that is based on intelligence reports and also arrest warrants from the court.

How does the ISF distinguish who they should attack?

When those armed groups open fire against the Iraqi Security Forces, this is the way we would distinguish. So, when the Iraqi forces conduct a search operation and receive fire, this is the way we distinguish them. The Iraqi Security Forces tell the Iraqi citizen, "Do not open any fire," and they have been told to remember the human rights. And even if we received fire, we told the soldiers not to respond to fire unless they stop first. So, we can distinguish those groups by the way they behavior or the way they behave.

McQ has written a very good post about the interview.

Q and O: There may be another explanation for what is going on in Iraq

Posted by skigjc at March 31, 2008 6:34 PM ET:

As usual, if you read Reuters and AP, this was a great victory for Sadr and the ISF did not perform well. Same as in Afghanistan; they consistently report the 1,000s killed and then mention later that most were Taliban fighters.

Posted by Neo at March 31, 2008 7:14 PM ET:

Anyone notice how quiet Northern Iraq got during all of this? It was headed in that general direction, but it got especially quiet during the fighting in the south. I don't think it was just lack of news either. It's as if all the Sunni militants were preoccupied all week watching a football match.

Mahdi's 1
Maliki's 1
Game postponed after first period due to Irain.

OK, that was low budget.

Posted by Michael Whitehead at March 31, 2008 9:34 PM ET:

As with everything in Iraq there are multiple layers of motivation and conflict being played out. Lacking good, hard information we must look to fundamentals.

Maliki, having started this fight, must finish it. I am curious as to why he chose this particular moment to pick this fight. Hopefully Bill could ask one of his sources to comment on the rationale.

What is clear to me is that Maliki's objectives in initiating this operation are more political than military. Yet, to get the political gain he must achieve the military win.

Posted by Dan R. at March 31, 2008 9:55 PM ET:

Well, well .... Guess things aren't really going to hell in a handbasket after all, huh? Looks like on the whole, Nouri Al-Maliki, the Iraqi Army, and the Iraqi government are all gonna get a significant boost out of this entire affair.

Al-Maliki: Comes across as a strong, decisive leader. Didn't settle for half measures in the face of resistance but is instead pushing forward. Has probably elevated his standing significantly among kurds and sunnis, since this shows that he's willing to confront shia thugs as well.

Iraqi Army: Took on the Mahdi Army and kicked its butt with minimal outside help. U.S. involvement was limited to a few airstrikes and some artillery support. This has to be good for the IA's morale as well as it's prestige among the Iraqi population.

The Iraqi central government: Proved that it's able to confront and defeat challenges to its authority, even in places like Basra that are a lot closer to Iran than Baghdad.

All in all, I'd say this has been a pretty good week.

Posted by Anthony at March 31, 2008 11:59 PM ET:

The numbers of Mahdi army causualties are very encouraging, but what number of casualties did the IA suffer?


As Dan says, it is very encouraging to see that the IA has performed well, and only needed help in areas that it doesn't have much capability in yet - namely air and artillery.

Posted by Steve-o at April 1, 2008 1:53 AM ET:

Imagine the American military losing 3,000 soldiers during the first six days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, halting operations, petitioning for a ceasefire and declaring--Victory!

Posted by Michael at April 1, 2008 9:16 AM ET:

Steve-o,

Think past history and ancient tribal conflicts, family conflicts and Catholic/Protestant wars. Or even recently Irish/English that went on forever. And before that the Scottish/English wars. Or the French/English.

Many times, some good people and admittedly many bad people call for peace. Truth is they all share similar heritage, religion and often bloodlines thru marriages. Thus, often both sides will decide not to battle, because often they're losing brothers and cousins in battles on both sides.

The good news is Maliki is stating he is going forwards against the criminals who refuse to follow Sadr's orders. If he were to continue bombing people that put down their weapons and stopped fighitng, the American and Western Press would crucify him.

Bill, DJ and others here wisely picked LWJ for a reason. Political will is weak in the West and the people we're fighting live with ancient value systems that have largely been lost to us since many of us forget our own tribal heritage and roots.

It was not long ago that tribes fought the English Crown. My family roots trace back to tribes that did so in Scotland. They often called for peace, regrouped and fought again on both sides.

Frankly, I cannot stand it. But it is a complex war unlike WWII. We cannot do today what we did in Germany and Japan. The world would forever condemn us. In fact, many already are.

This is COIN and fighitng COIN takes time, patience and cultural ties. Yes, Maliki could do exactly what Saddam did. He could create a mini-genocide against his enemy Shia Sadrist. But then that would make him yet another Saddam and with our military on ground, they'd never allow it.

Posted by Neo at April 1, 2008 9:31 AM ET:

Here's a relatively straight-forward way of putting it. How many times in history has an armed faction won by abandoning the field of battle to the opposition? Not many! Only a post-modernist would argue otherwise. I'm not sure on what bases, but trust me they will argue otherwise.

The contention that Maliki and the IA were loosing is mostly based on the level of violence and chaos in Southern Iraq, especially the level of confusion in Basra. In order for that argument to hold, the level of violence and chaos must be maintained long term, not just for few agonizing days. The Iraqi army now controls part of Basra where a few days ago there was no governance. The Mahdi army has scampered off and hidden somewhere under Iraq.

Maybe the MSM thinks that Sadr held out long enough to make special rhetorical bonus points with the intelligentsia. There's no such thing as scoring rhetorical points on a battlefield.

Posted by AMac at April 1, 2008 9:40 AM ET:

Sorry, text in my 9:31am comment didn't format correctly. The quoted text makes my point, that we've become like Alice-in-Wonderland. Somebody is inviting us to peer through the Looking-Glass -- either The Long War Journal is misinforming its readers, or NPR and similar media organs are misconstruing the situation in Iraq to mainstream listeners and readers of its news products.

So, again --

This morning, National Public Radio ran a 4-minute report on "Morning Edition" on the fighting, painting a picture that is the opposite of the situation as described by Bill Roggio. The title of Dina Temple-Raston's piece is Failed Offensive a Blow to Iraq's Prime Minister (audio and edited text at the link).

--- begin quote --

Six days [after vowing to crush al-Sadr's militia, al-Maliki] ended up suing for peace with people he described as "worse than al-Qaida." Now he is weakened, and dealing with the aftermath.

...four members of the Iraqi parliament quietly traveled to the holy city of Qom in Iran and hammered out a cease-fire. The week drew to a close with hundreds of Iraqis dead, the prime minister weakened and Sadr stronger than ever.

--- end quote ---

The sole expert quoted by Temple-Raston is Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group. The ICG's analysis of the fighting aligns exactly with NPR's: Embarrassed U.S. Starts to Disown Basra Operation.

Back to NPR:

--- begin quote ---

"It doesn't look very good for Mr. Maliki, launching a campaign and giving an ultimatum to the Sadrists and then accomplishing nothing," said [Hiltermann]: "Already there are rumors in the Green Zone today that ... Adel Abdul Mehdi, one of the senior leaders of the Supreme Council" will be the next prime minister.

... "Clearly, the Iraqi security forces cannot stand on their own. They have shown they cannot in this internal policing effort, and they certainly cannot defend the country, which is what an army is supposed to be doing," Hiltermann said. "The United States provided air support and some Special Forces support for the campaign in Basra, and that didn't clearly tip the balance.

... In the Green Zone, where the U.S. Embassy and Iraqi parliament are located, diplomats were holed up all week - having to take cover from a barrage of mortar shells and rocket attacks that rained down on them.

... The Iraqi Health Ministry said nearly 500 people were killed and 900 were wounded in the latest fighting. One resident from Baghdad's Sadr City, which saw some of the fiercest battles, bitterly said Maliki was no better than Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein... Maliki went on Iraqi television Monday night sounding more humbled than defiant. Among other things, he asked the people who stole government vehicles during the violence to please return them.

--- end quote ---

So, as informed by NPR, American voters should think:

* Operation Knights Assault was a complete failure for the GOI and PM al-Maliki.

* The Iraqi Army stumbled into the fighting and was roundly defeated by the JAM, in Basra and Baghdad.

* Complete IA defeat was only staved off by US rescues.

* The fighting ended thanks to parliamentarians traveling to Qom and hammering out a cease-fire under the good offices of the Iranians.

* Shades of Saigon 1975, US diplomats cower under a barrage of shells in the Green Zone as al-Maliki teeters.

* The fighting initiated by bumbling government forces killed "hundreds" / "nearly 500" people, presumably civilians (there is no mention of JAM casualties).

* Independent experts agree with the "Failed Offensive" interpretation (only Hiltermann was quoted).

* Iraqis now view al-Maliki as no better than Saddam.

* A humiliated Prime Minister went on TV yesterday to beg the victors to return government vehicles.

Temple-Raston describes the fighting as "[having] to do with political parties jockeying for position ahead of provincial elections in October."

Fair enough.

But is there enough room for honest, informed, accounts of the past week as divergent as Roggio's and Temple-Raston's? Or should her reporting be described as having to do with partisan journalists working to frame the terms of the Iraq debate ahead of Presidential elections in November?

Posted by DJ Elliott at April 1, 2008 9:48 AM ET:

People do not flock to join a losing army...

http://news.yahoo.com/nphotos/Iraq/ss/events/ts/082701iraqplane/im:/080401/ids_photos_wl/r553295461.jpg

Posted by Anti-Herman at April 1, 2008 11:39 AM ET:

Bill/DJ

Lot's of speculation on who "won" and who "lost" this past week. However, is this speculation the result of a "western" outlook? Also, was this past week an attempt to clarify the various militias and their force level in Basra?

Posted by DJ Elliott at April 1, 2008 12:09 PM ET:

The problem with most of the pundits is they are inventing their own terms of victory/defeat.

Reality:

In a COIN operation,
if the government is in control of the ground at the end,
how they got there,
how many casualties,
what deals, etc
are inmaterial.
They won.
For the government, Control is the objective and the objective is being achieved.

If survival is victory: Then JAM acheived a phyrric victory. They lost too much for no real gains. The new recruits are joining the winner (IA).

The rest is chaff...

Posted by Michael at April 1, 2008 12:13 PM ET:

DJ,

Excellent point on recruitment. In Basra, 1000s of men wait to register as applicants to the Iraqi Army in the link you provided.

Simple and well-stated point. The Big dog won and it did so in a way unlike Saddam. As long as the IA is the voice of reason, restraint, discipline and treats equally all sides, IA will grow in stature. If IA clears out criminal gangs and mafioso, frees up markets and brings stability, eliminates ransoms and phony security payments from militias and gangs, IA will grow in stature as a fair arbitor of justice on the streets.

The key is to get the same equal justice under law in their police forces. It appears to be a mixed bag for the police, with some success and some failures. But the IA appears solid now, which is really yet another victory step.

Posted by Michael at April 1, 2008 12:16 PM ET:

OT - FYI webmaster,

Comment posting for the last several days is receiving intermittant messages of "Not Found" - required document cannot be found.

Causes loss of comment.

I copy now for backup. Once it happens, it then repeats same message several times before the comments are viewable again for posting.

Posted by Anti-Herman at April 1, 2008 12:21 PM ET:

DJ

How do you see Sadr in the future?

I have read that we can't just kill him even if he wasn't in Iran. However, he can't continue to lose prestige and stay legit.

Also, how many JAM are actual thug/ dedicated wacko's/ guys looking for a paycheck?

Also, both you and Bill seem to see the IA's performance as satisfactory?

Posted by DJ Elliott at April 1, 2008 12:39 PM ET:

- IA is getting good. Still some flaws but, they are working them thru...
- IP is at least two years behind the IA and has some serious housecleaning to do. This event has helped ID who needs to be purged and will accelerate that process.
- Sadr is self-destructing. His best bet is to go over to strictly political and convert the JAM. But, he cannot do that easily. Catch 22. He does not have complete control. Much of JAM is criminal in nature and he needs to lose that 60%.

Posted by Marlin at April 1, 2008 12:40 PM ET:

There was a second press conference held by Dr. Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman for the Iraqi government and Major General Lua Aziz, spokesman for the ISF, today. For those who are interested McQ does a very good job of deconstructing the press conference and offering instructive commentary on what it means.

Q and O:
Iraqi government says operations in Basra will continue

Posted by Steve-o at April 1, 2008 1:46 PM ET:

Apparently I wasn't clear in this post above: "Imagine the American military losing 3,000 soldiers during the first six days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, halting operations, petitioning for a ceasefire and declaring--Victory!"

Al Sadr is the one who lost many, petitioned for ceasefire and declared a false victory, with the help of his minions in the media. (He does has one point, in his world survival is victory of a sort.)

Michael wrote: "This is COIN and fighitng COIN takes time, patience and cultural ties. Yes, Maliki could do exactly what Saddam did. He could create a mini-genocide against his enemy Shia Sadrist. But then that would make him yet another Saddam and with our military on ground, they'd never allow it."

Agreed, carry on.

Posted by Trevon at April 1, 2008 2:33 PM ET:

The men flocking to the join the IA is very instructive indeed. In the Middle East it's more important about who appears to be the winner as apposed to who's right. Clearly, many Iraqis think the IA won.

Posted by Marlin at April 1, 2008 3:08 PM ET:

Retired Major William "Mac" McCallister spent more than four years in Iraq, much of it as an advisor to the Marines on Iraq's tribes and culture. He advances an interesting theory on what might be happening with al-Maliki and al-Sadr.

2. On the other hand do not discount the likelihood that IA [Iraqi Army] are targeting rogue JAM [Jaysh al-Mahdi, Sadr's militia] units that failed to rally to Sadr in the last 6 months. A number of reports implied that one to the reasons Muqtada al Sadr initiated the cease fire was to verify loyalty of JAM militias to OMS. Those that did not respond may well be the "target audience". If this is the case then I am inclined to believe that Maliki and Muqtada al Sadr are in communication to "manage the violence".

[...]

Conclusion. This is a punitive expedition only. The short-term objective is to assist Sadr in ridding himself of rogue elements so as to make him a more stable long-term political partner and more reliable participant in governance. The Maliki government, although it seeks to consolidate its hold on power knows it can not do so without the help of Sadr. The intermediate objective is to maintain Sadr as a viable and potential political ally for he is needed against the numerous groups also seeking greater influence such as Fadilah, Hakim family, Sunni tribes and the Kurds. The long-term objective will be determined as this thing plays itself out.

Wired: Did Maliki do Sadr a Favor in Basra?

Posted by Ant-Herman at April 1, 2008 3:51 PM ET:

April 1

Perhaps DJ will respond. However, why do you think a few mortar and rocket rounds are that important?

The best guess is that they were fired to give the media some sort of "Tet" dramatics.

Posted by rob at April 1, 2008 5:18 PM ET:

If this was such a great campaign for Maliki, why are all his allies deserting him? Why did members of his own Dawa party go to the conference in Iran to arrange the agreement with Sadr? Why have so many Iraqi politicians characterized it as a failure?

I'm not saying you're wrong, but you need to take up your points with the Iraqi political establishment. A few more successes like this will bring down the Maliki government in short order unless you can convince his parliamentarians how successful it's all been.

Posted by bubarooni at April 1, 2008 5:26 PM ET:

they actually killed quite a few civilians outside the green zone as a lot of rounds fell short.

neither the shelling of the green zone or crappy targeting by the sadrists would qualify as new or unexpected events. the tempo stepped up but the results, outside of the smoke it generated both in the green zone and in the msm, where on the whole not very spectacular.

importance of the shelling pales in comparison to the drubbing the sadrists took on the ground in regards to losses of men. the sadrists are paid tribal militia. tribal elders don't care for their guys getting whacked the way they were. i'd wager they are wondering if they're betting on the wrong horse in this race.

Posted by Marlin at April 1, 2008 10:42 PM ET:

Wretchard has a few snippets of Stratfor's take on the battle against al-Sadr. I find it interesting that George Friedman (no Bush fan) isn't buying the notion of an al-Sadr victory either.

A massive battle broke out between two Shiite factions in Iraq. One, led by Abdel Aziz al-Hakim - who effectively controls Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki due to the small size and fractured nature of al-Maliki's party - confronted the faction led by Muqtada al-Sadr. Clearly, this was an attempt by the dominant Shiite faction to finally deal with the wild card of Iraqi Shiite politics. By the weekend, al-Sadr had capitulated. Backed into a corner by overwhelming forces, apparently backed by U.S. military force, al-Sadr effectively sued for peace.

The Belmont Club: Pakistan, intelligence mediocrity, Stratfor on Sadr

Posted by Michael at April 1, 2008 10:57 PM ET:

A quick congratulations to Bill, Hanusz, DJ and crew at PMI on a well written article.

http://www.cjr.org/profile/blogging_the_long_war_1.php?page=all

all the best in the future to your endeavors ahead

Posted by Marlin at April 2, 2008 9:37 AM ET:

Glenn Reynolds has a very informative e-mail posted from a Colonel in Baghdad this morning. To me the two paragraphs that stood out were:

The unclassified, open-source, bottom line is this: The insurgent attacks did not happen "in spite of" the surge. Insurgents attacked in Basrah where foreign military influence is fanning the flames of discontent over the lack of essential services. People in Basrah are upset because they don't have access to clean water, sewage, trash removal, or fuel for cooking and transportation. They know who to blame, but they don't know who to turn to to fix the problems. They lashed out, Maliki's government moved to squelch it, and the Coalition stayed largely on the sidelines. OK, we provided targets. And maybe we helped a little, if you count helicopter gunships and Predator UAVs. But essentially, this was an internal Iraqi affair.

I wish you could have heard General Petraeus' steady response as the situation unfolded: very deliberate, yet calming. It was quite dramatic here, and a lesser leader might have over-reacted. I anticipate that some members of our own society will use this spate of violence to claim the surge failed and call for our immediate withdrawal. That would be a terrible decision based on a tragic misreading of what just happened.

Instapundit: Whittling Away At Sadr

Posted by RedInTexas at April 2, 2008 10:50 AM ET:

Austin Bay has a good commentary on the Basra fighting at RealClearPolitics. From the article - 'The Iraqi way often appears to be indecisive, until you learn to look at its counter-insurgency methods in the frame of achieving political success, instead of the frame of American presidential elections.

In southern Iraq and east Baghdad, Sadr once again lost street face. Despite the predictable media umbrage, this translates into political deterioration.

Think of the Iraqi anti-Sadr method as a form of suffocation, a political war waged with the blessing of Ayatollah Sistani that requires daily economic and political action, persistent police efforts and occasional military thrusts. '