Monday, April 28, 2008

The Subliminal Round Three

You know, I keep writing that if Sadr goes for Round Three in uprisings against the government of Iraq and our forces (the other two being in April and August 2004 when we killed the Mahdi Army at impressive kill ratios), that Sadr will be waxed once more.

Given the campaign that has been going on since Knight's Charge a month ago, can we say that Round Three is going on right now even as Sadr continues to threaten to unleash his boys?

Shiite extremists lobbed more rockets or mortar shells at the U.S. protected Green Zone on Monday as American and Iraqi troops engaged militants in the most violent clashes in weeks in Baghdad.

Abrams tanks were used to repel attacks on two army checkpoints, killing 22 militants in one clash late Sunday, the U.S. military said on Monday. Sixteen other militants were killed Sunday in separate firefights.

The militants apparently were taking advantage of a sandstorm that blanketed the capital on Sunday, which enabled them to shell the Green Zone that houses the U.S. Embassy and much of the Iraqi government on the west side of the Tigris River.

And no mention of American casualties. Recall that Saddam's Fedayeen thought that they could take advantage of a massive sand storm in the invasion. We slaughtered them all up and down our line of march, then. We did the same again this time.

The Mahdi Army just doesn't have the power to defeat the Iraqi government.

Strategypage writes that the Mahdi Army is being ground up in this campaign:

The dozen or so factions of the Mahdi Army vary in their loyalty to Sadr, or to political solutions. Several of the Mahdi Army factions are basically criminal gangs masquerading as religious zealots. Sadr denies he is a pawn of Iran, but as Mahdi Army houses are captured, more Iranian weapons and equipment show up, as well as religious propaganda from Iran. Iraqi president Maliki has told Sadr that the offensive would halt if the Mahdi Army surrenders all its weapons, stops attacking, or trying to infiltrate (by joining) the security forces, and hands over members wanted for crimes. So far, Sadr refuses, probably because many of his followers would turn on him if he tried. But Sadr also realizes that the Iraqi soldiers and police are capable, eventually, of grinding the Mahdi Army into nothingness. Another month or so of fighting and the Mahdi Army will be no more.

It seems that Sadr retains more support in Sadr City than in Basra and other regions in the south, where residents free of fear have turned on the Sadrists. But that support just means more Sadrists will die before admitting defeat.

UPDATE: The Sadrists took a heavier beating than initially reported. Our forces killed 34 more around Sadr City on Tuesday:

The deaths brought the number of militants the U.S. says it killed since a flare-up of violence on Sunday evening to 79.

Our losses were 4 in a separate mortar attack, but no KIAs apparently in the gun battles.

So you can see why the Sadrists might want to ally with the more proficient al Qaeda in Iraq killers:

Respected Iraqi writer and lawyer Suleiman Hakim (a prominent writer regularly published on the leading Iraqi politics and culture website Kitabat ) reported on April 11 — more than a week before Sadr and Abu Ayyub made their threats — about serious negotiations taking place between Sadr’s movement and a leader of the Islamic army group.

They fought alongside in 2004, true, but then the Baathists thought they held the leash on al Qaeda, which was a growing power inside Iraq. Now al Qaeda is on the run with Sunni Arabs rejecting al Qaeda. And the Iraqi security forces were far weaker (half disintegrated in the spring uprising) four years ago.

The Shia Sadrists must be fairly desperate for some type of credible armed might if they are reduced to teaming up with Sunni Arab jihadis who are so hated that even Sunni Arabs now fight them.

Allying with Persians and Sunni terrorists, which will alienate Sunnis and Shias in Iraq, seems to pretty much rule out the thought that the Sadrists hope to take control of Iraq in another uprising. Right now, the Sadrists must simply be looking to survive as an armed entity during the current Subliminal Round Three, hoping there might yet be a Round Four. With the Iranians proving incapable of saving them, the Sadrists are turning to the only other game in town--the jihadis.

Bad career move, I'd say. Mookie won't be coming home from Iran any time soon if this report is true.