Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Batter Up!

Iranian-backed Shias are now viewed by our military as the rising main threat in Iraq:

Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker have concluded that Shiite extremists pose a rising threat to the U.S. effort in Iraq, as the relative influence of Sunni insurgent groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq has diminished drastically because of ongoing U.S. operations.

This judgment forms part of the changes that Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, approved last week to their classified campaign strategy for the country, which covers the period through summer 2009. The updated plan anticipates shifting the U.S. military effort to focus more on countering Shiite militias -- some backed by Iran -- that have generated new violence as they battle for power in the south and elsewhere in Iraq, said senior military and diplomatic officials familiar with the plan.

I called this trend at least a couple years ago, with an emphasis on Iran's role in making this shift the rising threat. Not that other Sunni enemies were broken, but I figured they'd spent their bolt and couldn't defeat us--just go through the motions of killing, dying, and losing.

The Shia thugs backed by Iran were clearly the future threat to be beaten even two years ago. And with the Sunnis finally admitting defeat and defecting to the government's side, leaving the foreign-led jihadis hanging, by default the Shia thugs rise as a relative threat.

We keep knocking down the main threats. We will run out of them, right?

UPDATE: Strategypage writes about the transition:

Before the Summer ended, it was possible to shift many American combat units to the battle against Shia warlords. There are two of these, both backed by Iran; the Badr Brigades, and the Mahdi Army. While Iranian backed, the two organizations are still Iraqi, and keen to see a strong and independent Iraq (run by a religious dictatorship, with one of the two warlords pulling strings behind the scenes.) The two warlords (Abdul Aziz al Hakim, who commands the Badr Brigade, and Muqtada al Sadr, who controls the Mahdi army) are competing to be the kingmaker, but first have to get past the majority of Iraqis who don't want a religious dictatorship (they can see how badly that works next store in Iran), and don't want another warlord, like Saddam, taking over the government. Hakim and Sadr are seen as Shia Saddam wannbes, and both men are frantically trying to shed that image.

Keep in mind that over the last few years, Sadr has squandered whatever wide public support he had posing as a Shia nationalist after his August uprising was put down by our forces. His organization abused and stole enough to lose support. And they didn't stop Sunni Arab jihadis from slaughtering Shias in car bombs. Widespread perception of him as a Persian pawn didn't help either among the Shias.

We have to support the majority of unorganized Shias who oppose a religious dictatorship while we destroy the death squads and criminals posing as Shia patriots under the Sadr and Badr banners.