Sadr and Najaf

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by Annie, May 28, 2004.

  1. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    I hope this is correct: http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/001687.php

    May 27, 2004
    Another Roll Of The Dice, In Najaf This Time
    The CPA and the Bush administration rolled the dice again today, reaching a negotiated settlement with radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Under the agreement, the Americans and al-Sadr's al-Mahdi army will both pull back from Najaf as well as Kufa and allow Iraqi civilian authority to once again take control of the cities:

    American forces and guerrillas loyal to the radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr agreed today to pull back from the holy Shiite city of Najaf, in a deal that signaled the end of a seven-week-old stand-off that has left hundreds of Iraqis dead.
    The agreement, hammered out between Mr. Sadr and Iraqi leaders and approved by the Americans, calls for the Mahdi Army, whose fighters have held the city since April 5, to put away their guns and go home, and for the American forces to pull most of their forces out of the city. Under the agreement, the Americans can maintain a handful of posts inside the city and may still run patrols through the city center.

    The deal also applies to the nearby city of Kufa, the site of Mr. Sadr's mosque.


    What did the CPA trade for peace? The warrant on al-Sadr. The CPA agreed to spike al-Sadr's arrest warrant and allow the Iraqis to deal with the murder of a rival, more moderate cleric in Baghdad shortly after its fall. The agreement also allows the Shi'a to guard their holy shrines but maintains a mostly-disarmed al-Mahdi army as a potential problem, but one for the Iraqis to handle after the transfer of sovereignty.

    Is this a smart trade? Possibly. Unlike Fallujah, where the insurgents were mostly of the Sunni minority, the Shi'a comprise the most significant factional block, especially important in an Iraq with a representative government. While al-Sadr never sparked Shi'a loyalty -- his followers were small in number and not particularly bright -- his close proximity to the holy shrines made a lot of Shi'a in Iraq and elsewhere extremely nervous. And like it or not, these are the people with whom we must build relationships if we want to succeed in Iraq for the long term.

    The agreement appears to me to be designed to save as much face on both sides as possible, and as the NY Times article indicates, has the fingerprints of Shi'ite imam al-Sistani all over it. Al-Sistani is hardly an ally of al-Sadr; in fact, the two are bitter rivals for Shi'a supremacy, and in that internecine political battle, al-Sistani provides the best hope for a reasonable relationship. In fact, he gave the CPA considerable political support in just keeping quiet about the effort to stamp out al-Sadr and his militia, even when the fighting began to drift near the shrines. However, al-Sistani threatened to pull his support if the Americans weren't willing to compromise in order to end the fighting, and at this delicate stage, losing al-Sistani would be a mistake.

    Also consider that in five weeks, the Iraqis have to be responsible for their own security, and even the Governing Council had been objecting to the continuing mission to kill or capture al-Sadr. At best, we had a month to go before the mission would be shut down by a sovereign Iraqi government and their security forces, which we have to support politically. In order to beat the deadline, it looks like we would have had to force our way into the mosques, and that would have changed the political landscape in a way that would make Abu Ghraib look like a Sunday picnic.

    In this agreement, we defuse the immediate problem and reintroduce civilian authority to both cities, negating the "justice" system that started the problem in March. We wind up supporting the secular government and force the radical Islamists to retreat from their holiest towns; even though al-Sadr remains free, that result will not impress the faithful of his congregations. It also bolsters al-Sistani politically, and while we may later regret that, at this point he's the better choice. It's nowhere near as satisfying as seeing al-Sadr get perp-walked into American military custody, but that's the nature of compromise.

    In my opinion, we just improved the likelihood of a reasonable transition to Iraqi sovereignty by half. Let's hope this gamble pays off.

    UPDATE: This Washington Post story has more detail:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A59486-2004May27.html?nav=rss_world

    Posted by Captain Ed at May 27, 2004 06:09 PM | TrackBack
     
  2. Zhukov
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    Zhukov VIP Member

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    al Sadr looks like a mongoloid. Having said that, it is not, in my opinion, wise to let a man who openly defied the coalition occupation forces to walk free. That will quite possibly increase his popularity as it gives him a degree of validity.

    At any rate, attacks have continued today in a city adjacent to Najaf (I forget the name, K---), which Gen. Kimmit claims is included in the cease fire agreement.

    We'll have to wait to see how it develops.
     
  3. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    I said I hoped he was right. Have to say it's not looking good. Bush is copying Kerry for waffles and it's going to cost him if it doesn't stop.

    The business with UN and now this dangerous game with our troops is not impressive.
     
  4. rtwngAvngr
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    rtwngAvngr Guest

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    Have to agree with the two previous wise posters. This is bad. bad weakness, hated by the lord.
     

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