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April 02, 2008

Iraqi Journalist: Basra Is a Trumph For Maliki and the Iraqi Army

Via Richard Miniter at PJM. It seems not quite so clear-cut, but here's some good counterpunch to the NYT's and MSM's assessment that Sadr won by losing.

Let’s round-up today’s events: far fewer rockets were lobbed into the Green Zone today because U.S. airstrikes have really frightened those launching them from Sadr City and elsewhere. Shu’la, near Kadhimiyah, was quiet all day today, so was Sha’ab City. Washash is an important enclave for the Sadrists in western Baghdad and it experienced 5 days of continued skirmishes with the Iraqi Army and police yet the Mahdi Army’s 18 member leadership committee abandoned Washash in the early afternoon Baghdad time and opted to hide in other parts of the city. The 400-500 active militants in Washash are either back in their homes or have left along with the leadership.

All the places that erupted five days ago across southern Iraq were much calmer. There’s a report that Shatra is under Sadrist control and it seems to be totally bogus, according to a source who spoke with acquaintances there today. Qurna, Ghammas, and Nassiriya have all witnessed the collapse of whatever resistance the Mahdi Army could muster in facing government troops.

The NYTimes reports that most of Basra—and by “most” they mean 50 to 70 percent of the city as claimed in today’s NYTimes print edition—is allegedly under Mahdi Army control. This is a complete fabrication. As of last night, the Iraqi Army began a systematic cleansing of downtown Basra and its southern suburbs, meeting minimal resistance.

Allah wrote, I think, that maybe this was analogous to the Israel-Hezballah war, where Hezballah had in fact been damaged and did in fact lose militarily but "won" in the sense it endured.

That may be true, but few battles are truly conclusive as in war-ending. At the end of the day, the JAM was enduring before this attack and they're enduring after; they controlled much of Basra before the attack and they control much of Basra after; they owned much of the police force before the attack and they'll continue doing so.

But the question seems to me to be "Where they strengthened or weakened by this?," and if the answer is the latter, as it does seem to be, then it also seems to me they lost. Enduring at a diminished capacity is a "victory" only if you're defining mere survival as a victory condition. Most wouldn't call that a victory; they'd call it a survivable setback.

Thanks to CJ.

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posted by Ace at 04:08 PM

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