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August 05, 2008

Sadr's Latest Military Stroke Of Genius...Total Surrender

The media was right, this guy is the greatest strategic thinker of our age.

BAGHDAD -- Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr -- long a thorn in the side of the U.S. military and Iraqi government -- intends to disarm his once-dominant Mahdi Army militia and remake it as a social-services organization.

The transformation would represent a significant turnabout for a group that, as recently as earlier this year, was seen as one of the most destabilizing anti-American forces in Iraq. For much of the past several years, the Mahdi Army, headed by Mr. Sadr, a Shiite cleric, controlled sizable chunks of Baghdad and other cities. Its brand of pro-Shiite activism had the side effect of pitting Iraqis against each other, helping to stir worries of civil war.

...The Mahdi Army's makeover is at least partly a reaction to the loss of popular support. Previously, many Iraqis blamed the U.S. and the Iraqi government for fighting that erupted with the militia, but in the most recent battles that began in March, many residents turned against the militia because they were fed up with its criminal and violent activities, including kidnapping and smuggling.

As the saying goes, read the whole thing.

Yes Sadr has played possum before but always after getting his ass kicked and always from an increasingly weakened position than he started from.

And yes there's concern about 5,000 diehards training in Iran to come back and wreak havoc or that his 'social service' projects could lead to a Hezbollah like group but these are problems that may or may not materialize in the future. Whether or not they do depends largely on the ability of the central government to deliver on its basic responsibilities. If it does, the likelihood of Sadr being anything but a political figure will be greatly reduced.

This has always been a chicken or the egg type problem, the militias won't go away until the central government takes over but it couldn't take over until the militias were dealt with. Well, Sadr went first and now al-Maliki has his chance.

It seems to me this is exactly what we've been working towards.


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posted by DrewM. at 03:55 PM

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