Report: Mehdi Army Dissolving

Who woulda thunk it?

Just a few short months ago, Muqtada al-Sadr and his feared Mehdi Army controlled much of southern Iraq through a combination of political hardball and terror. We were told by the naysayers that Mookie's star was on the rise and that he would probably even supplant Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki some day.

When the Iraqi Army began to take on the Mehdi Militia, much was made of some random success they had against government troops - until, without warning, Mookie declared a unilateral cease fire in Basra.

"What a statesman" the naysayers were gushing about the thug. Only al-Maliki was having none of it. Even though al-Sadr volunteered to end the fighting, Maliki's army continued their operations against the Mehdi and rolled them up like yesterday's newspaper. Basra was free and only belatedly - and grudgingly - was this fact reported.

It was unsurprising that this huge success by the government went largely unreported in the press. But then Maliki unleashed his forces in the Sadr City slums where the real strength of the Mehdi lay. Once again the naysayers pointed to the heroic resistance of Mookie's freedom fighters as proof that he couldn't be defeated militarily.  And once again, as the Iraqi army pacified the area block by block, the news dropped off the radar until now we hear from the Middle East Times that the feared and invincible Mehdi Army is "dissolving:"

The military wing of the Sadrist Movement, the political party loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, is "turning itself into a secret armed organization," an Iraqi intelligence official told the Gulf News on condition of anonymity.

Iraqi intelligence reports suggest the group's numbers have dwindled from around 50,000 to as few as 150 in the past few years.

Intelligence officials credit decisions by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to launch military offensives against Shiite militants in the southern parts of the country as deterring the group. An Iraqi intelligence official reports as many as 2,000 Mehdi Army fighters were killed in recent operations in Basra, Sadr City and the provincial capital of Maysan, Amarah.

"This led to the almost complete collapse of the army," the official said. Intelligence reports suggest many Sadr fighters also fled to neighboring Iran in the wake of the recent Iraqi military operations.

U.S. and Iraqi authorities, Gulf News reported, blame Iran for transporting weapons to the militia.

Intelligence officials said the latest operations in Maysan province would signal "the end of the Mehdi Army."

The "end of the Mehdi army?" From 50,000 armed men to zero? Some hero this Mookie al-Sadr. He himself is in hiding which probably contributed in no small way to the end of his militia.

So what do we do with the naysayers in the press and on the left who have told us for 5 years that al-Sadr was the future of Iraq and that his army of thugs would continue to take their toll on Americans until we left with our tail between our legs?

For my part, I think I'll send the New York Times newsroom a couple of plucked, dressed, and cooked crows.
Who woulda thunk it?

Just a few short months ago, Muqtada al-Sadr and his feared Mehdi Army controlled much of southern Iraq through a combination of political hardball and terror. We were told by the naysayers that Mookie's star was on the rise and that he would probably even supplant Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki some day.

When the Iraqi Army began to take on the Mehdi Militia, much was made of some random success they had against government troops - until, without warning, Mookie declared a unilateral cease fire in Basra.

"What a statesman" the naysayers were gushing about the thug. Only al-Maliki was having none of it. Even though al-Sadr volunteered to end the fighting, Maliki's army continued their operations against the Mehdi and rolled them up like yesterday's newspaper. Basra was free and only belatedly - and grudgingly - was this fact reported.

It was unsurprising that this huge success by the government went largely unreported in the press. But then Maliki unleashed his forces in the Sadr City slums where the real strength of the Mehdi lay. Once again the naysayers pointed to the heroic resistance of Mookie's freedom fighters as proof that he couldn't be defeated militarily.  And once again, as the Iraqi army pacified the area block by block, the news dropped off the radar until now we hear from the Middle East Times that the feared and invincible Mehdi Army is "dissolving:"

The military wing of the Sadrist Movement, the political party loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, is "turning itself into a secret armed organization," an Iraqi intelligence official told the Gulf News on condition of anonymity.

Iraqi intelligence reports suggest the group's numbers have dwindled from around 50,000 to as few as 150 in the past few years.

Intelligence officials credit decisions by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to launch military offensives against Shiite militants in the southern parts of the country as deterring the group. An Iraqi intelligence official reports as many as 2,000 Mehdi Army fighters were killed in recent operations in Basra, Sadr City and the provincial capital of Maysan, Amarah.

"This led to the almost complete collapse of the army," the official said. Intelligence reports suggest many Sadr fighters also fled to neighboring Iran in the wake of the recent Iraqi military operations.

U.S. and Iraqi authorities, Gulf News reported, blame Iran for transporting weapons to the militia.

Intelligence officials said the latest operations in Maysan province would signal "the end of the Mehdi Army."

The "end of the Mehdi army?" From 50,000 armed men to zero? Some hero this Mookie al-Sadr. He himself is in hiding which probably contributed in no small way to the end of his militia.

So what do we do with the naysayers in the press and on the left who have told us for 5 years that al-Sadr was the future of Iraq and that his army of thugs would continue to take their toll on Americans until we left with our tail between our legs?

For my part, I think I'll send the New York Times newsroom a couple of plucked, dressed, and cooked crows.