Is al-Sadr Finished?
It could be that the end is near for firebrand anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Despite the spin from the media, it is becoming more and more clear with each passing day that al-Sadr suffered a massive defeat in Basra. He is now an isolated figure trying desperately to save face as the government and people of Iraq unite to demand he disarm his miltia.
It was reported at the time that al-Sadr helped Maliki by calling for a cease fire in Basra - the result of his militia getting the upper hand in that city.
What we now know is that the spin put on that cease fire call was a perfect example of the western media being dupes for Iran and any anti-American spokesman who can get in front of a microphone. What actually happened was a little more complicated:
According to Bill Roggio, some cowboy politicians from Maliki’s Dawa party journeyed to Iran (without authorization from the government) and asked the Iranians to get Sadr to stop fighting. Sadr released his 9 point statement demanding the government withdraw from Basra, stop targeting his forces, and release prisoners. The left celebrated Mookie’s forbearance while completely ignoring one glaring fact; Maliki never authorized the overture in the first place and secondly, he rejected Sadr’s 9 points outright:
Just as the Iraqi security forces began to address the shortcoming in the operation and the situation in the center-south began to stabilize, Sadr decided to pull his fighters off the streets. Members of Maliki’s Dawa political party approached the leader of Iran’s Qods Force asking him to get Sadr to stop the fighting.The fact that operations continue in Basra gives to the lie to the idea that Maliki agreed to anything. Meanwhile, Maliki got busy on the political front and lined up an impressive coalition of parties, sects, factions, and personalities to demand that Sadr disarm.
Shortly afterward, Sadr ordered his troops to withdraw from fighting and issued a nine-point statement of demands for the Iraqi government. By this time, the Mahdi Army took significant casualties in Basrah, Baghdad, and the greater South.
“Security forces killed more than 200 gunmen, wounded 700, and arrested 300 others, since the beginning of the military operations in Basrah,” said Major General Abdul Kareem Khalaf, the director of operations for the Ministry of the Interior. The Mahdi Army suffered 173 killed in Baghdad during the six days of fighting. Spokesmen from the Mahdi Army claimed the Maliki government agreed to Sadr’s terms, which included ending operations against the Mahdi Army, but the Iraqi government denies this. “I refuse to negotiate with the outlaws,” Maliki said on April 3. “I did not sign any deal.”
The position of Hojatoleslam al-Sadr, whose fighters fought government forces to a standstill in Basra, was looking precarious. His former erstwhile ally Nouri al-Maliki, the Shia Prime Minister who personally led the Basra crackdown, saw his standing bolstered by his tough approach to the militias.And now, to top off Sadr's humiliation, he has cancelled his protest march against the American occupation scheduled for today:
Despite the inconclusive results of his Basra offensive, Mr al-Maliki has refused to back down and this weekend stitched together a rare consensus of Kurds, Sunnis and Shias to back a law banning from future elections any party that maintains a militia. That united stance has put the Sadrists on the back foot, and support for the militia was waning even in Sadr City itself as official forces pushed ever deeper into al-Mahdi Army territory.
Two aides in al-Sadr’s office in the holy city of Najaf told The Associated Press that the rally had been canceled. They spoke on condition of anonymity pending an official announcement.(HT: Hot Air)
Al-Sadr had called for a “million-strong” protest to mark the fifth anniversary of the capture of Baghdad by U.S. troops. It was seen by many observers as a show of force in his confrontation with the government over calls to disband his Mahdi Army militia.
Mookie himself is still in Iran ostensibly to receive additional religious training in order to achieve a higher rank in the Muslim heirarchy. But he might just as well be in exile as his militia crumbles, his support wanes, and his ability to terrorize the population diminishes. Good riddance.