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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-31-08 10:15 AM
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The Lessons of Basra
At the start of the military offensive launched last week into Basra by US-trained Iraqi army forces, President Bush called the action by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki "a bold decision." He added: "I would say this is a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq."

That's true--but not in the way the President meant it. As the smoke clears over new rubble in Iraq's second city, at the heart of Iraq's oil region, it's apparent that the big winner of the Six-Day War in Basra are the forces of rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army faced down the Iraqi armed forces not only in Basra, but in Baghdad, as well as in Kut, Amarah, Nasiriyah, and Diwaniya, capitals of four key southern provinces. That leaves Sadr, an anti-American rabble rouser and nationalist who demands an end to the US occupation of Iraq, and who has grown increasingly close to Iran of late, in a far stronger position that he was a week ago. In Basra, he's the boss. An Iraqi reporter for the New York Times, who managed to get into Basra during the fighting, concluded that the thousands of Mahdi Army militiamen that control most of the city remained in charge. "There was nowhere the Mahdi either did not control or could not strike at will," he wrote.

The other big winner in the latest round of Shiite-vs.-Shiite civil war is Iran. For the past five years, Iran has built up enormous political, economic and military clout in Iraq, right under the noses of 170,000 surge-inflated US occupying forces. (For details, see my March 10 Nation article, "Is Iran Winning the Iraq War?") Iran has strong ties to Iraq's ruling Shiite alliance, which is dominated by the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, whose militia, the Badr Corps, was armed, trained, financed and commanded by Iranians during two decades in exile in Iran. Since then, hedging its bets, Iran built a close relationship to Sadr's Mahdi Army as well, and Sadr himself has spent most of the time since the start of the US surge last January in Iran. In addition, Iran has armed and trained a loose collection of fighters that US military commanders call "Special Groups," paramilitary fighters who've kept up a steady drumbeat of attacks on American troops. Thus, it was no surprise when Hadi al-Ameri, the commander of the Badr Corps and a leading member of ISCI, traveled over the weekend to Iran's religious capital of Qom to negotiate the truce with Sadr that resulted in a shaky ceasefire in Basra.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-31-08 10:19 AM
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1. Gwynne Dyer: The battle and the reality in Basra
I want to give credit to Mr Dyer here, for correctly calling the situation and it's duration.

The rhetoric is triumphalist, and the storyline simple and consistent. "We have made up our minds to enter this battle and we will continue till the end. No retreat," said Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, on Thursday.

"As we speak Iraqis are waging a tough battle against militia fighters and criminals in Basra, many of whom have received arms and training and funding from Iran," said President George W. Bush in Dayton, Ohio. But the reality is less persuasive.

The offensive in Basra could only have been launched with the support of the United States, since Prime Minister Maliki has admitted that he "cannot move a company of troops" without American consent. It is really aimed mainly at the Mehdi army, the militia that backs Moqtada al-Sadr. And it is not likely to succeed.


if this is what happened, it is a classic case of hope triumphing over experience. The Iraqi Army probably cannot beat the Mehdi militia in open battle in Iraq's big cities, and it may be left severely discredited if it tries. The US Army certainly can beat Sadr's militia, but that would be followed by a reversion to the guerrilla attacks that were causing such high US casualties before Sadr's ceasefire. Or maybe Petraeus and Maliki know something about the weaknesses of the Mehdi army that nobody else does. They have about a week to prove it.
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ljm2002 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-31-08 01:16 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I love Gwynne Dyer!
And the article is a very illuminating read...

Amazing how little the US knew going into this disaster. And also amazing how well the press has shielded the US population from any actual, you know, FACTUAL INFORMATION coming out of all this.

Like how hard would it be for a reporter to ask the following: Given that we are accusing Iran of mischief, and given that our Congress has called the Qud a terroristic organization -- how, then do we reconcile that with the fact that Maliki, our man in Baghdad, belongs to the Shiite organization with the CLOSEST TIES TO IRAN? How do we reconcile our position with the fact that it was A GENERAL OF THE QUD ITSELF that brokered a new ceasefire between the factions?

Well it would not be hard at all. But they just won't do it. Not at the press conferences and not in print. Factual information about the Iraq conflict? They. Just. Won't. Touch. It.

We are truly the most wilfully ignorant nation that ever was. And it will be the death of us -- if not of humanity as a whole.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-31-08 05:01 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Yes, I've been fond of Mr Dyer for a long time now.
He is always worth a read.
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cliss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-31-08 08:35 PM
Response to Original message
4. Thanks for posting, B.
Re: Big fanfare.
Everything coming from Bush is always anti-climactic. Notice? While the fighting was going on, Bushgets out there, adds his little Soap Opera drama, we see the headlines "Bush says this is a defining moment ". "Maliki "Brave" on and on.

The little fool always does this: he builds up too much suspense.
Next: the battle of Basra ends with humiliation for US forces.
On the news: complete silence.
They do this again and again.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-31-08 08:43 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. My pleasure.
I'm mostly struck, considering the last five years, by the transition from triumphant dick-waving to defensive butt-covering and tortured (no pun intended) "explanations" of why it's not really a total disaster quite yet. Did you the see the post about how Pelosi is "preparing" to withold funding for the war someday soon? We are governed by clowns.
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