March 27, 2008

TURNING ON THE ALLIES:

Sadr's Defensive Strategy (John Robb, 3/26/08, Global Guerillas)

The Iraqi government's militias (Army/police) are on the offensive in Basra, in an attempt to regain control of oil exports from the Mahdi army. In contrast to previous engagements with the Mahdi army, this fight is going to more interesting. A leaner and more efficient Mahdi army has learned from Hezbollah's success in southern Lebanon that a carefully planned defensive strategy in combination with a strategic timer (a series of actions that inflict visible strategic damage to the opponent) can rapidly dissolve the political will of a weak adversary (Maliki certainly fits that description). In addition to the defense of Mahdi army neighborhoods and efforts to interdict the supplies of Iraqi army/police forces operating in Basra, here's what will be done on the strategic side...

The Surge was made possible in the first instance by the Mahdi Army convincing the Sunni that the Shi'a weren't going to be oppressed again. It has succeeded because it served Shi'a purposes. But there comes a point where it turns against the Shi'a and/or in favor of the Sunni and then it fails.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 27, 2008 8:53 AM
Comments

Except that this is no longer a matter of Sunni/Shia. That battle is long over. The government is Shia. Mahdi and Shia however are not synonymous.

This is about whether the Shia government of Iraq can allow a fiefdom within its borders. If the Mahdi want to dominate the south, then they ought to be able to do it via elections, not via guns and intimidation. And not via their connections with the Iranian Republican Guard, which is hardly an ally of the sort of reformist elements one hopes eventually come to power in Iran.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at March 27, 2008 9:50 AM

Maliki like Jaafari before him, is SCIRI/Da'wa; just like "Mo Baker" the Interior Minister. Old school followers of Muqtada's father and uncle
who don't see him, earning power because of his
family name.

Posted by: narciso at March 27, 2008 10:26 AM

The government is, but we want to make them accept Awakening, without our disarming it. There's no reason to think the Shi'a will, nor should they.

Posted by: oj at March 27, 2008 11:46 AM

Your commentary needs to be modified: "The Surge was made possible in the first instance by the Mahdi Army convincing the Sunni that the Shi'a weren't going to be oppressed again. [The Mahdi Army] has succeeded because it served Shi'a purposes. But there comes a point where it turns against the [overall] Shi'a [community]...and then it fails."

Posted by: b at March 27, 2008 1:20 PM

That's what will be determined when we leave. Smart money's on Mookie.

Posted by: oj at March 27, 2008 2:57 PM
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