Saturday, January 13, 2007

update on Sadr and Surge

McClatchy Reports that the Mahdi Army is purposefully toning down its presence due to American increase. I linked to Juan Cole the other day who suggested PM Maliki has told them to back down. The point in global guerilla warfare is to wait for the Army to come in, flee, lay low until the "invasion"--I'm taking the surge here as a mini-war/mini conflict within the larger war/post war construct--and then swarm.

Consider the following line from the article (my emphasis):

The decision by al-Sadr to lower his force's profile in Baghdad will likely cut violence in the city and allow American forces to show quick results [i.e. mini war "victory"] from their beefed up presence. But it is also unlikely in the long term to change the balance of power here. Mahdi Army militiamen say that while they remain undercover now, they are simply waiting for the security plan to end [post mini-war conflict].
This might be a way of squaring the circle with Juan Cole's new post today on possible incursions against the Mahdi Army. Cole links an article from al-Hayat which:

suggests that the model of the US raid on an Iranian liason office in Irbil might be deployed against Mahdi Army leaders and against Sunni Arab guerrilla commanders. That is, such raids would be small, targeted, quick and involve kidnapping suspected wrongdoers...It says that Jabir al-Khafaji, a lieutenant of Muqtada al-Sadr who preached at his mosque in Kufa on Friday, condemned the "new politicians" and charging that "their strategy and goal is to get rid of the pious believers who have opposed the occupation." Hmm. I'd say he thinks there is about to be a fight with the Mahdi Army.
If the Mahdi Army pulls a lay low/swarm global guerilla move and Sunni insurgents time similar car bombs, the surge could lead to the American being lured into urban warfare and take serious casualties. I'm very worried about this possibility. The theory may be that the civil war/sectarian killings would stop if for a moment insurgents on the Sunni side and Sadr militia on the Shia both focus on killing the American troops. A neo-insurgency with a strange moment when Sadr could re-align (as he did temporarily in 2004) with some Sunni insurgents. But if the killings rise for the Americans, a constitutional crisis will occur I think. Republicans are fleeing Bush faster than you can say 2008.

The other reading might be that Maliki is still doing his best to protect the Mahdi Army while still giving the Americans enough success to keep him in their favor, while preventing any move towards a parliamentary coup. Maliki is like Bush becoming more and more isolated.


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