Friday, February 02, 2007

The Surge and Jaish

Strong piece on how the surge likely strengthens the Mahdi Army (Jaish al Mahdi, JAM). Tom Lasseter pens the piece.

First as we already know (my emphasis):

U.S. Army commanders and enlisted men who are patrolling east Baghdad, which is home to more than half the city's population and the front line of al-Sadr's campaign to drive rival Sunni Muslims from their homes and neighborhoods, said al-Sadr's militias had heavily infiltrated the Iraqi police and army units that they've trained and armed. Half of them are JAM. They'll wave at us during the day and shoot at us during the night," said 1st Lt. Dan Quinn, a platoon leader in the Army's 1st Infantry Division, using the initials of the militia's Arabic name, Jaish al Mahdi. "People (in America) think it's bad, but that we control the city. That's not the way it is. They control it, and they let us drive around. It's hostile territory."

Then this dark prediction:

The problem, many soldiers said, is that the approach has been tried before and resulted only in strengthening al-Sadr and his militia. Amid recurring reports that al-Sadr is telling his militia leaders to stash their arms and, in some cases, leave their neighborhoods during the American push, U.S. soldiers worry that the latest plan could end up handing over those areas to units that are close to al-Sadr's militant Shiite group. "All the Shiites have to do is tell everyone to lay low, wait for the Americans to leave, then when they leave you have a target list and within a day they'll kill every Sunni leader in the country. It'll be called the `Day of Death' or something like that," said 1st Lt. Alain Etienne, 34, of Brooklyn, N.Y. "They say, `Wait, and we will be victorious.' That's what they preach. And it will be their victory." Quinn agreed. "Honestly, within six months of us leaving, the way Iranian clerics run the country behind the scenes, it'll be the same way here with Sadr," said Quinn, 25, of Cleveland. "He already runs our side of the river."

The Sunni Groups believe that once the Americans leave, with Saudi money and arms, they can like 1920 overthrow the Shia (one of the biggest Sunni groups is the 1920 Brigades for precisely that historical reason).

Both groups seem only to be waiting--and in other cases like car & suicide bombings not waiting--for the Americans to leave for the open season killing to commence.


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