Saturday, March 29, 2008

Operation Fix Muqty II

UPDATE 2! The categories I've assigned to bloggers don't really mean anything anymore. With the presumption that Maliki and Ja'ish Al-Mahdi are going to make nice afterall, bloggers in the NPOV and "It's About Time" categories now say "it was just a political fight among militias" or "the whole thing pisses me off". But wait! This just in at The Long War Journal:
Maliki: "Security operations in Basra will continue"
"One day after Muqtada al Sadr, the leader of the Mahdi Army, called for his fighters to abandon combat, the fighting in Basrah has come to a near-halt and the Iraqi security forces are patrolling the streets. While Sadr spokesman said the Iraqi government agreed to Sadr's terms for the ceasefire, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has said the security forces will continue operations in Basrah in the south. Meanwhile, the Mahdi Army took heavy casualties in Basrah, Nasiriyah, Babil, and Baghdad over the weekend, despite Sadr's call for the end of fighting."
I'll note with satisfaction that this was an outcome I suggested in the comments of this post.

UPDATES! (Too many to mention)
As with the first Operation Fix Muqty round-up, I'm attempting to group Iraqi bloggers by their "take" on the GoI's battle with JAM. An important backdrop is PM Maliki saying that the Mahdi Army is worse than AQ, and Ayatollah Maliki issuing a fatwa against the PM.

NPOV
Zappy posts on his hometown. Basra.
Iraqi Mojo While Mojo cannot be described as neutral himself on Sadr, just before the widespread fighting broke out in Basra, he posted on the WSJ overview of Sadr's "rise and fall" in political influence.
Baghdad Observer I guess it's not easy for reporters in a war zone. Leila is also covering the uncivil wranglings a the parliament.
Eye Raki Reposting it because its good.
Layla Anwar I'm putting Layla here for her post fisking Sadr's interview with Al-Jazeerah (see Raed Jarrar's reference to it below). It's clear that she does not bear any more love for Sadr than she bears for, say, me. But she does not endorse the Iraqi government either. So her limited subject matter and mutual hatred of the parties involved (to my great surprise) have enabled her to produce a really interesting, informative post that is neutral from the perspective of the issue at hand (although not neutral toward Sadr). I fully expect that her next post will put her in the same category with Hammorabi, but I don't want to decisively prejudge it.

It's about time
IraqTheModel
Behind the Bloodshed in Basra
I would have put ITM the NPOV were it not for a paragraph in Mohammed's latest article
Talisman Gate thrashes at the media trying (as he sees it) to paint Opertation Fix Muqty as a disaster. He also answers those who say he doesn't know what he's talking about:
“Nibras, get off your high horse, who says that you know any better?”I don’t, but I happen to be very knowledgeable about the Sadrist movement, having started to study it in 1999, and I can tell you that media accounts of its current strength are hugely exaggerated. Maliki knows this too and that’s why he’s chosen this battle to fight since it is one that he can win. The Mahdi Army in Basra is only an army in the sense that ‘soldiers’ and ‘cappos’ are rankings in the Cosa Nostra.
He posts again declaring that the NYT doesn't know what their talking about and that he sees a hopeful trend in the operation.
Finally, he thrashes the reporting of the NYT & AP (James Glanz especially) as he did in the post I linked to in Fix Muqty I. He depicts their coverage as always ignorant and either merely anti-American at best and pro-Sadr at worst.
But then Glanz casually drops a cultural aside that is painfully ignorant of Iraq; he devotes half a paragraph to marvel at the fact that one Iraqi politician he’s familiar with drinks Johnny Walker Red Label...Marveling that an Iraqi male is a bit of a boozer is like discovering that rednecks go gaga over NASCAR. Iraqis are the Irish, or the Russians, of the Middle East; they’re the stereotypical alcoholics of the region. Alcohol consumption is not a vice imported by Westernized Iraqi politicians returning from exile. Only a novice would make such a silly and mistaken cultural observation.
On the other hand, he recommends this NYT article by Sabrina Tavernise and Solomon Moore as exemplary of the best coverage.
NIW continues here daily coverage:
Fireworks in the Green Zone
Whooooooooooosh Boooooooooom
Has some ironic fun
Today she posts on the "Truce":
Wow, I have never seen such happy faces since the Iraqi team won the Asia cup back in July...There is a lot of misconception that Sadr offered this truce because he was being hammered. UNTRUE. This is just a ploy. A card he is playing so everyone can say “Aaaaaah what a hero, he really does care”. What utter bullshit. This guy does not have an inkling of a grain of care in his system. He doesn’t give a damn shit about the Iraqi people. Not a single government person nor any leader care about the Iraqis. “SAYDER” wants everyone to see him as a hero. As a compassionate leader. That is the real reason behind his so called truce....Others share my opinion, that this hasn’t achieved anything but havoc and that Maliki turned out to be a great wuss. Again nothing new.

Anti-Federalists vs Federalists
Continuing to strike out reclusive positions on the conflict, Raed Jarrar is refining his take on the Mahdi Army crackdown: Sadr and JAM are anti-federalists, anti foreign intervention, and (get this!) anti-sectarian politics. Raed claims this is the position Sadr is taking on Al-Jazeera. Assuming Raed's interpretation of Sadr's interview is accurate, I can't claim to know enough about the intricacies of Iraqi coalition politics to say with certainty who Sadr is trying to appeal to; but I would guess 1) he's trolling for allies among Sunni Arabs, or 2) realizes the extent to which he has lost political influence due to his name becoming the brand for Shi'a extremist sectarianism, or 3) both (see the link to Iraqi Mojo above). In an impressive moment of magnificent delusion, Raed seems to be claiming that this fight was started because of a quote he gave to PBS. He has a chuckle over the Iraqi government supposedly extending the ceasefire (although it appears to me that that extended deadline was for people who had heavy and intermediate weapons that they had procured to sell to militias). It hardly matters if, as Raed reports, no one is turning any weapons in (I doubt they really thought they would).

This whole thing just pisses me off
MHZ doesn't like it that the Mahdi were given any sort of period to lay down their arms, the government is weak, Al-Qaeda is laying low, and dammit things were just quieting down in Baghdad!
Shaggy's posts are entitled Diarrhea, I Can Smell Poo, and A Painfully Boring Curfew:
This curfew thing is killing me. I'm so bleeding bored. It's as though I'm dragging a heavy black cloud around the house. I still don't have much of an appetite because of the fit of diarrhea I had a couple days ago. Last night, I realised that the diarrhea was caused by eating too many of the berries my mum picked from the garden. Those berries are great laxatives.

Territorial fight among Shi'a gangs
Abbas
reviews the feud between Hakim and Sadr and why there is so much increasingly diverging opinion among Iraqis. In his comments Neurotic Iraqi Wife (NIW) said:
KK, I was watching the news, and yes you r right. On one channel, sharqiya, they showed footage of Iraqi army giving their weapons to mahdi offices. Then on Iraqiya they say mahdi militia giving up their weapons to the army. I sat there confused like hell!!!As I said in my own post, I dont know why the hell people are pissed off this is happening??? This should have happened a long time ago. Now I dunno what to believe when they talk abt casualties, are they really innocent Iraqis or are they muqtada thugs???
Abbas also sees similarities between current events and the US/UK's support of the Shah in 1953. I think Abbas is beginning to sound like Hammorabi.
Last-of-the-Iraqis Dr. Mohammed continues to update this post each day. Scroll down to see the latest day.

More News on Operation Fix Muqty

ThreatsWatch: DailyBriefings: March 31, 2007
Washington Post Shiite Cleric Sadr Offers Conditions for Cease-Fire
U.S., British Widen Role in Iraqi Government's Offensive in Basra
The Long War Journal Sadr orders followers to end fighting
In Pictures: Iranian munitions seized in Iraq
Mahdi Army taking significant casualties in Baghdad, South
Agencie France Presse (via Pat Dollard) Al Sadr’s Fighters Completely Disappear
NPR Rebel Cleric Urges Followers to Drop Arms
NYT In This Shiite Battle, a Marked Shift From the Past
Shiite Militias Cling to Swaths of Basra and Stage Raids
Michael Yon interviewed by Glenn Reynolds:
The Shia down there will tell you this is not about, this doesn’t have anything to do with religion whatsoever. It’s all about power, its all about money, it’s all about influence...These are serious setbacks with the Shia militias, but its not the end of the world, its not civil war thats for sure. That ended last year. The civil war ended, especially, when we started beating down al-Qaeda.

While this has nothing to do with Muqty and only cursorily to do with Iraq, here is some Monday Morning TV for those who missed Captain Kangaroo:
Puppet Show from Hamas TV: Child Stabs President Bush to Death and Turns the White House into a Mosque

MORE
Small Wars Journal: The Basra Gambit
Leila Fadel: There is no doubt now who pulls Sadr's strings
"The backdrop to Sadr's dramatic statement was a secret trip Friday by Iraqi lawmakers to Qom, Iran's holy city and headquarters for the Iranian clergy who run the country. There the Iraqi lawmakers held talks with Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Qods (Jerusalem) brigades of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and signed an agreement with Sadr, which formed the basis of his statement Sunday, members of parliament said."
IBD: Winning The Iran-In-Iraq War




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