Monday, April 14, 2008

Sadr's Return To Najaf Leaked to the Old Media


Abbas at Cartharsis has translated Al-Nuri's letter.

Eye Raki posts today on a bombshell revelation that fingers the Mahdi Army as the most likely perpetrator of the assassination of Mookie confidant Riyadh Al-Nuri. A week before his murder, he sent a letter to Mookie informing him of the "the need to 'cleanse' the Sadr Movement from these 'corrupt forces'" and encouraging him to "think seriously about disbanding the Mehdi Army". He made his recommendations in a letter of which he gave a copy to a relative saying:

"I have done what I could but I know they will kill me."

Once again, Eye Raki has scooped the Western media.

Four days after Eye Raki reported that Sadr had returned to Najaf from Iran, the first report in the English press seeped out yesterday in Asharq Alawsat:

Iraqi sources in Al-Najaf said Al-Sadr "arrived from Qom the night before yesterday and stayed at the house of one of his aides, where his supporters were banned from reaching him, after being forced to stay for six months in an isolated house on the outskirts of the Iranian city of Qom."

It turns out Iran kicked his butt out:

The Iraqi sources in Qom and Al-Najaf asserted that the Iranian authorities informed Al-Sadr of the need to leave their territories because of the security problems he had caused in Iraq following the armed clashes between the pro-Al-Sadr "Al-Mahdi Army" militia and Iraqi forces in Basra, Baghdad, Al-Diwaniyah, Karbala, and Al-Kut. They added that moderate officials in Iran denounced Al-Sadr's presence in their territories saying that this was causing problems with the Iraqi Government and that "affects the course of relations between Tehran and Baghdad."

The most logical conclusion to be derived from this is Iran's calculation that Sadr's usefulness is seriously eroded, is not likely to return, and his safe-harbor in Qom is confirming everything the US is saying about their misbehavior in Iraq. Those suffering from Maliki Derangement Syndrome will see this as confirmation that Maliki is an Iranian puppet.

Friday, April 11, 2008

My Lunch With MHZ

I had lunch today with MHZ and his friend, Mustafa, at the Sago mexican restaurant. The famous Iraqi generosity is apparently unattenuated by migration to the US. They absolutely would not let me take the bill. To the contrary, even though I was the only one at the table with a job, Mustafa covered the whole thing.

It was wonderful (for me, I won't presume to answer for them). We had a lively time talking about Austin and Iraq and wallowing in schadenfreude over the Mahdi Army's recent troubles. MHZ and Mustafa definitely do not suffer from Maliki Derangement Syndrome. Don't bother running to your medical journals to look that up. It is a new affliction suffered by some Iraqi bloggers, and it might soon be classified as an epidemic. I'll describe it in my next post. Prepare to give yourself an examination.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

An Italian and Bruno Talk About Petraeus Testimony

If you've ever spent any time wading through Zeyad's (Healing Iraq) eclectic comment section, or many other Iraqi bloggers' comments for that matter, you know An Italian and Bruno. You also know that Barzan al-Tikriti himself, were he still alive, might regard them with a sideways glance and say "hey- chill out with the bloodlust and the chaos-mongering, OK?" They are, to put it mildly, very committed to Iraq's destruction and failure.

In response to the recent Basra operation by the Government of Iraq versus the Jaisch al-Mahdi, and Petraeus' testimony to Congress, An Italian left a bit of a whopper over there.

I wanted to pull it out, and my response, to save it here for posterity.


OK! Let's review!

An Italian, here, said this:
"Today your Dear Leader & Saviour, Gen. Petraeus, told your Senate that your "ISF" ( ) are a piteous bunch: so that the reliability of your propaganda sources, those three criminals you keep to link to (grotesquely), Yon, Roggio and Totten, has been completely debunked, and by no less a source than Petraeus !!!

Wouldn't an apology on your part be in order, dear Rhus ?"

I take from this two claims of interest:

1) Did Gen. Petraeus tell the US Congress that the ISF are a piteous bunch?

2) Did Gen. Petraeus' testimony debunk Yon, Roggio, and Totten?

Bruno gleefully backed An Italian here with this:

Smartly done, Marcus. I love it when an intelligent commenter blasts the rattles off the tail of one of the warmongers.

Wait, let me try!

[rhus to italian] "I can't find him saying that, except that the Basra op "wasn't adequately planned or prepared". Hardly merits the sweeping statements you make. Do tell more, please."

"McCain, who has highly praised Petraeus’ counterinsurgency campaign, sought in questioning of the general to show that the Iraqi government and military were not yet ready to stand alone. He pointed specifically to recent Iraqi operations against Shiite militias in Basra.
“Suffice to say it was a disappointment,” McCain asked. Petraeus responded: “It was. Although it is not over yet, senator.”

Now, nobody is saying the ISF was perfect or that Basra went swimingly. But did Petraeus go anywhere near calling them a 'piteous bunch'?? Here's the transcript:
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-Ariz.: General Petraeus, again, a news report said that Prime Minister Maliki only informed you shortly before the operation. Is that correct in Basra?

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, Commander, Multi-National Forces in Iraq: It is, Senator.
We had a heads-up on a Friday night meeting where we, in fact, were planning to resource operations in Basra on a longer-term basis. The following Saturday, we had a meeting during which he laid out a plan for the — that he was going to deploy forces, laid out the objectives, the lines of operations that he was going to operate along, and stated that he was…

MCCAIN: And it was not…

PETRAEUS: … moving there on Friday himself — or on Monday himself.

MCCAIN: And it was not something that you had recommended.

PETRAEUS: It was not something I recommended. No, sir.

MCCAIN: News reports indicate that over 1,000 Iraqi army and police deserted or under-performed during that operation. This is four months after Basra achieved provincial Iraqi control meaning that all provincial security had been transferred to Iraqi security forces.

What’s the lesson that we are to draw from that, that a thousand Iraqi police deserted or under-performed?

PETRAEUS: Well, one lesson, Senator, is that relatively new forces — what happened was in one case, a brigade that literally had just come out of unit (inaudible) fielding was pressed into operation.
The other lesson is a recurring one, and that is the difficulty of local police operating in areas where there is serious intimidation of themselves and of their families.

MCCAIN: Suffice to say it was a disappointment.


So there were desertions, underperforming, and it was a disappointment. Is that the bottom line? NO!

Petraeus continues:
Although it is not over yet, Senator. In fact, subsequent to the early days, they then took control of the security at the different ports, they continued to carry out targeted raids. The operation is still very much ongoing and it is by no means over.

[...they talk about the Green Zone...]

If I could, Senator, also point out that along with the operations in Basra, there were operations in a number of other provinces in southern Iraq, all precipitated by this outbreak in militia violence.

In Karbala, Najaf, Qadisiyah, Hillah, Wasit, Dhi Qar and Muthanna, the Iraqi security forces actually did well; in some cases did very well and maintained security. The same is true in Baghdad, although, again, even there, the performance was uneven in some cases.

So can anyone honestly say Petraeus called the ISF a piteous bunch? NO! He acknowledged the difficulties of the operation but pointed out that they were doing better in Basra now, and they performed well elsewhere.

Question 1 goes to the good guys!

Question 2 is in regards to Yon's, Roggio's, and Totten's credibility. Did Petraeus debunk them?

As it happens, Roggio wrote, on April 4th, a detailed piece on the Basra operations up to then:

A look at Operation Knights' Assault

Eleven days after Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki launched Operation Knights' Assault in Basrah, the picture of the fighting in the city has become clearer. Maliki launched the operation after giving limited notice to Multinational Forces Iraq, and an inexperienced Iraqi Army brigade from the newly formed 14th Division cracked doing the opening days of the fighting. Basrah Operational Command rushed in forces into Basrah, including Army and elite police units, to stabilize the fighting, and six days after the operation began, Muqtada al Sadr ordered his Mahdi Army to stand down in Basrah, Baghdad, and the South.
The US military was given notice of the operation on March 21, just four days before the Iraqi security forces began the advance into Basrah, The Times reported. General David Petraeus reportedly tried to dissuade Maliki from conducting the offensive, but the Iraqi prime minister pushed forward. Additional Iraqi Army, police, and special forces units began arriving in Basrah on March 24, and Maliki started the operation the next day.
The fighting caused the 52nd Brigade to crack under the strain of the fighting, according to US and Iraqi military officials. An estimated 500 Iraqi Army soldiers and 400 policemen deserted during the Basrah fighting, Iraqi military officials told The Associated Press. The 500 soldiers were reported to be from a single Iraqi Army battalion. Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Mohammed al Askari told Reuters an estimated 1,000 members of the security forces deserted. Some turned their weapons and vehicles over the Mahdi Army.
While the focus of the reporting centered on Basrah, the Iraqi security forces also combated the Mahdi Army in the Shia cities between Basrah and Baghdad. The Iraqi Army was able to secure Hillah, Kut, Karbala, Najaf, Diwaniyah, Nasiriyah, and Amarah in a matter of days after the fighting started. By March 29, the fighting in these cities largely stopped.

Does Petraeus' testimony debunk Roggio's article, written four days prior? NO! IT VERIFIES ALMOST ALL OF ROGGIO'S ANALYSIS !!

Question 2 goes to the good guys!

How embarrassing it must be to be you, An Italian and Bruno. Even your most ardent, blindest fans will see right through your inaccuracies.

Wouldn't an apology on your part be in order, dear An Italian and Bruno ?


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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Eye Raki Reports: Al-Sadr Has Returned to Najaf

Mookie was spotted in a McDonald's in Najaf.

From on the ground in Najaf, Eye Raki reports Mookie has returned to home in Najaf. Also, he has lost a lot of weight. Perhaps the Britney Spears diet?:

I was introduced by a mutual friend to an officer in the Ministry of Interior who confirmed the reports. I wanted to go to look out for any unusual activity around his house but the street leading to his home was blocked off by IP's who wouldn't give us a straight answer as to why we are not allowed through...Could this be a turn around in Iranian foreign policy and possibly give them a card to play when talks with the Americans continue in Baghdad? Did Moqtada Al-Sadr really leave Iran because he missed Iraq or was he given the boot by Tehran? God damn I wish I had the answers...There are also reports that Moqtada is ill, it was clear to everyone who saw him on the Al-Jazeera interview that he has lost a considerable amount of weight and that has got everyone talking about his health. Depending on who you ask he is either having mental problems (and is taking medication; the reason for his sudden loss of weight) or he was poisoned by someone close to him. In any case...aww bless.

This post was linked to at FreeRepublic. Commenter RoadKingSE said:

Also, he has lost a lot of weight.

We know what he's been eating.

Earlier, Eye Raki described the arrival of Mahdi Army dead for burial at the Imam Ali Shrine:

After more praising of Moqtada and cursing of Malaki, an old man, probably around 60 years of age, after hearing the chant “and Malaki is the enemy of Allah” shouted “no…you are the enemies of Allah”. He was quickly taken away by the police for his own protection.

Saddam Day

Remember, remember,
The Ninth of April

Somehow this picture, embodying Saddam's meglomania, omnipresence, hypocrisy, and open blasphemy, says so much about what came to an end 5 years ago today.

The mass graves are horrible, yes, but consider the steady diet of surrealism-as-realism that Iraqi's were expected to eat every single day in all aspects of their lives. No wonder post-Saddam Iraq has been what it has been.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Fools!!! (Wishing Out Loud)

As with Reporter Dahr Jamail I referenced in the original Fools!!! post, poor Matthew Yglesias of the Atlantic Monthly is looking for any hope that Mookie will pull this one off:
Can someone ask Petraeus and Crocker about this: "Iraq's top Shiite religious leaders have told anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr not to disband his Mehdi Army, an al-Sadr spokesman said Monday amid fresh fighting in the militia's Baghdad strongholds." [CNN] That looks like Sadr's checkmated Maliki to me. First Maliki tried to crush the Mahdi Army with force. He couldn't. Then both Sadr and Maliki agreed on a political deal to kick the dispute upstairs to the religious authorities. Then the authorities backed Sadr...Sadr's forces are endorsed by the local religious authorities and they're the only ones untainted by collaboration with the extremely unpopular foreign occupiers. That's the position you want to be in.

The hopeless Andrew Sulivan takes this report and leaps to the conclusion that Mookie has been endorsed by SISTANI. Excuse me as I guffaw heartily into my sleeve.
1) FIRST (and this is the important) It doesn't matter WHO has said JAM should not disband; Maliki is not "checkmated." He has the government of Iraq --for the first time it seems-- unified behind him. If necessary, he'll keep drilling Mahdi Army members with hot lead until Sadr City, Basra, and Najaf bloom from the fertilization of their rotten corpses.
2) The Ja'ish Al-Mahdi have been nothing but contemptuous of Sistani since the Askariya shrine was blown. Why he, or his people, would want to help JAM at this point is beyond me.
3) Sistani's sect is (as a rule of thumb) against religious leaders involving themselves in politics.
4) The Sadrist spokesman (exactly how many spokesmen does Mookie have anyway?) does not reference Sistani as one of the religious leaders who doesn't want JAM disbanded.
5) This is within HOURS of Sadr's promise to consult the Shi'a leadership from Najaf to Qom; boy, those conversations must have been pretty short!

Finally, Nibras Kazimi (whose post I really wanted to save for an Iraqi blogger round-up...grrrrr) has recited the chaotic pandemonium of contradictory declarations coming out of JAM:

And yet, the Sadrists keep sending out confusing signals signifying the confusion within their ranks. It happens, when defeat devours one’s will. “We will not disarm”. “We need to calm things down”. “We will fight”. “We will flee”. “No fair!” “We will march!” “We will stay home.” “A Sadrist?! Who me?”

Here is what this latest announcement proves. The Mahdi Army wants Sadr for a figure-head and nothing else. They don't care what he says or Qom says or Sistani says or what their gray-haired granny says: They ain't laying down their arms until they have to. If some "religious leaders" are backing JAM, I wish they would announce who they are. Then the Iraqi Army can make a visit to their mosques and do a detailed search for weapons caches and carbomb factories.

The Fools!!! Part 2

Sadr cancels anti-US demo

'Turncoat' Basra police pursued
But I thought Sadr and Iran "cleverly" called off the fight there?

Al-Sadr Threatens to End Cease-Fire
Yes, he seriously did threaten this. We have found Baghdad Bob's replacement.

Is Muqtada Al-Sadr Doomed? (CBS News)
If the "Tiffany" network had begun to get a clue, things would be really bad. But no fear, Kevin Drum still thinks Sadr has Iraq by the tail. Sadr will be being dragged from a spider hole and these guys will be talking about his "soft power".

Statesmanship In Baghdad (Investors Business Daily)
These guys *do* have a clue:
"If the Mahdi Army were winning militarily, al-Sadr would not be offering Maliki any concessions."

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Fools! They think they can winning!

Evil genius Muqty "Mookie" Al-Sadr controls Iraq's future
with the power of his mind.

The title of this post is taken from a Stephen Cobert riff on something Rudy Guliani said of Mitt Romney (the then-perceived leader in the Republican presidential race) after having failed to place in the first three successive primaries: "I think I’ve lulled him into a false sense of security.

Yesterday, MHZ posted about going to hear American reporter Dahr Jamail talk about Iraq. At his book-signing, MHZ took Jamail to task for (as he saw it) boosting for Sadr. Besides calling for an immediate withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq, Jamail had said that:

The recent operations against Muqtada al-Sadr in Basra were all strategically and politically a victory for Muqtada, which proved that he’s smart in both these aspects.

Uh oh. How clever of Muqty to unconditionally call for his Mahdi Army to stop resisting in Basra. Now JAM faces unanimous opposition from all the other major parties in Iraq: Shi'a, Kurdish, and Sunni. Genius! The Iraqi government is on the verge of passing a law to block all political parties with militias from participating in Iraqi politics, and Muqty says he'll consider DISBANDING the Mahdi Army. He's got them right where he wants them!

Today, Bill Roggio of The Long War Journal posts the following:

The pressure on Sadr and his Mahdi Army started on Sunday after Maliki announced the plans to pass legislation to prevent political parties with militias from participating in the political process. "The first step will be adding language to a draft election bill banning parties that operate militias from fielding candidates in provincial balloting this fall," Reuters reported on Sunday. "The government intends to send the draft to parliament within days and hopes to win approval within weeks."

The declaration caught the normally triumphant Sadrist politicians off guard. "We, the Sadrists, are in a predicament," Hassan al Rubaie, a Sadrist member of parliament said the day the news broke. "OUR POLITICAL ISOLATION WAS VERY CLEAR AND REAL DURING THE MEETING" he said, referring to the meeting of the Political Council for National Security, where the legislation was announced. Rubaie confirmed the Sadrists have now been isolated politically. "EVEN THE BLOCS THAT HAD IN THE PAST SUPPORTED US ARE NOW AGAINST US AND WE CANNOT STOP THEM from taking action against us in parliament," Rubaie said. "We must go and explain to [Sadr] in person that there's a problem."

The Sadrist movement has been caught off guard by the government's announcement, and is making conflicting statements. One aid said Sadr is rushing to consult senior Shia clerics in Iraq and Iran for guidance. Another aide backtracked. He denied Sadr was seeking advice from senior clerics and the decision to disband was Sadr's alone.

"Muqtada al Sadr has ordered his offices in Najaf and Qom to form a delegation to visit [Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani] in Najaf and (other leaders) in Qom [in Iran] to discuss disbanding the Mahdi Army," Hassan Zargani told Reuters on April 7. "If they order the Mahdi Army to disband, Muqtada al Sadr and the Sadr movement will obey the orders of the religious leaders."

Now Muqty is going to crawl on his belly to Sistani hoping he'll bail him out again. Fat chance.

Oh, yes, Muqty is soooo smart!

Raed Jarrar is drinking again...

Raed Jarrar, standing in front of my mom,
as they shop at First Monday in Canton, TX

...and as he does during these periods, he is showing his true colors. From Washington DC or Nob Hill, San Francisco or wherever he is currently panhandling, he refers to the Absolut Vodka ad mini-kerfuffle, saying:

Oh, Lorrrddddda! Mexico and Sweden have joined the axis of evil... the dark siddde. How darrrrrre they insult our beloved-fat-lazy-botoxed-depressed goddess... Ammmmerricaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Look, Raed. You're not an American. You're a fat, whiskey-soaked, dog-faced ass, unwelcome in every other country in the world, suckling like a hungry piglet on America's prosperity and liberty. You're a dead-beat squatter. You're a super-star among hypocrites. There is a line that would stretch to the moon of people who would love to be standing where you are now, and it would be hard to find any less deserving. So try being silent before even your tolerant American neighbors lose patience with you.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Should Reporters Be Expected To Try To See Things For Themselves?

The Sensory Homunculus is an image that shows the relative amount of cerebral cortex surface area given over to processing the different sensory inputs and motor outputs of human nervous system. It is an exactly acurate representation of the human body except that the individual parts are wildly distorted. See M.H.Z.'s comment to this post for what the heck this has to do with anything.

Iraq correspondent Paul McLeary is troubled by the lack of American reporters there relying on first-hand knowledge. (h/t Countercolumn) The easiest way to do this is to embed with a military unit. But:
The fact that I spent four weeks in Iraq and only ran into one stringer working for an American newspaper is testament to how few reporters are out in the field. Of course, there are reporters in Iraq, and my time bouncing between combat outposts constitutes an official census; but it is significant that in every unit I was with, I was the first reporter they had seen. It was the same story back in 2006, when I embedded with the 2nd Marine Division in Fallujah.

He notes cost benefits for reporters in Iraq to embed:

But embedding with infantry units is free. Flights to Kuwait, where the Army public affairs team picks you up and puts you on a military aircraft to Iraq, and insurance still cost, but once you’re embedded, your expenses end.

A couple months ago, embedded journalist, Michael Yon, spoke of the indispensiblity of first-hand reporting:

The best reporting comes from reporters who have spent the most time on the ground here, because the context is complex and evolving. Long distance reporting is like exploring the moon through a telescope.

But anti-war readers are uninterested in reading about the good-guys winning in Iraq. And since that is what appears to be happening right now, if you want to attract a large readership, you need to find stories that EVERYBODY wants to know about: something other than Iraq.

So newpapers are sending fewer of their reporters to Iraq and they are less picky about the ethics of the ones they rely on.

Since the Iraqi Army began its crack-down on Ja'ish Al-Mahdi (JAM), the willingness of the major American media reporters to rely on "trusted sources" as they themselves park in the Green Zone seems to have driven Nibras Kazimi (Talisman Gate) nearly to distraction. He has written 10 posts since March 25th, every one of them decrying bad or malicious reportage and the press's cowerage in the Green Zone, NYC, or Washington D.C. As he said in his last post:

It's been 11 days since Operation Cavalry Charge was launched, and the New York Times and the Washington Post have yet to send one of their eponymous reporters down to Basra. All their news stories about Iraq have been bylined from Baghdad, many hundreds of miles away from the battle and its aftermath. Doesn't this strike you as somewhat negligent?

On the other hand, there is one major media reporter who sees the value of embedding. No, I'm not talking about Yon or Totten. They haven't been enlisted by a major newspaper to my knowlege. It's Sudarsan Raghaven of the Washington Post who is embedded with the Madhi Army. Pat Dollard considers this traitorous, and considers his reporting to be JAM propaganda. I don't consider it traitorous on it's face, but Nibras Kazimi also has had a problem with his objectivity re: JAM's battle with the government.

Here's the deal on embedding with JAM or the insurgents or the jihadis:
A reporter who wants to embed with US forces can print whatever he likes without retribution (death or abduction) or losing his credentials. It is absurd to presume the same of any reporter embedding with the aforementioned three, so the objectivity of a reporter embedded with them should be questioned obviously, even doubted. Unless a reporter embedded with JAM, the insurgents, or jihadis has shown consistent ability to undercut his hosts (I'll believe it when I see it), he should be presumed to be nothing but their propaganda arm. That includes especially Michael Ware (website

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Silencing 24 Steps to Liberty ?!?!

Treasure of Baghdad has posted a message from his friend Omar of 24 Steps to Liberty saying he's been blocked by Blogger for a possible Terms of Service violation.

Is someone trying to silence him? I know there are *ssholes out there who would love to try it.

He's requested a review, which will happen within two business days.
Please leave a comment here or at BT's with your thoughts on the matter.

H/T to annie, of all people, whose comment @ 24's alerted me to this.

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Why Is the Power in Iraq so shoddy after 5 years and 3 1/2 Billion American Dollars

Here ya go. Finally, a decent answer. Thank Anne Garrels of NPR.

Moral: Iraqis assume that 150K American soldiers, American money and American know-how can overcome any screwy behavior by 20 million Iraqis in order to accomplish anything it wants in Iraq. Americans presume that too. Turns out, it ain't so...unless the US decides to become Iraq's new dictator. American's are not willing to do that. Honestly, I suspect many Iraqi bloggers (even the most adamantly nationalistic and pan-Arabic) secretly wish it would.

Also, 45 years of dictatorship seriously under-cuts the national pride of a country's citizens.

Here are the details on the reported shoddy power:

  1. Under Saddam, the Iraqi power-grid was designed to provide power for Baghdad and "to hell with the rest of the country". After Saddam, power is distributed equitably to all Iraqis. See, under Saddam, there were no blogs for people to complain about having no electricity. So things were quieter then.
  2. Today, some areas are stealing more than their share. Operators are bribed to keep power flowing to certain areas. This is done by certain groups to reward their friends and punish their enemies (just as Saddam used the power grid). Consequently, the system regularly overloads and collapses.
  3. Criminals steal materials and insurgents routinely blow-up transmission towers.
  4. Demand has increased 125% since 2003 since Iraqis can buy appliances now.
  5. The US updated the powerplants with "easily installed" modern combustion turbines to increase power, since Iraq has lots of natural gas to run them efficently. But Iraq never harvested Iraq's natural gas under Saddam. The Oil Ministry is not providing petroleum to run the turbines, "preferring to export it or...steal it."
  6. Two years ago the US bought 20 huge generators but they are still sitting at the port awaiting red tape and ministerial wrangling.
  7. A regular rotation of US advisors meant that they often lacked the institutional knowledge and relationships to overcome Iraqi instransegence.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Weekend Reading

Wrapping Up the Basra Operation

The Iraqi bloggers continue to vet the success, failure, and coverage of Operation Fix Muqty.

Talisman Gate
The Great Green Zone Freak-Out of ‘08 Says "I told you so" about reporters and diplomats wetting their pants in the Green Zone during Operation Fix Muqty.
Numbers, Sources and Assertions Continues to strip the bark off of James Glanz (NYT) regarding his reporting of the numbers of police who defected to the Mahdi Army. Then he moves on to WaPo's Sudarsan Raghavan whom he implies has a "perversely masochistic yearning for getting all tarred and feathered". Nibras would like to see the GoI strip some visas from certain reporters:
"...all of Iraq’s neighbors use visas and access as disciplinary measures against western reporters who may write things damaging to their nations’ reputations....[Iraq's] judicial system [has] yet to adapt to slapping controls on such excessive margins for libel and propaganda, so Maliki’s only option at this time may be to yank some press passes and send them packing. Talisman Gate would strongly support such a measure."

IraqPundit The Battle for Basra and Mookie and His Fan Club
IP agrees with Talisman Gate, offering his own fisking of the favorable coverage Muqty is getting from the NYT and WaPo:
"If Moktada wants to guarantee good turnout for his march next week, maybe he should stage it in a place like Washington’s National Press Building. He might be pleasantly surprised with the result."

Catharsis Underestimating Muqtada
Abbas does not see that Maliki deserves any props for his (continuing) operation in Basra:
Hey, if al-Maliki is indeed capable of saying what he says is going to do, then I'm all for this guy by all means, the Sadrists, with their strongly supernatural bent and retrograde barbarism isn't something you can negotiate with, let alone be secure in having along in building a meaningful democracy. Unfortunately, the reality on the ground is nowhere near what Mr. Maliki is talking about, he arrested the head of Tharallah, an independent militia today, okay, so you got a petty milita, but I would only approve of what you're doing when you get the Sadrists, and that's not going to happen anytime soon. the Sadrists are way, way more powerful.
By the way (at risk of being accused of having "perversely masochistic yearnings" ), check out the thread in the comments in his post yesterday to follow the thread where Abbas says to me "you stupid fucking idiot".
New post today: The Sadrist "Line" Abbas's translation of an article by Ali Bdaywi.

Baghdad Bureau From a Friend
Leila Fadel posts a rebuttal to her previous post from a US soldier.

Iraqi Mojo Shia versus Shia
Mojo discusses the differing opinions re: Muqty among his family members.

The Totten Expedition

Michael Totten has been doing excellent coverage west of Baghdad. Great pictures as always:
The Liberation of Karmah, Part I and Part II
The Dungeon of Fallujah Part 1 and Part II
In the Villages of Al Anbar

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Operation Fix Muqty: Post Op

Operation Fix Muqty
Operation Fix Muqty II

NYT: "Iraq's prime minister says the military operation to clear the southern city of Basra of Shiite militia violence has been a success"

The Bloggers

Talisman Gate Nibras still considers Operation Fix Muqty an important success. Yet, he is still quite exorcized about the media's coverage. He takes heart in Maliki's promise to continue the operation in Basra now that those Mahdi Army members still loyal to Sadr have ceased resisting:
And eventually, Maliki may nab Muqtada over some infraction as banal as tax-evasion. Maliki is not supposed to be a performing monkey for the western media. His job entails doing the very kind of things he’d gone and got accomplished in Basra. Today, Basra is calm and Iraq’s national army is in charge, not the Mahdi’s. Well done, Mr. Maliki.
Interesting stuff from his post:
1) Maliki has promised to keep arresting the names on his list, and he has demonstrated that he’s a man who means what he says. The NYTimes does not have much of circulation in Iraq and almost nobody watches CNN, so maybe that’s why the regular folks I’ve been speaking to are so admiring of Maliki.
2) I just woke somebody up in Baghdad who usually ends up knowing this sort of thing and he completely dismissed the press report that Iran's 'Sardar Hajji' Qasim Suleimani, head of the Revolutionary Guard's Qarargah Quds (Force), was somehow involved in brokering a 'ceasefire' between Maliki and al-Sadr as a "naive fabrication". The original press report quoted anonymous parliamentary sources.

NIW definitely DOES NOT consider the operation a success:
Al Maliki, who I cannot Friggin believe just stated today that Last week’s battles IS A SUCCESS!!! Is he pulling an April Fools on us??? Is that possible?

Eye Raki says the governor of Najaf has cut a deal with the Mahdi Army to not fight openly there regardless of what the national government does.

Attawi's mother's second cousin's husband was killed when a JAM morter (they're the ones using those, right?) hit their house. She called it a missile, but since she doesn't state that he house was being occupied by JAM, I think that's unlikely.

In the Media

Wretchard judges whether Sadr or Maliki lost...decides to give loss to Sadr
Pat Dollard Admiral Mullen Addresses Meaning of Sadr’s Basra Violence
posts the interview discussed by Raed and Layla Anwar
Here's a Memri post of the interview. Jule's Crittenden sums it up:
Pro-acts of resistance vs. the occupiers, aka the Great Satan. That’s us. It’s Moqtada al-Sadr a couple of days ago... Saddam was bad but America is worse. Baathists are still abroad in the land. The goal of the Mahdi Army is to liberate Iraq, whatever it takes. Also, a more Islamic society, the Mahdi will be here shortly, and al-Sadr’s got Iran on-side. No big surprises there, but it’s nice to hear our latest partner for peace say it. The interesting part is that he says the battles against the Great Satan must take place in the open, not in the cities where they might harm civilians. This would be something new and different for the Mahdi Army, which reiterated its preference for the urban, human-shielded battlefield as recent as last weekend.
WaPo The War Over the War
BBC wins Most Clueless Story Angle of the Month: Iraqi death toll climbs sharply in March

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