8 years ago
I have posted several times on the battle for Baghdad, begging for rapid and intense offensive action. The only boundaries on our offensive action should be the limits of intelligence. Our intelligence network should be large, deep and well-paid enough by now to be able to decipher where the insurgents are, who the bomb-makers are, and where they are located. Al-Sadr’s militia, the so-called Mahdi army, continues to be a problem, and Iraqi PM Maliki will not decisively act against him:
Diwaniyah, 80 miles south of Baghdad, is a Shiite-dominated city where the influence of Mahdi Army has been gradually increasing. It already runs a virtual parallel government in Sadr City, a slum in eastern Baghdad.
The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, has found it difficult to rein in al-Sadr, whose movement holds 30 of the 275 seats in parliament and five Cabinet posts.
Al-Sadr’s backing also helped al-Maliki win the top job during painstaking negotiations within the Shiite alliance that led to the ouster of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
Al-Sadr mounted two major uprisings against the American-led coalition in 2004 when U.S. authorities closed his newspaper and pushed an Iraqi judge to issue an arrest warrant against him.
But American forces have also been wary of confronting the Mahdi Army because of al-Sadr’s clout over the government and his large following among Shiites, who are in a majority in Iraq.
Nine U.S. troops died over the weekend, eight of which were from roadside bombs (IEDs) in and around Baghdad.
As I have suggested repeatedly, al-Sadr’s influence and power should make him a prime target. The notion that because he is supported by the Shiite people the U.S. should be reluctant to engage him is, to me, analogous to saying that because Nasrallah is supported by some of the Islamicists in southern Lebanon, Israel should be reluctant to go after him. This is manifestly absurd.
Finally, Baghdad is a restive city. It has been said that the battle for Baghdad will be measured in months, not days. But at the rate of nine U.S. troops per weekend, if this rate continues, we could be sustaining hundreds more U.S. deaths to IEDs before Baghdad is pacified.
This should be intollerable to both the brass and the U.S. public. Not a single military spokesman has proferred a single reason why a broad, sweeping, aggressive, offensive action to clean out Baghdad, capture or kill al-Sadr, and kill the bomb-makers is not possible and in order. If it is politics that is holding us back, then let’s bring our boys home now.
Politics loses, not wins, wars. This is still a war, isn’t it?