10 years ago
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The Arab League has called on the United Nations Security Council to set a timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq. Continuing with the demands, in a request that might be humorous if it weren’t so sad, “the list also includes a call for the fair distribution of wealth and the disbanding of all militias.”
The fair distribution of wealth is certainly a laudable goal, and one that might help in bringing some stability to the government. It is the next demand that catches the eye: “disbanding all militias” – as if the U.N. was capable of causing such a thing to happen. As we have noted before, Coalition Forces (primarily U.S.) are finally targeting Sadr City in the security sweeps, but still mainly engaging the so-called death squads and assumed rogue elements of the Madhi army. But by attacking the “rogue” elements, the U.S. may be tacitly admitting defeat before the surge becomes fully engaged.
The Iraqi security forces and police are heavily infiltrated with Sadrist elements, and there is no question at the moment who controls Baghdad.
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” …
“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.”
“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.”
We have previously noted the necessity to defang the Mahdi army and kill or capture Moqtada al Sadr, or at least, prevent his return to Iraq. The strengthening of the radical Shi’ites and Iran is not at all a trivial concern, and the connection between the Mahdi army and Iran is not accidental any more than Sadr’s presence in Iran during the “surge” is accidental. Iran is still training the Mahdi army, with some recent “deployments” of the Mahdi army directly from Iranian training camps.
500 members of the Mahdi Army have allegedly returned to Iraq during the last two days after receiving training in neighboring Iran, the Haqq Agency reports. Unnamed sources told the agency that several hundred Mahdi Army militiamen have been training in Iranian camps in areas bordering the Maysan Governorate, south of Iraq, for the last three months.
We have discussed the need to view OIF as a regional conflict, along with recommending full engagement in the covert war with Iran. There seems to be significant action on this front.
Iran’s dep. defense minister for eight years up until 2005 – and before that a prominent Revolutionary Guards General, Alireza Asquari, 63, has not been seen since his disappearance in mysterious circumstances in Istanbul on Feb. 7.
The missing general has been identified as the officer in charge of Iranian undercover operations in central Iraq, according to DEBKAfile’s intelligence and Iranian sources. He is believed to have been linked to – or participated in – the armed group which stormed the US-Iraqi command center in Karbala south of Baghdad Jan. 20 and snatched five American officers. They were shot outside the Shiite city.
An Middle East intelligence source told DEBKAfile that the Americans could not let this premeditated outrage go unanswered and had been hunting the Iranian general ever since.
The BAZTAB Web site reported that Feb. 6, two non-Turkish citizens made a reservation for Gen Asquari for three nights at the Istanbul Ceylan Hotel paying cash. He arrived the next day from Damascus and immediately disappeared.
The Turkish foreign ministry said only: “It is a very sensitive intelligence matter and the Interior Ministry is dealing with this issue.