8 years, 10 months ago
Five days ago when warning of the potential affects of lack of political will to see the battle for Basra through to the end, In The Battle in Basra, we said:
These elements will never renounce violence, but the danger is that they will call Maliki’s bluff and make a show of standing down, only to watch the Iraqi troops redeploy elsewhere and strike up the violence later when they don’t face such trouble. We have seen this scene play out for quite a while now, starting in 2004 with Sadr. If this happens, Maliki will look like an inept stooge.
The lack of political will seems to have caused just that, with Maliki calling for repeated extensions of the amnesty program for the Sadrists and lack of progress by the Iraqi Army.
Residents buried their dead after calm returned to the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Monday, but fighting broke out in Baghdad despite a truce called by Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to end a week of bloodshed.
Sadr called his Mehdi Army fighters off the streets on Sunday, nearly a week after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki launched a crackdown on them, sparking clashes that spread through the mainly Shi’ite south and also the capital.
Political analysts said the government offensive in the oil port of Basra appeared to have backfired by exposing the weakness of Maliki’s army.
Worse still, the Iranians brokered the ceasefire and stand down of the Sadrists. The indications of lack of political will are numerous:  The British are sitting behind barbed wire at the Basra airport while the battle ensues,  Maliki extended the offer of amnesty multiple times,  the Iraqi Army targeted the Sadrists and left the SIIC unmolested,  Maliki appears to be hailing the ceasefire as a good move,  Iran is further empowered, and  Sadr and the SIIC leadership are still alive, unmolested and in command or their respective militias (perhaps Sadr less so, with Iran more so than before).
The upshot is that the sickness in the Maliki administration is laid bare and the strength of Iran was clear from the beginning. The Captain’s Journal has understood this all along. But for the uninitiated, these things might be revelatory. Now that the truth is unmasked, what will be the response of the Multinational Force? What will Maliki do, if anything?