Tag Archives: al Sadr

Cease Fire In Iraq?

The government of Prime Minister Maliki was undoubtedly caught in a cross fire between demands of the Bush administration for proof he could impose peace in Iraq and determination of Muqtada al-Sadr to resist any attempt of eliminating his militia. The result was an ill-fated attack by about 30,000 Iraqi army and police upon militant forces in Basra, a city sitting atop major oil reserves. In the bitter fighting, hundreds were killed or wounded and there is no evidence al-Sadr’s forces have been beaten. However, the radical cleric issued a cease fire on condition the Iraq government ends its attack. “We call for an end to armed appearances in Basra and other other provinces. Anyone carrying a weapon and targeting government institutions will not be one of us.”

The Iraq government is now under pressure to end “illegal arrests” of members of the Mahdi army and implementation of an amnesty for those arrested. The Iraq government regarded al-Sadrs proposal as a “positive step.” However, American airplanes are bombing targets in Basra and at least 300 people reportedly have been killed and hundreds of others wounded.

The Iraqi army attack has not accompllished its goals of enforcing peace in the Basra are. In addition to al-Sadr’s forces there are other millitant groups still in control of areas in the city. The fiasco of this attempt merely once again reflects the misunderstanding of the Bush administration that military rather than political action is essential to bring about peace in Iraq.

Fighting Rages In Iraq-Is The Surge Working?

Senator John McCain and Vice President Dick Cheney informed America after their recent trips to Iraq about the success of the Bush surge and that Iraq was headed for a final victory over exremists. Yesterday, Iraq’s Prime Minister was in the Basra area supervising efforts by the Iraq army to quell violence which has erupted in the oil rich area. He issued a three day deadline for Shiite militia to lay down their arms as groups fought over who would control the city. At least 55 are dead and over 300 wounded as fighting escalates between rival groups seeking to impose their will on the city. General Kevin Bergner of the US army noted: “This has been a difficult and challenging few days” for the Iraqi government.

The violence raises fears that radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr will end his unilateral cease fire and unleash his Mahdi army in a new outburst of violence which can only add greater strains on the Iraq government’s efforts to handle al-Qaeda forces. There are reports al-Sadr sent representatives who are askng Prime Minister Maliki to leave the Basra area and that no negotiation would take place until Iraq army forces cease their action against Shiite militias. The Sadr militia is angry at recent raids conducted by US forces and the Iraq army against them while they were obiding by the cease fire.

The Iraq government issued a rather interesting statement to the populace. “This is not a battle against the Mahdi army not is it a proxy war between the United States and Iran. It is the government of Iraq taking the necessary action to deal with criminals on the streets.”

Meanwhile in Baghdad mortar and rocket attacks hit the Green Zone and caused the death of at least one American. One assumes that Senator McCain will not be walking the streets of Baghdad claiming peace has been restored to the capital due to the surge.

Iraq Mahdi Militia Escalates Fighting

Violence continues spreading across southern regions of Iraq and into Baghdad after at least 12 people were killed in Basra. A spokesperson for British forces, which are at the Basra airport, said the Iraqi army had mounted a cordon around two districts of the city and the police were attacking rebel outposts. Meanwhile, five districts of the central Iraq city of Kut fell to followers of radical cleric al-Sadr. A police spokesperson in the city said they needed help in maintaining law and order. “We ask US forces to help us with aircraft and vehicles. the miltants have spread out through Kut,” said Captain Majid Al-Imara.

The situation in Basra continues to pose problems for the security of the city. About 4,200 British soldiers are at the Basra airport but they will not, at the present time, engage in land battles with Mahdi forces. However, they are providing some aerial assistance but avoiding involvement in the Iraq directed offense against militants in Basra. Observers have seen extensive firing between the factions vying to control the city.

Shiite Mahdi Army Battles US And Iraq Forces

Senator John McCain is boasting that his ideas to increase the number of American troops has produced the components of victory in Iraq. Usnfortunately, he forgot to inform the Mahdi militia of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr the surge was working. Armed Mahdi militia appeared on the streets of Baghdad for the first time in months as al-Sadr announced a nationwide campaign of strikes and demonstrations to protest a government crackdown on his movement. US and Iraq troops supported by helicopters fought Shiite militiamen on the streets of Baghdad and the city of Mosul in the north was also the scene of fighting between the groups. An escalation in fighting could end Sadr’s unilaterial cease fire and spark a major war that would make a mockery of Bush and Cheney claims the war in Iraq was headed toward victory.

In southern Iraq fighting continued for control of Basra as Shiite groups clashed with the Iraq army. It was unclear exactly who was in control of the city since Iraq police prevented reporters from having free access to areas where there was fighting. Brtish troops who had been occupying Basra for years, but had recently left the city in charge of the Iraq government, remained at the Basra airport and were avoiding becoming engaged in any fighting.

During the past several months there has been confusion as to the best way to handle the Madhi army and the Iraq government has probably decidede on a policy of confrontation. The result is more fighting. Were there other possibilities to resolve issues raised by the Mahdi army?

Iraq Cleric Warns Of Civil Revolt

Radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who has imposed his own cease fire, has become furious at recent events in the city of Basra where Iraq army units attacked members of his Mahdi army. He is now calling for a “civil revolt” after the crackdown on his army resulted in the loss of 22 lives. Al-Sadr told the Iraq people: “We call upon all Iraqis to stage sit-ins all over as a first step. And, if the people’s demands are not respcted,by the Iraqi government, the second step will be to declare a civil revolt in Baghdad and all other provinces.” There was mention of a “third step” but not details were forthcoming as to what it would entail. Iraq General Ali Zaidan said his forces were engaged in dealing with “outlaw” and TV footage revealed firing in Basra and people getting killed. British forces which have been in Basra from the initial days of the Iraq war are not getting involved in the fighting.

Basra is being contested by several rival groups including al-Sadr’s Mahdi army, the Supreme Iraq Council and the smaller Fadhila party. If al-Sadr ends his truce there is no telling how it will impact the war in Iraq except to deepen divisions within the nation and escalate fighting. Fighting and killing in Iraq has begun to rise during the past few weeks after the decline that resulted from the surge. Perhaps, the Bush administration was too quick to claim a victory and the future is still clouded as to what will happen.

General Petraeus-Violence Has Declined

General Petraeus cited a 60% decline in violence within Iraq over the past six months which opens new possibilities regarding the length of deployment of American forces. He attributes the reduction in incidents of violent attacks to actions by US military forces as well as the decision by Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr to impose a cease-fire on the part of his forces. The main uncertainty about roadside bombings according to Petraeus is the difficulty in determining “if that’s because there has already been a cessation of of provisions of those items, or if there has been direction to stop.” General Petrasue emphasized that he was not claiming there was lights at the end of the tunnel and preferred keeping his head down focused on the reality of what is happening today.

General Petraeus raises key issues concerning what exactly is happening in Iraq. Are we witnessing the destruction of hostile forces or have terrorists decided to switch tactics. Are they waiting until American forces withdraw before resuming terrorist actions or have their capabilities to inflict damage been severely diminished?

Three Typical Days In Iraq’s Provinces — Mayhem

The newspaper, Azzaman, over the past three days reported several stories about fighting and killing in Iraq cities far away from Baghdad. The American press focuses mainly on large cities and tends to ignore the situation in the provinces. In the cities of Diwaniya and Karabala, there has been virtually non-stop fighting between several different factions, none of which are connected to al-Qaeda although Bush insists that group is responsible for violence. Unauthorized gun men belonging to groups associated with the Shiite cleric, al Sadr engaged in fighting with unruly militants connected to the Supreme Islamic Iraq Council. In the midst of their fighting another group appeared on the scene which goes by the name of Kataib al-Hussein and no one is aware of connections between this new faction and any existing group.

These fragments of stories continually appear in Iraq newspapers like Azzaman. Men are fighting for power or religious reasons or because they hate America or because it is a lucrative occupation. The American press reports about the “surge” and ignores the daily lives of Iraqis which are filled with terror, violence and death. A top scientist, Dr. Mohammed al-Attabi was killed this week, because he was a scientist. Such is life in Iraq.