Tag Archives: Mahdi militia

Shiite Cleric Warns About End To Cease Fire

Muqtada al-Sadr, Shiite leader of the Mahdi militia, warned the Iraq government he might end the self imposed cease fire which has held his men away from fighting American and Iraq armed forces. However, his comments did not stop US and Iraq military forces from continuing their efforts to defeat the Mahdi militia in their stronghold in Sadr City. At least 12 American soldiers have died since fierce fighting began on Sunday. Iraq soldiers banned the use of vehicles on the streets of the capital for the coming days. Al-Sadr told a press conference, “I call on the Iraqi government, if it exists, to work to protect the Iraqi people, stop the spilling of blood, and the abuse of its honor.” He wants the Iraq government to join with him in demanding evacuation of American forces from Iraq.

Confusion still reigns in Iraq as its government confronts a host of enemies and with the end of Sadr’s support, there are fewer allies around to be of assistance. One reality that must be faced is the present situation emerges as the surge concludes. There is still civil war in Iraq, Iraqi civilians are dying, and so are American soldiers.

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.