The Mahdi Army’s strategy

Tom Lasseter of McClatchy Newspapers is one of the best war reporters in the business. So I listen when he has something important to say. His latest piece, on Moqtada al-Sadr’s militia, the Mahdi Army, is a must read: BAGHDAD, Iraq – The U.S. military drive to train and equip Iraq’s security forces has unwittingly ...

604301_sadr_pensive_05.jpg
604301_sadr_pensive_05.jpg

Tom Lasseter of McClatchy Newspapers is one of the best war reporters in the business. So I listen when he has something important to say. His latest piece, on Moqtada al-Sadr's militia, the Mahdi Army, is a must read:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S. military drive to train and equip Iraq's security forces has unwittingly strengthened anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, which has been battling to take over much of the capital city as American forces are trying to secure it.

It's not necessarily news that Sadr's men have infiltrated, well, the entire government. What's new is that it wasn't supposed to be this way—the new security plan for Baghdad was billed as allowing the United States to go after the Mahdi Army and put them in their place. That's why the U.S. military proudly announced the arrest of some 600 members of the hard line Shiite militia the week of the State of the Union address, in order to underscore a new, get-tough approach with bad actors.

Tom Lasseter of McClatchy Newspapers is one of the best war reporters in the business. So I listen when he has something important to say. His latest piece, on Moqtada al-Sadr’s militia, the Mahdi Army, is a must read:

BAGHDAD, Iraq – The U.S. military drive to train and equip Iraq’s security forces has unwittingly strengthened anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia, which has been battling to take over much of the capital city as American forces are trying to secure it.

It’s not necessarily news that Sadr’s men have infiltrated, well, the entire government. What’s new is that it wasn’t supposed to be this way—the new security plan for Baghdad was billed as allowing the United States to go after the Mahdi Army and put them in their place. That’s why the U.S. military proudly announced the arrest of some 600 members of the hard line Shiite militia the week of the State of the Union address, in order to underscore a new, get-tough approach with bad actors.

But Lasseter’s piece strongly implies that this was all a public relations charade, and that the Sadrists are in fact laying low, waiting to take over in earnest once the Americans leave. It also suggests that the Mookster may have been throwing the Americans a bone by not putting up too much of a fuss over the arrests. Maybe those 600 were renegades, or parts of factions that Moqtada couldn’t control. Whatever the case, it’s clear that the Mahdi Army is as strong as ever. 

Tag: Iraq

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