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Sun

17

Aug

2008

Al-Sadr’s Ace Card
Sunday, 17 August 2008 20:53
by Tom Chartier
‘You have your democracy and we have our Islam. Now get out of our country.’
- Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr
Although in recent months Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has stunned the West by insisting on a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces, he remains if not the puppet leader the Bush Administration wanted, little more than the Mayor of the Green Zone.

Iraq does not actually have any viable government or leadership. Despite the false illusion of growing stability as portrayed by American propaganda, Baghdad remains one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Iraq itself sits as a time bomb ready to fraction into at least three distinct states, one Kurdish, one Sunni Arab and one Shi’ite Arab. Of course this is nothing anyone who has followed the events in Iraq does not know.

The presence of US military forces provides the loose glue that appears to hold the country together. It’s more like trying to reattach a severed head with a band-aid for the TV cameras.

The Neocon movement, the White House and John McCain continue with their idiotic delusions of “victory” as if magically one day the people of Iraq will lay down their arms and shower US troops with the flower pedals they so rudely neglected to provide after the fall of Saddam Hussein. That’s as likely to happen as Brett Farve winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Big Oil has returned to Iraq. As such, let Big Oil deal with the Iraqis as best they can. Certainly if both parties are making a profit without the presence of US forces the motivation to resist will fade away to a small handful of hotheads.

Is an Iraq in a state of perpetual chaos, and thus totally crippled, the goal of a handful of paranoid Zionists? If so, has not the US been duped by Israel into providing that “security barrier” free of charge but at massive US expense?

Is the US afraid Iran will swoop into Iraq and steal the oil profits away… or the “glory of victory?” Foolish paranoia. Iranians will be no more welcomed as “liberators” than thethe US forces have been. Iran may try to tervene under the guise of security, stability or maintaining peace ononly to inherit the quagmire of dead troops and bankruptcy.

Sorry Uncle Scam, you’re adventure has been a total failure, just as has George W. Bush’s Presidency and Nancy Pelosi’s mamandate to impeach. The huckster Ahmed Chalabi was not crowned dquo;president” of Iraq as originally intended. Nouri al-Maliki has proven to show more backbone than expected… or desired by the Bush kingmakers. “The surge” is a complete ilillusion of order as Iraq could explode at the drop of a falafel.

So whwho really runs this country without a government called Iraq?

Silly question. No one runs Iraq. Like Lebanon before it, Iraq runs Iraq. A more apt question is who has the most power in Iraq? Now we’re gegetting somewhere.

There is a simple answer; Shi’ite cleric Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr holds ththe keys to power in Iraq. As the son of the popular Grand Ayatollah Sadeq al-Sadr who was rdered… or martyred if you prefer… along with other ininfluential members of the al-Sadr clan by Saddam Hussein, Muqtada mmands great respect amongst the Iraqi Shia. He is a link to Iraqi dreams of liberation… yes liberation… from under the iron thumb of the US backed dictator Saddam Hussein… or the occupying US forces. As the most popular man in Iraq he heads the lalargest and most powerful militia the Mahdi Army.

A strict nationalist, al-Sadr has far outsmarted the US leadership by simply refusing to play their game. He has identified the opposition not as Sunni insurgents, Kurds, other Shi’ite militias such as the Badr Brigade or even official Iraqi security forces. Al-Sadr sees the enemy as the US military occupiers. If there is relative calm in Baghdad these days, it is thanks to al-Sadr’s cease-fire ororders, not the “surge.”

Of course the Mahdi Army as had their violent moments. And hence they’ve earned a certain respect and fear as well reputation. However, al-Sadr has learned from his mistakes realizing, encounters with Americans results in the deaths of more Iraqi civilians as well as US jujustification for a longer occupation. Neither are deemed acceptable.

On ofof Friday, August 8th, Muqtada played another ace card. With orders to e bulk of his Mahdi Army to disarm he in essence instructed al-Maliki’s “government” to stand tough on the issue of a timetable for US withdrawal. A vague “time horizon” is a meaningless device to stall for as long as possible. Muqtada, like al-Maliki and the vast majority of Iraqis, wants the US out. A &l“time horizon” is unacceptable.

Of course, Muqtada’s disarmament is all contingent upon such a timetable for US withdrawal. Al-Sadr has been speaking softly but carries a big stick. Behind his disarmament instruction lays a veiled threat of much more violence. Just how ugly can the Mahdi Army make ththings if al-Sadr chooses to release the hounds?

And what will the disarmed members of the Mahdi Army do? According to SaSadrist spokesman cleric Mudhafar al-Moussawi: “Weapons are to be exclusively in the hands one group, the resistance group,” while another group called MomMomahidoun is to focus on social, religious and community work. <“Weapons are to be exclusively in the hands of one group, the resistance group,” while another group called Momahidoun is to focus on social, religious and community work.

Interesting. Is Muqtada al-Sadr setting up an alternative government in Iraq? It seems so. Arebranch with Muqtada al-Sadr as the future Supreme Leader?
lar to the Iranian system where there is a popularly elected but largely powerless political branch and a ruling religious branch with Muqtada al-Sadr as the future Supreme Leader?<

This may be the inevi“liberation” or ideal to their interests.

Although, it is far from what Westerners including the United States (regardless of who is president) and Israel would consider “liberation” or ideal to their interests.<

It may also be possibLebanon’s endless fighting. h explode into a real civil war that could easily continue into some distant “time horizon” set by various warring factors in the manner of Lebanon’s endless fighting.

Nevertheless, it would be wise for the US and al-Maliki’s government to set a timetable for withdrawal now. It will have to be set eventually. The US can no longer afford a permanent military occupation of Iraq. And “victory” is meaningless rhetoric.

Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr has raised the ante, peace under his terms or possibly worse days to come. It seems he holds all the cards. Time to fold.
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