Basra Power Struggle = Why We Should Leave Iraq

Basra Power Struggle = Why We Should Leave Iraq


The more that comes out about the Iraqi government’s clash with the Mahdi Army, the more convinced I become that we should NOT have been involved in any way, shape or form. Not only that, our continued presence there will increasingly be used as a craven political tool instead of a force to fight terrorism.

From NY Times:

EVEN if American and Iraqi forces are able to eliminate Al Qaeda in Iraq, there are still three worrisome possibilities of new forms of fighting that could divide Iraq and deny the United States any form of “victory.”

One is that the Sunni tribes and militias that have been cooperating with the Americans could turn against the central government. The second is that the struggle among Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and other ethnic groups to control territory in the north could lead to fighting in Kirkuk, Mosul or other areas.

The third risk — and one that is now all too real — is that the political struggle between the dominant Shiite parties could become an armed conflict.

Fighting is now occurring in southern Iraq and parts of Baghdad between the Mahdi Army, which is under the control of the populist cleric Moktada al-Sadr, and a coalition of forces led by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s Dawa Party and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a powerful party led by a Maliki ally, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. This latter coalition has de facto control of much of the Iraqi security forces, and Mr. Hakim’s group has its own militia, called the Badr Organization.

Much of the reporting on this fighting in Basra and Baghdad — which was initiated by the Iraqi government — assumes that Mr. Sadr and his militia are the bad guys who are out to spoil the peace, and that the government forces are the legitimate side trying to bring order. This is a dangerous oversimplification, and one that the United States needs to be far more careful about endorsing.

Want to know something more disturbing? To get al-Sadr to cooperate, Iraqi officials went into Iran to talk to him. Again, we backed this move by being involved…al-Maliki’s folks going into Iran to negotiate…with the Iranian controlled al-Sadr. And this is just the start of what is sure to be an incredibly complicated and convoluted political mess in Iraq…which will no doubt result in a strong Iraq/Iran tie one way or another. We can’t stop it.

Hell, even Allahpundit doesn’t like what he’s seeing…

I cringe every time I write about Basra since it’s impossible anymore to tell who’s allied with whom and why: Maliki, Sadr, the JAM, the “rogue” JAM, SCIRI, the Iraqi police, and, possibly in cahoots with all of them, Iran.

So what makes more sense…stay in there and be pulled into more power struggles over the upcoming elections or start to draw back forces so al-Maliki knows that he shouldn’t misuse our help?

I think the answer is obvious, because our men and women should NEVER be used to wage intra-Shia wars. Again, this isn’t al Qaeda we’re talking about here, so the threat to our national security is completely nonexistent.

Enough of this nonsense. Time to go.

  • Jimmy the Dhimmi

    First of all, despite the pre-emptive defeatism, 1)Sadr backed down in the face of the Iraqi army, and 2) Americans were not pulled into the fight.

    This NYT piece is another “what if” scenario, because the 1st “what if” – Sadr’s brigades being victorious in Basra and American troops drawn into another quagmire – didn’t happen.

    If these “what if” scenarios – the ones you point to in order to justify a withdrawal – continue to not happen, does that mean the American troop presence is doing its job and should continue as planned?

    Second, You are admitting that Iran, the greatest sponsor of trans-national terrorism, has a stake in this, and is trying to expand their influence in the region through these militias. How is that not related to our national security?

  • mw

    “Sadr backed down in the face of the Iraqi army…” – JD

    False. Right wing wishful thinking, I’ve seen this nonsense on a number of right wing blogs over the last 24. Here is what actually happened:

    The backdrop to Sadr’s dramatic statement was a secret trip Friday by Iraqi lawmakers to Qom, Iran’s holy city and headquarters for the Iranian clergy who run the country.

    There the Iraqi lawmakers held talks with Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Qods (Jerusalem) brigades of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and signed an agreement with Sadr, which formed the basis of his statement Sunday, members of parliament said.

    Ali al Adeeb, a member of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s Dawa party, and Hadi al Ameri, the head of the Badr Organization, the military wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, had two aims, lawmakers said: to ask Sadr to stand down his militia and to ask Iranian officials to stop supplying weapons to Shiite militants in Iraq…

    The Qom discussions may or may not bring an end to the fighting but they almost certainly have undermined Maliki – who made repeated declarations that there would be no negotiations and that he would treat as outlaws those who did not turn in their weapons for cash. The blow to his own credibility was worsened by the fact that members of his own party had helped organize the Iran initiative. The delegation was from the United Iraqi Alliance (dominated by the Dawa party and the Supreme Council of Iraq), and the Prime Minister was only informed. It was a political maneuver by us,” said Haider al Abadi, a legislator from Maliki’s Dawa party. “We had evidence (that Muqtada and Iranian-backed militants were fighting security forces) and we sent people urgently…If we had been waiting for one year in Baghdad we wouldn’t have had this result.” The delegation is expected to return to Iraq Monday.

    Maliki’s Generals worked behind his back to cut a deal with al-Sadr. Maliki is toast. He started as a weak and unpopular leader , now he is weaker and has no constituency left except for George Bush. The only thing that keeps him in office is the American military. And it won’t be al-Sadr he has to watch out for. It is his own staff.

  • Alan Stewart Carl

    “so the threat to our national security is completely nonexistent.”

    If you placed “immediate” in front of “threat” you’d be right. But a distabalized Iraq or an Iraq that is nothing more than an Iranian satellite state will dramatically impact our national security in the long term. I think it’s important to consider those longer range scenarios, otherwise we’ll be just as short-sighted in our withdrawal as we were in our invasion.

  • Justin Gardner

    Sure Alan, but your argument fails on two account.

    First, it’s completely unknowable if they’ll be a threat to our homeland security in the future. But we do know what our present policy has created. So it’s just as easy to say that staying in there is the irresponsible path.

    Second, Al-Maliki came out of this with egg on his face, and our helping him has emboldened al-Sadr even more to say that al-Maliki is a puppet. So this move appears to have strengthened Iran’s hand in Iraq, not weakened it.

    On another note, do we really think Iran is going to develop nuclear weapons, get it to al Qaeda and set it off in America? Or even Israel? For some reason we seem to completely ignore the realities of self preservation and think that an entire country will essentially build their foreign policy upon the logic of what amounts to being a suicide bomber. Iran knows full well that if an event like that does happen, Iran as a country no longer exists. They’re gone. We will bomb them back into the stone age. Does it make ANY sense for them to do that? But even before that happens, we have numerous options to make sure they don’t get the materials to build a bomb.

    I’m sorry Alan, but it just doesn’t add up. And I think it’s incredibly irresponsible for our government to continue to waste billions and lives on what amounts to fear-based policy.

  • Jimmy the Dhimmi

    if an event like that does happen, Iran as a country no longer exists. They’re gone. We will bomb them back into the stone age.

    Do you really believe that? If 20 years from now – when the world has forgotten about Bush – Israel is struck with a WMD attack by terrorists in one of its cities, and Iran condemns the attack, denies responsibility, do you think the world would tolerate a nuclear holocaust wrought upon Iran, and a permanent Israeli occupation from the Nile to Damascus?

    Besides, a nuclear-armed Iran has leverage to wage conventional warfare and increase its support for global terror, without the threat of regime change. Saddam actually said, “I should have acquired nuclear weapons before I invaded Kuwait”

    We aren’t even talking about the generation of genocidal maniacs who are being raised on suicide-jihad propaganda and apocalyptic end-times eschatology. These kids will inherit the reigns of power when they grow up .

    If Iran can be considered such a responsible actor on the nuclear stage, why do you think they are trying to construct a nuclear weapon in the first place?

  • TerenceC

    Trust me Dhimmi – no one will forget about Bush 20 years from now. Has anyone forgotten about Mussolini? Saddam didn’t need Nuclear weapons – he was just a non military leader. A good military leader wouldn’t have stopped in Kuwait – he would have kept going and stopped in Saudi Arabia – there was no one there to stop him – game over, Saggam changes his name to Nebuchadnezzar II.

    Doomsday scenarios are great to blog about but reality has to come home to roost at some point. The fastest growing 18-30 year old population in the world is Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan – these young people are no more genocidal maniacs then they are here in our country by and large. Mostly they are just kids who want a future….good jobs, decent weed, vacations, coffee with friends, getting laid – normal stuff.

    Iran needs Nuclear power to move their economy into the 21st century so that all these young people can have a future – otherwise there will be real problems. As long as we let that idiot Bush and his cabinet frame the Iran issue as one of the “black cleric bent on our destruction” the clowns win – the billionaires win again – the idiots and philistines pull one out once more. Regular people that just want to make it through the day, feed their families, weed their gardens, garden their weed, walk their dogs – are pitted against eachother because we let our leaders make those decisions……..never conscious of the fact they couldn’t care less – they are in those positions for their own enrichment – they’re politicians they hate people like you and me.

  • Jimmy the Dhimmi

    Well, it looks as if there might be a total victory for the Iraqi government after all. Sadr says he will disband the militia if the clerics want him to, and the parliament is about to overwhelmingly pass a law that prevents any candidate from running for political office if they operate a militia. Its a push to make all armed security forces would have to be under the control of the democratically elected government.

    That’s strike 2 for the mainstream media regarding the Basra issue. God Dammit, when is Iraq going to fall into chaos again!? When are American forces going to finally be defeated?! I’m looking forward to it!