Among the unplanned and unintended consequences of the incompetent prosecution of the war in Iraq by this administration – and they are legion – is the elevation of Moqtada al-Sadr from a low-level Baghdad cleric and neighborhood thug, to a major player in Iraqi politics, an actor on the world stage, and potential future leader of Iraq. Bush may not like al-Sadr, but no one has had more to do with the meteoric rise in popularity and power of Moqtada al-Sadr than George W. Bush and his administration.
As this post is being written, we are escalating our military intervention in an internal Iraqi political struggle between Maliki and al-Sadr. Moreover, we chose to intervene on the side of the unpopular Shiite Prime Minister Nouri Maliki against the very popular Shiite Moqtada al-Sadr, who helped put Maliki in power. And Maliki is failing.
When all is said and done, Nouri Maliki can only remain Prime Minister and stay in power with the political support of Moqtada al-Sadr -or- by using active US military support to quash and intimidate al-Sadr’s political base. By attacking al-Sadr, Maliki has abandoned the political path, and is attempting to preempt an unfavorable electoral result with military force. He made this decision immediately after a visit by Dick Cheney where he was presumably given the green light and the assurance that we will back him in this effort. So now the Bush administration has the United States taking sides in a internal Iraq political struggle, and putting us on the side of an unpopular leader attempting to subvert the popular will with military force.
Americans in general and the Bush administration specifically continue to underestimate Moqtada al-Sadr and the depth of his popular support in Iraq. No one should be surprised that Maliki (who did not even live in Iraq for 23 years before the fall of Saddam), has far less popular support than a nationalist Shiiite majority firebrand who both fought Hussein and now rails against the “foreign occupiers” of his country (that would be us). No one should be surprised that Maliki’s Iraq Army forces will switch sides when ordered to confront the Mahdi Army. We learned from Michael Totten last August that the Mahdi Army had infiltrated the Iraqi Army.
While we watch this disaster unfold, it is worth looking back at how the Bush administration helped provide al-Sadr with such an extraordinary career advancement opportunity. Let us count the ways:
1) Bush administration frees Moqtada al-Sadr from the oppression of Saddam Hussein.
Let us be clear. We in the US donâ€™t like the Mahdi Army, we don’t like what they stand for, we don’t like their extreme beliefs, and we particularly donâ€™t like their thuggish leader Moqtada Al-Sadr. However, it is important to keep these facts in mind: They are not Al Queda and they are not Baathists and they are not Sadaamites. They are not the people we went into Iraq to fight. In fact, they are the very Iraqiâ€™s, the exact oppressed religious sect that we went into Iraq to offer the gift of democracy at the point of a gun. After we did not find WMD’s, imposing a democracy inspiring “regime change” became the rationale for the Iraq misadventure. So we succeeded. When the statue of Saddam Hussein was torn down in 2003, it was in the in the middle of what is now known as “Sadr City.” It was the supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr that we cheered dragging Hussein’s head through the streets. When Saddam’s portraits and statuary were ripped down during the fall of Baghdad, it was posters of al-Sadr that immediately went up in their place.
This post continued at Divided We Stand United We Fall
– A preview of additional headings and links on how Bush “made” al-Sadr – amplified at the the full post:
The reason why this war never ends, is that the Bush/Cheney administration specifically and the American people generally do not want to admit that the face of “majority rule”, and “regime change” and “victory” in Iraq is the face of Moqtada al-Sadr.