Thursday, November 28, 2013


Moqtada al-Sadr is a Shi'ite cleric and a movement leader.  When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, he was from a prominent family but had no national stature of his own.  He became a national figure by opposing the US invasion and occupation (as he still does) and by the US response to him which elevated him.

Maybe counter-insurgency isn't the way to go?

When not killing those who oppose the occupation, counter-insurgency is about demonizing people so the native population will be scared to be associated with the person.

The US government demonized Moqtada.  Paul Bremer kicked things off but the entire US government demonized.  Did so when Colin Powell was Secretary of State, did so when Condi Rice became Secretary of State.

"Radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr" was the name he was given.

But all this demonization didn't work.

Counter-insurgency rarely does.  The US Army grasped that after Vietnam.  It's why they walked away from it.  It may have come back in The Dirty Wars of the Reagan era, but it could only become official policy if some 'caring' lefty intellectuals (whores for war) had pimped it -- Samantha Power, Sarah Sewall and other academic thugs who couldn't pass a basic psych eval.

The US arranged an arrest warrant for Moqtada.  They weren't serious about his supposed crime, they never executed the warrant.  They used it as a threat.  As did Iraq's failed prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.

So Moqtada left Iraq for Iran -- stating he was doing so for further religious study.

And then came 2008, where the blood lust of the US government and Nouri combined.  Why was Basra attacked?  And Sadr City to a lesser extent?

Some like to lie and say it was because of the 'civil war' (ethnic cleansing).

That was not what it was about.  It had already wound down (with a ton of people dead and a ton fleeing their homes).

For Nouri, it was about attacking the followers of Moqtada and that's really all is was for the US as well.  The false claim by the US government was that the attack was about Shi'ite militias and the government of Nouri showing strength (deaths for public relations).  But that's ridiculous.  The League of Rigtheous -- a Shi'ite militias -- had already killed American troops and kidnapped fiver British citizens (who were still being held).  If there was a militia the US had an interest in going after, it was that group.

(Instead, Barack Obama would shamefully make a deal with the League of Righteous in 2009 -- releasing their ringleaders from US custody so that the League would release British corpses and one living British citizen.)

As we noted in 2008, the sloppy operation and the US government remarks -- specifically Condi Rice at that point -- took Moqtada's waning powe and turned him into a legend.

Moqtada's disappearance to Iran weakened him.  We said that here.  We noted it before the attack.  Reading the press today, they can finally, in 2013, start to note that Moqtada's support has splintered.  They notice it when the splintering is insignificant.

Nouri attacking Iraqis, terrorizing them, with the US at his side?

Moqtada opposing that?

It was a natural winner for Moqtada.

/And then what happened?

A few years later, he returned to Iraq.

There were skirmishes within his bloc, he'd be gone for awhile, lieutenants had come to see themselves as leaders.  Some left the Sadr movement, not a large number, and many who left returned because Moqtada, as created by the US attacks, was the leader.

All those attacks on Moqtada?  They were like pressure on coal, a diamond was formed.

Moqtada's untouchable right now.

He has his followers, he also has respect outside of his bloc -- some of that respect includes Kurds and Sunnis.

He is the national figure.  Nouri is the installed US puppet (installed in 2006 by Bully Boy Bush, kept in 2010 by Barack despite the fact that Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya won the 2010 elections).

Nouri's not admired, he's not respected.

Moqtada's return, as we've noted repeatedly, has demonstrated a more mature Moqtada, one who calls for national unity repeatedly, one who speaks of one Iraq, one who calls out attacks.

In 2010, Barack ordered the US-brokered Erbil Agreement to give Nouri a second term (since the voters had refused to do so).  For Nouri to get what he wanted -- after his 8 month tantrum when he refused to step down and brought the government of Iraq to a standstill -- the contract went around the Constitution.

Nouri is prime minister because of it.  If you use your brain, something the White House hopes you never do, you immediately realize no one is going to give a loser the prime minister post for nothing.  The contract worked both ways.  Nouri would get what he wanted only in exchange for giving the various political blocs what they wanted.

So, for example, the Kurds wanted Article 140 of the Constitution implemented.  We've stated before that was the dumbest thing in the world.

If you wanted to know the fate of The Erbil Agreement, you just had to look to that demand.

Nouri took an oath to the Iraqi Constitution in 2006.  The Constitution?  That's where Article 140 is and it required the prime minister to order a census and referendum by the end of 2007 to resolve the disputed oil-rick Kirkuk -- claimed by the Kurdistan Regional Government and by the central government out of Baghdad.

Nouri never did it.

This was supposed by the end of 2007.  In 2010, you want to do a contract with someone who refused to follow the Constitution and you want to put that in there?

Not smart at all.  In fairness to the Kurds, The Erbil Agreement is signed in November 2010 (8 months after the elections) and, in his attempt to fake-ass his way to a second term, Nouri had announced that the census would be in December of 2010.  After he was named to a second term, one of his first moves was to call off the census.

Nouri never honored the promises he made in that contract.  In the summer of 2011, as people were sick of waiting for Nouri to honor his promises and as the country was engulfed in a political crisis (ongoing to this day), the Kurds began publicly demanding that Nouri implement The Erbil Agreement, Ayad Allawi and Iraqiya publicly demanded it and Moqtada al-Sadr joined them in the demand.

He would also work with those groups -- and Ammar al-Hakim (leader of the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq) and others -- in the spring of 2012 on a no-confidence vote in Nouri.  Moqtada would repeatedly state publicly that Nouri could stop the effort at any point by implementing The Erbil Agreement.

He chose not to.  The US government worked overtime pressuring Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to stop the vote.  So after the needed signatures (and then some) were gathered and the petition handed to Jalal, Talabani invented a new rule where he supposedly vetted the signatures.  No, his only role was to formally introduce the petition.  Jalal ran to hide in Germany after doing the US government's bidding.  He'd disgraced himself, he'd disgraced his party (the one that lies in shambles today as Goran has overtaken it).

Jalal did Moqtada a huge favor.  The president of Iraq was shown as ineffectual and as much of a puppet as the prime minister.  Moqtada could only stronger by contrast.

As negotiations were beginning in October of 2010, Moqtada dropped his opposition to Nouri's second term as a result of pressure from the Iranian government.  Supposedly, he was told if he dropped his resistance, Iran would throw support to him in the next round so Moqtada would be prime minister.

The next round?  Parliamentary elections are supposed to take place April 30th of the coming year.  That's the next round.

And, at present, Moqtada stands as the most prominent and respected Shi'ite figures in Iraq.

(In the immediate future, it's very unlikely that anyone but a Shi'ite will be prime minister of Iraq.  Shi'ites are the largest grouping and there is resentment over the years when Saddam Hussein was in power and Shi'ites were marginalized in the government and targeted.)

And Patrick Cockburn (Independent) has landed a rare interview with Moqtada:

In the past five years, Mr Sadr has rebuilt his movement as one of the main players in Iraqi politics with a programme that is a mixture of Shia religion, populism and Iraqi nationalism. After a strong showing in the general election in 2010, it became part of the present government, with six seats in the cabinet. But Mr Sadr is highly critical of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s performance during his two terms in office, accusing his administration of being sectarian, corrupt and incompetent.
Speaking of Mr Maliki, with whom his relations are increasingly sour, Mr Sadr said that “maybe he is not the only person responsible for what is happening in Iraq, but he is the person in charge”. Asked if he expected Mr Maliki to continue as Prime Minister, he said: “I expect he is going to run for a third term, but I don’t want him to.”
Mr Sadr said he and other Iraqi leaders had tried to replace him in the past, but Mr Maliki had survived in office because of his support from foreign powers, notably the US and Iran. “What is really surprising is that America and Iran should decide on one person,” he said. “Maliki is strong because he is supported by the United States, Britain and Iran.”
Mr Sadr is particularly critical of the government’s handling of the Sunni minority, which lost power in 2003, implying they had been marginalised and their demands ignored. He thinks that the Iraqi government lost its chance to conciliate Sunni protesters in Iraq who started demonstrating last December, asking for greater civil rights and an end to persecution.
“My personal opinion is that it is too late now to address these [Sunni] demands when the government, which is seen as a Shia government by the demonstrators, failed to meet their demands,” he said. Asked how ordinary Shia, who make up the great majority of the thousand people a month being killed by al-Qa’ida bombs, should react, Mr Sadr said: “They should understand that they are not being attacked by Sunnis. They are being attacked by extremists, they are being attacked by external powers.”

With elections possibly taking place in about five months, Patrick Cockburn's rare interview with Moqtada becomes the most important article on Iraq this week.

Jody Watley's shared some holiday thoughts in "Jody Watley. Thanksgiving and Every Day Gratitude."  In this community, Elaine and Mike just posted:

  • And Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Don't Forget The Turkey" went up this morning.

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