Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Operation Knight's Assault - continuing success

Today's round up of what's been happening in Iraq since Operation Knight's Assault began 2 weeks ago.

This is recommended reading for Frank Rich, George Soros, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, all members of CodePink and MoveOn.org, and anyone with a registration at DailyKos. Those not named know who you are.

No, Sadr did not win
Austin Bay
…The Iraqis planned the operation and carried it out on their own, without consulting Petraeus and Crocker. Good deal. In the long run that plays well politically in Iraq and it corners Sadr — the US did not tell Maliki to go after Sadr. If the US had, Sadr could tout that “prior approval,” maintaining that Maliki is a puppet, etc. Instead, you have an elected democratic prime minister who happens to be a Shia ordering his nation’s troops to strike a Shia gangster.

…So what about last week’s instant narrative of doom? Is anyone besides me tired of it? The quick damnation of PM Maliki and the Iraqi Army’s efforts last week reveals an immense ignorance of warfare, one still rampant despite six-plus years of alleged experience; it displays not simply hasty, herd-mentality judgmentalism, but demonstrates in trump cards the sensationalist, fear-leveraging slant of most media coverage. Scare’em into reading the screed seems to be the herd-media’s order of business, and if that doesn’t work, affect deep moral outrage.
Bad to Worse for Moqtada Sadr?
Rich Lowry
...On the political front, Sadr now finds himself completely isolated. Key leaders of his own movement are now urging him to accept the Maliki government’s demands to disband the militia entirely.

Saturday, Iraq’s president and two vice-presidents, along with every other major political group in Iraq (except the Sadrists) joined in the condemnation of Sadr’s militia, and endorsed Prime Minister Maliki’s demand that the militia disarm. Sadr’s militia is now virtually the only militia left in Iraq that still maintains an outlaw posture, the only one that still challenges the authority of the Iraqi Security Forces or the Coalition. (Other major militias have disbanded, transforming into political organizations and joining — or becoming — legitimate security forces, which explains why you never hear about any other militia in the news.)

...Add to this the fact that the Iraqi Government’s largest independent military operation to date was against the one group in Iraq that the Sunnis fear the most, and the makings of a historic political reconciliation are obvious.

The news gets better still. Reacting to an effort to pass legislation (expected within days) that would disqualify any political party with ties to a militia from participating in elections, one of the Sadrists’ most prominent MPs in the parliament conceded that Sadr may have no choice but to disband the militia:
"We, the Sadrists, are in a predicament," lawmaker Hassan al-Rubaie said Sunday. "Even the blocs that had in the past supported us are now against us and we cannot stop them from taking action against us in parliament."
...Al-Rubaie went on to say, "our political isolation was very clear and real during the meeting.”

More recently, BBC reports that the delegations to negotiate the militia’s surrender are on their way:

An MP for the Sadr bloc, Liqaa Aal Yassin, told the BBC Arabic service that two delegations would be sent - to Grand Ayatollah Sistani in Najaf and Grand Ayatollah Kazem al-Husseini al-Haeri in Iran - to discuss the possible disbanding of the Mehdi Army.
Hundreds flee fight in Shiite stronghold
By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer

The headline should have been, "Sadr Damaged Politically," but this isn't bad for the AP.

…With the crisis showing no sign of abating, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki raised the stakes.

The Shiite prime minister told CNN on Sunday that al-Sadr and his followers would not be allowed to participate in politics or run in provincial elections this fall "unless they end the Mahdi Army."

Al-Maliki's statement followed a weekend declaration by top Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish leaders to support legislation banning any party that maintained a militia.
Facing broad political opposition, key al-Sadr aides went on the defensive Monday, insisting that banning them from politics would be unconstitutional. They proposed talks to resolve the standoff.

"We are calling for dialogue as a way to solve problems among Iraqi groups," al-Sadr aide Salah al-Obeidi told AP Television News in the holy city of Najaf. "Al-Sadr's office affirms that the door is open to reach an understanding regarding these problems."
For continuing updates I recommend visiting IraqStatusReport.com, which has been added to the blogroll.

Finally, I said yesterday that "I can hardly wait for Hillary to repeat the 'willing suspension of disbelief' insult" to General Petraeus in today's hearings. This did not happen, but Senator Roger F. Wicker (R- MS), didn't let the opportunity pass entirely unseized:

It's been pointed out by previous questioners the dramatic difference that has occurred in Iraq since the surge began and since you last made your presentation to the Congress.

There's no question that the situation is better now, it's better than when the surge began and it's better than in September. It would take a major suspension of disbelief to conclude otherwise...
Best line of the day.

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