Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hit the tip jar

Regular readers of The Other Club will know that Saulat al Fursan, or Operation Knight's Assault, wherein Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki cracked down on the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al Sadr has been very successful.

On April 20th, TOC noted that,
Even the New York Times now understands that the Battle of Basra was a military and political victory for the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, that it shows American training of Iraqi forces has been effective, that the Iraqi government is increasingly unified and that these facts are having an effect on external relations.
On May 10th, we noted the McClatchy Newspapers acknowledgment of reality:
In big concession, militia agrees to let Iraqi troops into Sadr City

BAGHDAD — Followers of rebel cleric Muqtada al Sadr agreed late Friday to allow Iraqi security forces to enter all of Baghdad's Sadr City and to arrest anyone found with heavy weapons in a surprising capitulation that seemed likely to be hailed as a major victory for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.

...It also would be a startling turnaround in fortunes for Maliki, who'd been widely criticized for picking a fight with Sadr's forces, first in the southern port city of Basra and then in Sadr City.
Now comes Time magazine. Apparently they did not get the memo. As Time reports that same McClatchy story: Al-Sadr Wins Another Round
The fact that a leading figure in al-Sadr's ranks announced the deal and pointedly rejected the Iraqi government's key demand to disarm suggests that the cleric is still controlling the agenda tactically and politically despite the most serious challenge his power the Iraqi government could muster. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki set out to break the back of the Mahdi Army in March, when he launched an offensive against areas the militia controls in the southern city of Basra.
Why isn't Time clued in? Probably because they don't read Ardolino, Roggio, Totten or Yon. In the real world:

Operations continue in Sadr City
By Bill Roggio

US and Iraqi forces continue to strike at the Mahdi Army in Baghdad despite the agreement reached between the Iraqi government and the Mahdi Army late Friday. Seventeen Mahdi Army fighters were killed in northeastern Baghdad over the past 24 hours.

Nine of the Mahdi Army fighters were killed in Sadr City: four Mahdi fighters were killed by an air weapons team as they planted an explosively formed penetrator roadside bomb; three were killed as they attacked the barrier emplacement teams along Qods Street; and two were killed as they fired rockets. Five more Mahdi Army fighters were killed by air weapons teams in New Baghdad as they grouped for an attack, and three more were killed as they conducted attacks in Adhamiyah.

The cease-fire signed yesterday between the Sadrist movement, which runs the Mahdi Army, and the government of Iraq will not hinder the building of the concrete barrier or operations against the Mahdi Army, US military officials have stated.
In Pictures: Patrolling the Shorja Market with the Sons of Iraq
By Bill Ardolino

Since the relative diminishment of al Qaeda in Iraq, the Al Sadria Sons of Iraq consider the Mahdi Army their main enemy in the district. Support for the Mahdi Army in Rusafa is diminishing as the populace grows tired of the militia’s criminal activity and as the Mahdi operatives clash with government forces. Faris and his men hate the Mahdi Army and consider them on par with al Qaeda.

...The Mahdi Army has taken heavy casualties in Sadr City and the surrounding neighborhoods since the fighting began on March 25. A total of 579 Mahdi Army fighters have been confirmed killed in and around Sadr City since March 25,
It is highly likely that the NYT and McClatchy have been affected by the accuracy and reputation of independent reporters like Ardolino and Roggio. Without them, who knows?

These guys report what they see in Iraq and they do it on their own dime. Help them keep it up.

Bill Ardolino,
Bill Roggio,
Michael Totten and
Michael Yon.

And, BTW, get Yon's book Moment of Truth In Iraq.

Update: 9:38PM Sadrist bloc buckles, agrees to let Iraqi Army in Sadr City

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