Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Military Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



Does The Surge Needs Sadr

Of these, by far the most important, in terms of its prestige and the support it enjoys from neighboring Iran is Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. Although Sadr is extremely anti-American, like other Shiite politicians he realizes that currently the U.S. forces in Iraq are committed to wiping out his main long-term enemies, the Sunni Islamist forces. Therefore he has remained on the sidelines in the current struggle in Baghdad. This has given U.S. forces the chance to cooperate in limited but effective ways with various Shiite militias.
by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington DC (SPX) Mar 13, 2007
Tactically, the new U.S. surge policy in Iraq centered in Baghdad is off to a bad start, yet there remains a chance it can still work. The bad news is that would require retaining good relations with a key Shiite militia force that U.S. policymakers appear determined to alienate.

Sunni insurgent terror attacks in Iraq, especially in Baghdad, continue unabated, despite the dispatch of more than 20,000 additional U.S. troops to the California-sized nation of 28 million people, and despite new U.S. ground commander Gen. David Petraeus' determination to concentrate U.S. military assets in the country to restore control in Baghdad.

Had Petraeus' policy been resolutely applied four, or even three, years ago, it would have had a fighting chance of succeeding, given sufficient American troops. But as we have noted before in these columns, even with the additional forces that have been sent, U.S. troop levels on the ground in Baghdad remain wildly inadequate to restore security to a city of six million people.

The continued onslaught by Sunni insurgents tells the tale. On Sunday alone, at least 47 people were killed by insurgent bomb attacks in Iraq, largely in different neighborhoods of Baghdad. The insurgents targeted Shiite pilgrims returning from holy day pilgrimages.

U.S. military analysts had anticipated several different responses by the insurgents to the new surge strategy. Some of them had predicted that the insurgents would either try and move their main operations to the provinces or lay low and try to out-wait the surge strategy until the limited U.S. forces involved were over-stretched and had to be withdrawn or reduced.

But instead, the insurgents are meeting the challenge of the raised stakes. As UPI's Pentagon correspondent Pamela Hess reported last week while covering U.S. Marine forces securing towns in Iraq's notorious "Triangle of Death" in Anbar province, U.S. military officers now have intelligence that the insurgents, especially al-Qaida in Iraq, are trying to funnel more armaments, guerrillas and suicide bombers into Baghdad rather than less. They are confronting the surge strategy head-on in an effort to break it.

The failure so far of the increased U.S. forces to appreciably reduce the scale of the terror onslaught and levels of casualties being inflicted by the insurgent attacks on innocent civilians suggests this strategy could indeed work. But its success is not yet a foregone conclusion.

For the embattled and still far too few U.S. forces faced with the challenge of pacifying Baghdad can still count on the potential advantage that the British Army skillfully employed in Northern Ireland during the 1980s, and that the Syrian Army long employed to a lesser degree in Lebanon. They can enlist at least some of the sectarian militia forces in the fragmented state on their side. Like the British in Northern Ireland, they can even look for significant military support from the majority community.

In Northern Ireland, this came from militias of the 60 percent majority Protestant-Loyalist community against the nationalist Irish Republican Army operating among the minority Catholic Irish. In Iraq, it involves the support of the most powerful militias of the majority Shiite community who comprise 60 percent of the population of Iraq, compared with only 20 percent for the minority Sunnis.

However this potential support is exercised not through the Iraqi Army and other security forces that Gen. Petraeus played the central role in training on a previous Iraq tour of duty. The Iraqi Army, as we have repeatedly predicted and documented in these columns, was rushed into existence by Washington policymakers far too quickly and remains, despite the best efforts of Petraeus and thousands of dedicated U.S. military professionals, under-performing, inadequate, with miserable morale and entirely unreliable in any significant combat situation unless stiffened by strong U.S. forces.

For the Iraqi Army and other security forces represent an inadequate, phantom government that can only exert any power at all insofar as it relies on the real building blocks of power in Iraq, the militias from its own Shiite community.

Of these, by far the most important, in terms of its prestige and the support it enjoys from neighboring Iran is Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. Although Sadr is extremely anti-American, like other Shiite politicians he realizes that currently the U.S. forces in Iraq are committed to wiping out his main long-term enemies, the Sunni Islamist forces. Therefore he has remained on the sidelines in the current struggle in Baghdad. This has given U.S. forces the chance to cooperate in limited but effective ways with various Shiite militias.

However, if the United States launches major air strikes against the nuclear facilities in neighboring Iran, then Iran's Revolutionary Guards looks certain to use their massive clout with the Mahdi Army, and with other Shiite militias, to get them to cut off cooperation with U.S. forces in Iraq and to attack the Americans instead.

In that eventuality, U.S. forces in Iraq could find themselves in a nightmarish, chaotic situation, fighting different enemies at the same time. They certainly could not count on the loyalty of the Iraqi security forces, which Iraq's own government has admitted have been infiltrated by up to 100,000 men with militia -- mostly Shiite -- links.

U.S. strategies for Iraq and neighboring Iran are therefore chaotically entangled already, and even on a collision course. The U.S. determination to strike preemptively at the Iranian nuclear facilities looks certain to mean many hundreds, or even thousands, of additional American body bags coming home from Iraq and the utter failure of the surge strategy.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Email This Article

Related Links
Iraq: The first technology war of the 21st century

Genome Sequence Shows What Makes Bacteria Dangerous For Troops In Iraq
New Haven CT (SPX) Mar 02, 2007
Researchers at Yale have identified multiple pathogenic "alien islands" in the genome of the A. baumannii, bacteria that has been responsible for new and highly drug-resistant infections in combat troops in the Middle East, according to a report in the March 1 issue of Genes and Development.







  • India Developing News Alliances
  • Growing US Military Concerns For China
  • EU Bickers Over Birthday Card Message
  • The Two Faces Of NATO

  • Missing Iranian General Was Western Spy Says Latest Report
  • The Future Of Russian Missile Forces
  • Iran Shrugs Off Threat Of More UN Sanctions
  • Silver Linings In War Clouds

  • Raytheon To Enhance Patriot Global Capabilities Under Pure Fleet Contract
  • Excalibur Completes Final Testing Clearing Path For Early Fielding
  • New Hellfire-Compatible Guided Rocket Can Defeat Targets In Urban Operations
  • LockMart Unveils New Four-Mode Guidance Ground Launched Precision Strike Missile

  • US Missile Defenses Performed Well In North Korea Crisis Claims Boeing
  • Dialogue Of The Deaf Over ABM Plans
  • US Missile Shield A Threat To Europe Unity Claims Chirac
  • USAF Japan Base Gets New BMD Infomation System

  • Raytheon Team Proposes Single International Standard In ADS-B Pursuit
  • NASA Signs Defense Department Agreement
  • Lockheed Martin And FAA Reach Significant Milestone In Transformation Of Flight Services
  • Can UABC Take Russian Aircraft-Makers Out Of Spin

  • Israeli Air Force Unveils Long-Range Drone
  • New Technology Expands Air Force Combat Capability
  • Phase 2 Testing Completed For Centralized Controller For Unmanned Air And Ground Systems
  • Killerbee UAV Flies At Camp Pendleton

  • Does The Surge Needs Sadr
  • The Iraq Economic War
  • Washington Dodgers
  • The Battle For Haditha

  • South Korea Unveils Underwater Tank
  • Rest Of Media Catches Up To UPI's Reports On Veteran Health Services
  • F-35 Production A Step Closer After Wind Tunnel Test
  • Tests To Reveal Levels Of Depleted Uranium In Army Personnel

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement