), Andrew Sullivan
and, as always, Belmont Club
provide comprehensive coverage of the Sadr inspired violence in Baghdad.
Here is a quick summary.
Muqtada al-Sadr is a 30 year old Shiite cleric backed by the Iranian government who advocates an Islamic government based on the Iran model. He has a very small following in Iraq; his supporters are estimated to be less than one percent of the population. The Al-Mahdi militia, his private army, is estimated at about 3,000 men. Sadr was known to be a problem since the beginning of the liberation, but he was given the chance to show he could work within the rules of the newly forming government. He gave sermons that advocated violence against American soldiers and sanctioned the murder of rival clerics, which has led to an Iraqi judge to issue a warrant for his arrest. This led to the arrest of one of his deputies, the closing of a newspaper owned by Sadr, followed shortly by violent protests in Baghdad neighborhoods which support Sadr.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and other moderate Shiite leaders do not support Sadr and his policies, and have approved the action taken against him. These leaders represent an overwhelming majority of Shiite Iraqis.
This is not a mass insurrection, revolt, rebellion, coup, or revolution. Sadr has sorely miscalculated the timing of his violence, as the US military is in the middle of a troop rotation. We will have the maximum number of soldiers available since the invasion of Iraq. Also, Sadr could have had a greater impact had he timed the violence closer to the elections. Instead, he has played his hand early, his militia is now fair game, and the US, with Iraqi assistance, has the resources available to liquidate this problem.
From the “we hate it when we’re right” department. More threats
from Islamist, this time demanding Spain withdraw from both Iraq and Afghanistan. Wasn’t this all about Spain’s involvement in Iraq? That’s what Prime Minister Zapatero claimed, anyway.
“If these demands are not met, we will declare war on you and ... convert your country into an inferno and your blood will flow like rivers,” the letter said.
Isn’t the bombing conducted on 3/11 in Madrid considered an act of war? Not if you’re Spain. Note to al Qaeda: stop trying to declare war, Spain will not come out to play.
On a brighter note, Spain has decided to increase the size of its troop contingent in Afghanistan to show they are committed to fighting terrorism. Nothing like a symbolic gesture to strike fear in the heart of your enemy.
Posted by bill roggio @ 9:15 AM