Why escalation won't work
As they hung Saddam, every man in that room was a Mahdi Army member.
Think about that.
When the state of Iraq decided to execute Saddam, the people who did it was the Mahdi Army.
Maliki rushed the execution on the orders of Sadr, and Sadr's people made sure the job was done.
Now, what exactly are US troops going to do? Secure Iraq from the militias?
Hello, the militias seem to be the state now.
The reason Bush dropped training is simple. We would be training the Mahdi Army.
Let's go over the last month quickly.
Early in December, Hakim and his Kurd and Sunni counterparts met with George Bush in Washington. There was even a release of Sadr's version of Arabic ebonics. People were telling reporters that he needed to basically disappear.
The plan was that Hakim and others would force Maliki from office and then seek to eliminate Sadr.
A stupid plan, given the rapid expansion of the Mahdi Army, from 10 to 60K in under a year, and who can tell what the real numbers are, but one which was gaining steam.
Sadr began manuvering, but more importantly, it became clear that the Mahdi Army had won the support of the Iraqi Shias. Even in areas which had supported Sistani and Hakim, it was the Mahdi Army which protected them. Sadr had built loyalty among people who had originally opposed him.
People were astonished that Hakim was going to try and run things after dealing with the Americans. One man said that he would have to seek Sadr's forgiveness, which was unlikely.
Finally, Sistani said he would not support a deal which did not protect the Shia majority. Which chopped the legs out from Hakim like an axe.
So we get to execution day.
What better way to show your new power than to bum rush the execution and make sure everyone knows you did it.
While the official film was bland, the cellphone video had the sound of the Mahdi Army cursing Saddam. No Kurds, no Sunnis, this was a show by the Mahdi Army, and the Mahdi Army alone.
And the "government" went along because it answers to the Sadrists.
So what are we supposed to do? Send more men to protect the government, which is now run in effect, by the Sadrists? Who we want to attack to eliminiate his power.
The Sadrists are not going away. We cannot attack them and expect to win or even keep the support of the government if we do.
So the point is?
posted by Steve @ 1:06:00 AM