So-called militia fighters, who in reality are little more than organized criminal gangs hiding behind a religious facade, have been a wild card in the efforts to build a new and better Iraq since Saddam Hussein's army fell in 2003.
The best known, but not necessarily the worst, of the bunch is the Mahdi Army run by a renegade self-anointed cleric known as Muqtada Al Sadr. To give you an idea of his street credibility, there is a slum in Baghdad named after him. Big Whoop!
Last week the elected government of Iraq ordered a crackdown on Mookie's army, which has basically been running the show in Basra, and walking around Baghdad scowling and threatening anyone who even dares to hope for peace and prosperity. These are Islamo-fascists, people. They don't believe in peace and prosperity for anyone except them and only under their warped view of their religion!
In response to the crackdown several days of fighting erupted in which the fledgling Iraqi Army bore the brunt, although they did call in US air strikes on occasion and are getting some help from our special ops people. Mookie was posturing all through this fighting, making demands and threatening to hold his breath until he turns blue if the US and Iraq's legitimate government don't take him seriously.
Sunday, today, Mookie issued a call for a truce, attaching all kinds of conditions to his Oh, so generous offer, like releasing all of his loyal hoods who have been captured in the fighting, and, lest we forget, the US has to get the hell out of Iraq!
Did I mention that this self-absorbed poser is hiding in Iran, which is funding and arming his troops? He is, Iran is, and they can all go to hell.
The biggest fear I have at this point is that our diplomats and bureaucrats once again will interfere with our military people and pressure the Iraqi government to accept this truce offer. This guy has shown repeatedly that he comes out from under his sludge pile when he thinks he has power, and then scurries away like a craven coward when the going gets tough.
If Mookie is calling for a truce he is getting his ass kicked, his army is getting the crap beat out of it and the last thing we should do now is acquiesce to his demands. What we should do is press the issue even harder, kill even more of this guy's criminals, lock up the rest, and do everything in our power to help the Iraqi army get its hands on him.
Bring this jerk to justice, let him follow Saddam to the promised land ;-) and make the point to his minions that the same fate awaits them if they continue their illegal activities. That is how you bring peace to Iraq, not by negotiating with a fake cleric because you are concerned about people's feelings.
People will let you know exactly how they feel the second they don't have to worry about a gun barrel pointed at their heads.
Remember, it was only last August that this cretin called off all actions against the US, and headed out to Iran in fear for his life. Why? Because we started the surge, his troops got smacked big time, and he had nothing left with which to fight.
So he offered a cease fire, until he rebuilt and rearmed. This time it wasn't the US that kicked his ass, it was the Iraqi Army and it only took three days, minor setbacks and desertions not withstanding.
As I wrote last August, "Al Sadr is the guy whose terrorists shot at our forces from inside a mosque in 2003 as they were moving toward Baghdad to topple Saddam Hussein. Due to horrendously uninformed political interference, Al Sadr was allowed to live, build an army of terrorists from hundreds to more than ten thousand, and shoot at and bomb our forces with impunity ever since.
Only when our leadership finally got serious about putting the hammer down on internal terrorists in Iraq did Al Sadr's fortunes begin a slow reversal. He fled to Iran where his partner in terrorism President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave him shelter, sanctuary, communications abilities, arms, and support, just like Saddam Hussein did for Abu Al Zarqawi, the number two guy in Al Qaeda, before we invaded Iraq.
Al Sadr made a brief foray back into the country a few months ago in an effort to rally his followers who already were getting slammed during the buildup to the Surge, the offensive now ongoing throughout Iraq. When the Surge actually kicked off in June, one of the first areas to benefit from the gloves coming off was the Sadr City slum area of Baghdad where Al Sadr's terrorists had freely roamed ever since our politicians had allowed Iraqi politicians to declare it off limits to American military efforts.
That little scenario should tell us all we need to know about political considerations interfering with military operations, and about Al Sadr. The political world should never, ever, interfere with the methodology of military operations, except to authorize them at the outset, give a clear definition of the end goal, and set reasonable rules of behavior for our forces, which are already contained in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and the Geneva Conventions.
People like Al Sadr never really surrender. They will appear to surrender if they are physically bashed almost to death, are within seconds of meeting their maker, have no other recourse, and know in their hearts and minds that the entity which administered their bashing will without hesitation finish the job.
Then they will appear to surrender. Then they will live, curse the existence of the force that defeated them, and plan in every waking moment, as well as in their dreams, how to exact their revenge.
That is what Al Sadr is doing now. He hasn't called a cease fire because he has seen the light and now wants to cooperate.
His forces have been taking a walloping from US forces, and quite likely are tremendously weakened due to deaths, capture and desertions. He is waving the white flag to give himself and his Iranian allies time to find some new recruits, rebuild his devastated forces, and reconsider his political options without the pressure of getting shot.
His attempts to initiate a temporary truce have nothing whatsoever to do with wanting to get along and be part of a new progressive Iraqi government. He is buying time, and plotting.
He is what he is and nothing can change that. Snakes do not evolve into koala bears, sharks don't morph into guppies, and street fighting terrorists don't suddenly become benign ambassadors of peace and goodwill.
The worst possible thing our troops and our politicians can do is to give credence to his cease fire, back off the military efforts against his terrorist forces, and give him and Ahmadinejad time to figure how to get out of the mess they are in thanks to the Surge.
I wrote all this last year, and here we are once again dealing with this guy and his ever shrinking "army." Remember the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result!?
How about this time we take the sane course and crush this crumb before any more or our troops or Iraqi troops are killed or wounded by his thugs. Why the hell are we negotiating with a self-proclaimed Messiah who doesn't even have real support in his own country or his own religion?
Don't make me come in here in six months and write this same column all over again! If Al Sadr goes down to defeat, and does it right now, in six months we will be way, way down the road to the outcome every sane person wants in Iraq.
Otherwise, we'll be back here and the American people will have all the reason in the world to be questioning what we have been doing, how and why in Iraq!
Sunday, March 30, 2008