The Beginning of the End? August 29, 2007Posted by Sobek in News.
“Anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered a suspension of his Mehdi Army militia for up to six months for restructuring, a senior aide said Wednesday.
“The move follows battles in Karbala and Baghdad between the Mehdi Army and Badr Organization, the armed wing of the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq — hostilities that left more than 50 people dead and scores injured.”
Where I come from, “suspending” your army of crazed fanatics is synonymous with realizing that you’ve just lost. Am I over-reading this?
“‘For the sake of public interest, we have decided to issue the following: Suspend the Mehdi Army, with no exception, for a maximum of six months starting from the date of this release, to restructure it in a way that would preserve its ideological principles,’ al-Araji said.”
Restructure? Is Muqtada al-Sadr really the pointy-haired boss from Dilbert? Getting scores of your insurgents wiped out by the Iraqi Army isn’t restructuring, so much as it is “down-sizing.” Or “right-sizing,” if you want to get optimistic. The bit about this quote that really catches my attention, however, is the bit about ideological principles. Mookie’s ideology has two basic foundations: (1) he wants to be the boss, and (2) Islam will inevitably triumph over the West. I think the mounting evidence that the surge is working fundamentally strikes at both of these principles, because (a) Mookie doesn’t get to be the boss if the Americans go into Sadr City weapons free, and (b) radical Islam is obviously not triumphing when the Americans are simultaneously destroying the insurgents and quieting Iraq (most noticeably in Anbar and the more unruly parts of Baghdad).
I’m trying to be pessimistic, here, as is my default position when reading about the Middle East, but there’s just too much about this story which suggests cause for hope:
“In response, Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman, said, ‘We have always said we welcome those who want to participate positively in the future of Iraq.'”
At a minimum, it looks like Garver interprets al-Sadr’s statement the same way I do — a concession of defeat. In addition, allowing al-Sadr to “participate positively” in the future of Iraq is a brilliant move — if nothing else, then even the appearance that he is cooperating with the Americans on a temporary basis co-opts him and makes him look like a Western stooge. Any savvy would-be successor can easily leverage that into a coup, which means in-fighting among the insurgents, which means red on red violence.