Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
How's that surge working? You know, the tactic that Bush, Grandpa McCain, and right wing trolls assure us is a smashing success?
Pretty good, if you're Iran.
Gene Lyons provides some real, live actual facts that you likely haven't heard, due to obsessive coverage of ridiculous squabbles between candidates, and particularly if you're still able to listen, much less believe serial liars like Fox News, am radio cretins, or dead-ender Republican trolls.
Iran wins again
Maybe it’s too bad that Baghdad isn’t actually a part of the United States, like, say, New Orleans. Bush administration loyalists would be arguing that its make-believe “Green Zone” government had become the ultimate welfare state and needed to be cut loose of its dependency on U.S. dollars and military might lest it remain permanently crippled.
What’s more, they’d be right. Instead, the al-Maliki government’s ill-advised attempt to overthrow its rivals’ control over the Iraqi port city of Basra saw American soldiers enlisted as partisan fighters in what is essentially a domestic quarrel. Why should we care which Iranian-backed Shiite political party prevails there? With one crucial exception, the differences among the three main parties concern Iraqi civil and religious issues of no importance to Americans. How many
Americans should die over whether or not Iraqi women are forced to wear veils?
Don’t look to our own peerless leader for an answer. As usual, President Bush limned the conflict in cartoonish goodguy-vs.-bad-guy terms. He described the fighting in Basra and elsewhere as “a bold decision” by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and predicted “a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq.”
Most Iraqis undoubtedly saw the Basra offensive as a clumsy power play to weaken so-called radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr before scheduled provincial elections. Because it followed Vice President Dick Cheney’s recent visit to Baghdad, al-Maliki’s gambit was assumed to have received his approval. That would be the same “Big Time” Cheney who recently made it clear that American public opinion means nothing to him as he knows he’s right.
One can only imagine how little Iraqi public opinion means to Cheney. The seeming success of Gen. David Petraeus’ “surge” has been due to two factors: the willingness of Sunni tribes west of Baghdad to take U. S. cash and weapons in return for resisting al-Qa’ida, and al-Sadr’s cease-fire declaration in the Shiite south. His Mahdi Army’s temporary truce greatly reduced Iraqi violence.
Some observers also wondered if the secondary purpose of the attack on Basra was to drag nearby Iran into the conflict, justifying the U.S. bombing raids that Cheney and his neo-conservative cabal have long dreamed of. So infatuated was al-Maliki with dreams of martial glory that he personally flew to Basra to mastermind the assault, issuing demands that al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army disband and disarm, first in three days, then 10, then....
Alas, a funny thing happened on the way to Tehran. Even with U.S. air support power and heavy weapons, Iraqi government forces got nowhere against the Mahdi Army. Despite five years of American training, intense street fighting left al-Sadr’s forces unbowed. An Iraqi reporter for The New York Times who made his way into Basra concluded that “[t]here was nowhere the Mahdi either did not control or could not strike at will.”
Militarily, this shouldn’t be a big surprise. Iraq’s army remains essentially a mercenary outfit serving what most regard as a U.S. puppet regime. Al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army shouldn’t be romanticized. It’s full of gangsters, thugs and religious fanatics who have indulged in brutal ethnic murders. But they were also fighting for their very lives and families on their own sacred turf. The concept of Iraq as a nation means little or nothing to them. Clan, tribe and mosque mean everything.
Al-Sadr loyalists also staged uprisings in Kut, Amarah, Nasiriyah and Diwaniya, the capitals of four southern provinces. Iraqi police mutinied. Baghdad’s huge Shiite slums erupted in violence. Rockets began raining down upon the Green Zone, killing two American civilians among others. Hundreds of Iraqis died.
Meanwhile, with al-Maliki off playing at being an Arab Napoleon, members of his own Dawa Party reportedly undertook a secret trip to the Iranian holy city of Qom, headquarters of the Shiite ayatollahs who run the country. There they met with Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, recently designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. Senate (with Hillary Clinton and John McCain’s support). With Suleimani’s help, they brokered a truce.
Speaking from an unknown location, al-Sadr ordered his Mahdi Army to stand down contingent upon a cessation of government attacks. There would be no disarmament. So far the cease-fire appears to be holding. Al-Sadr also demanded a general amnesty and a release of Sadrist prisoners not convicted of crimes. Should the October provincial elections come off, it’s assumed his party will be a big winner. To
Iraqis, the humiliation of al-Maliki and the Americans could hardly be more complete. Once again, the inadvertent beneficiary of Bush administration policy turns out to be Iran. The only possible good news is that what makes al-Sadr a “radical cleric” in U. S. journalistic shorthand, besides his populist attacks on Iraq’s corrupt ruling class, is that he’s also a fierce nationalist who demands that American occupiers go home.