Moqtada al-Sadr Starts to Fight
Moqtada al-Sadr has called upon his followers to engage in civil resistance. In reality, his Iranian masters have called out their troops in an effort to demonstrate that the Iraqi government cannot secure its own country, that the Coalition – the United States – is merely propping up a puppet government. This is Iraq’s Tet Offensive.
Remember Tet. We wiped out the Viet Cong entirely and set the North Vietnamese back a year or more on their plans for conquest. Yet, due to the mood of the media, we were told that we lost those battles, that the entire war was lost. It may become a similar sentiment for today’s media in the next few weeks.
The situation on the ground is this: Sadr’s people control much of eastern Baghdad and have moved south into the Shia heartland, Kut, Hillah and Basra. These areas are not traditionally a place where he has influence. Other Shia leaders have been influential in the south.
The Mahdi Army is armed with rifles, grenades, rockets and IED’s, much of Iranian origin. The vast majority of Sadr’s followers are cannon fodder, with little or no training. A cadre has received training, in Iran, or in Iraq by Iranians or Iraqis trained in Iran. It is likely that some of them are also deserters from the Iraqi security forces or were kicked out of those forces.
Basra is the flash point. The city was under nominal Iraqi national control. In fact, the city was run by a number of criminal gangs and several militias. Many of those criminal elements were part of or aligned with the Mahdi Army.
Iran would like to control the south. It is oil rich, and Iran is running out of its own supplies. In addition, it would cut an old enemy, Iraq, off from its only link to the sea and sea borne commerce.
North of Basra, in Kut and Hillah, the Mahdi Army is going to have some difficulty. Both the Iraqi Army and the other Shia militias will be opposing them and the fight should be fairly short and sweet. Some of the fighting may not be with the Mahdi Army since this is also the area where a doomsday cult called the Soldiers of Heaven has rebelled twice in the last two years, suffering incredible losses but still being a threat.
In Basra itself, the fighting will be house to house. The Iraqi Army will win, but Basra will be their battle of Fallujah. At this point the British have only provided air support but that may change. Logistics and medical support would be logical additions to the support package. British troops may not be involved in the fighting, though it would not surprise me to see them provide indirect fire from artillery.
Baghdad is another matter. Iraqi troops will be taking the lead here but Americans will be involved in the battles. Our civil affairs units have had six months and more to work their magic and I would suspect that Sadr’s support has wained a bit.
Sadr is not in Iraq. The last information I saw said that he was engaged in religious studies in Iran. Without Sadr on the scene, the willingness of the entire Mahdi Army to fight is certainly in doubt.
Here are the reports from Multi National Force â€“ Iraq:
March 24: 5 IED emplacers killed by an airstrike in Basra
March 25: US soldier killed by hostile fire in Baghdad
March 25: Attacks from Sadr City strike Baghdad
March 25: ISF, Coalition forces reinforce three checkpoints
The press have many more reports, but with little detail as yet. This will be the first piece in a series as I cover the Sadr Revolt so please check back for more information as it becomes available.
Table of contents for Sadr Revolt 2008
- Moqtada al-Sadr Starts to Fight
- Sadr Revolt 3-26-2008 am
- Sadr’s Revolt 3-27-2008
- 67 Terrorists Killed
- Iran Backing Sadr Revolt in Iraq
- Sadr Revolt 3-28-2008 early am
- Sadr Revolt 3-28-2008 pm
- Media Mavens Mistake Military Moves
- Sadr Revolt 3-30-2008 am
- Sadr Orders Halt to Revolt
- Iraqi Special Operations Forces kill 14 criminals in Basra
- Kadhamiyah Cleans Up After Sadr Fight
- Brits in Basra – Crack Shots
- Iraqi Army seizes caches in mosque, hospital
- MND-SE holds memorial for fallen Marine
- Iraqis Continue Basra Cleanup
- Iraqis Continue Sadr City Cleanup
- Basra Update June 7 2008
- Chief Warrant Officer Ronald C. Ivy
This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 25th, 2008 at 11:54 pm and is filed under War on Terror, Iraq, War on Terror. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.