The Battle of Najaf

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We should know in a few days how the most important engagement since the initial "thunder runs" through Baghdad pans out. Right now the Marines have won control of the massive cemetery and Fox News reports some 1,000 militants are hold up in the Imam Ali Mosque.

All along the goal of Moqtada al-Sadr has been to get U.S. troops to attack the holy mosque, but U.S. commanders say only Iraqi troops will draw that duty.

Will they be up to the task?

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  1. How many explosives has Sadr stocked in the mosque? If he’s smart and truly wants martyrdom, it’s enough to blow the place sky high. Then have some one (or even himself if he hid out elsewhere and just wants to martyr his 1,000 followers) blame the Americans.

    Will this happen: maybe

    Will it kick off the large scale rebellion he’s been hoping for: that’s the 100 billion dollar question.

  2. If he’s smart and truly wants martyrdom, it’s enough to blow the place sky high.

    If he was smart and truly wanted martyrdom, he’d already be dead. It’s not like it’s *hard* to arrange to die in an attack on United States forces.

  3. I’m not trying to bait any hawks here; really I’m not, but I am curious to find out if al-Sadr’s group, when it was headed by his father obviously, was among the Shia groups (Badr Corps, etc.) that joined the 1991 Shia uprising.

    The internet wasn’t much back then, so there isn’t much available on the net about who did what and when in 1991. Google searches on al-Sadr’s father bring up a lot of Muslim propaganda sites, which just don’t make for good references.

  4. Ken,

    I can’t demonstrate this (to GG’s satisfaction), but I have read that daddy Sadr was not an active supporter of the 1991 uprising. whether he sat on the sidelines or was supportive of Saddam was not clear. There was another al-Sadr who was more popular who opposed Saddam years before 1990. some info here:

    http://www.meib.org/articles/0307_iraqd.htm

    It may be the junior is in a power play with the help of Iran, or he is pissed off with the US for the ‘betrayal’ back then; but that doesn’t ‘excuse’ (from the US perspective) what he is doing now. Obviously we were once ‘pals’ with Stalin, Saddam, Osama, et. al. No need to get sentimental over old relationships when it comes to national interests πŸ™‚

  5. zorel,

    My standard of proof isn’t particularly high.

  6. I might have added “France” to the above list of entities we were ‘pals’ with at one time πŸ™‚

  7. Well this topic is going to be a really hot one in the next few days. If the Ali Mosque is considered so holy, why are these yo-yos profaning it in such a manner? Good idea for American troops not to do the real dirty work for fear of alienating the majority of Shiites who really don’t care for Mookie (who is a stooge of Iran). What I have been curious about is that they brought Sistani to Britain apparently because of health reason (bullshit). They don’t want another dead mullah who is at least reasonable and has the respect and loyalty of vast majority of Shiites.

  8. I might have added “France” to the above list of entities we were ‘pals’ with at one time πŸ™‚

    Comment by: zorel

    Not since DeGual.

  9. FWG,

    His last name of de Gaulle.

    If France is America’s enemy, then I wonder what Iran is. πŸ™‚

  10. As long as Iraqis and not Marines enter the mosque. The finger pointing and blame can be mostly between Iraqis.

    I think the moderate clerics would be happy to be rid of al Sadr and if he was gone could pull a lot of his followers back into the moderate fold. This does not mean they will like us but might be more inclined to tolerate us until after elections are held.

  11. Remember the Alamo comes to mind.

  12. What exactly does “moderate” mean in Iraq? We see these labels applied to these guys, but I have yet to see anyone explain what the difference between a “radical” and a “moderate” in Iraq is.

  13. If France is America’s enemy, then I wonder what Iran is. πŸ™‚

    France isn’t by any means an enemy, but it does take on something of an adversarial role. Someone once noted that France’s foreign policy is mainly geared toward thwarting American power abroad.

    This is not specific to Iraq, or even the Middle East. It’s perfectly natural for one nation which once had a large colonial empire and which retains strong ties to its former protectorates to want to maintain some power on the world stage. France has, since WWII, taken opposing stances to the United States’ on many international issues.

    If France wants power in the world, you can’t blame it for attempting to thwart the U.S. But the U.S. doesn’t have to just sit back and take it, either.

  14. What exactly does “moderate” mean in Iraq? We see these labels applied to these guys, but I have yet to see anyone explain what the difference between a “radical” and a “moderate” in Iraq is.

    Comment by: Gary Gunnels

    The moderates are willing to accept a more secular government. Radicals want an Islamic gov’t like Iran.

  15. Thanks for the link Zorel. Looks like I stepped into an ongoing discussion between you and Gary Gunnels? Whether or not al-Sadr’s people were avenging our abandonment of the uprising in ’91 hadn’t really occurred to me, but that does sound like something Gunnels might argue.

    I do think it would be ironic if we ended up finishing off the remnants of some of Saddam Hussein’s worst enemies. The fear of irony probably shouldn’t drive Iraq policy, of course, and just because a group was against Hussein doesn’t mean they?re our friends, but sometimes in life, you have to stop and smell the ironies.

  16. “The moderates are willing to accept a more secular government.”

    You mean the Baathists and the Communists?

    We are so fucked.

  17. FWG,

    I have seen no evidence of that; indeed, the only difference appears to be that one side is willing to wait out the foreign military presence, and the other is not.

    Ken Schultz,

    What sort of stance would I take? What sort of faux-positions are you inventing for me now? BTW, zorel and I are not having an active discussion on this issue.

  18. In other military news:

    The A-Team Cleared!!!

    http://theonion.com/news/index.php?issue=4032&n=1

  19. It’s heartwarming to see that justice _can_ be served in this country. RIP, Hannibal.

  20. Relax Gary.

    Zorel said he couldn’t demonstrate it to your satisfaction, and you replied that your standard of proof isn’t particularly high, so it read like an ongoing discussion, and I was curious, so I asked

    …it was more of a question, for Pete’s sake.

  21. Ken Schultz,

    No, zorel was referring to a completely different conversation that I and he had been having; in fact, he was trying to be snarky. My reply was in reference to that completely different conversation. Sorry, but I have people jump to conclusions all the time about what position I would “naturally” take. Honestly, I could care less what Sadr’s motivations are; he doesn’t appear to be all that important after all, and will probably be on a slab in the near future.

  22. “Remember the Alamo comes to mind.”

    Or maybe Dog Day Afternoon.

  23. Douglas Fletcher,

    Does Sadr want a sex change operation? Or I guess that would be his chief lieutenant who wants said operation. πŸ™‚

  24. “What exactly does “moderate” mean in Iraq? We see these labels applied to these guys, but I have yet to see anyone explain what the difference between a “radical” and a “moderate” in Iraq is. ”

    The answer is obvious: a moderate is anyone who does not oppose the US and a radical is anyone who opposes the US.

    Al-Sadr is an Iranian stooge when he was living in Iraq during Saddam’s rule (BTW Sadr’s father was killed by Saddam for challenging his authority), While Khoei and Sistani and other religious leaders frequented Tehran during Saddam’s rule are not considered Iranian stooges. Strange logic.

  25. Gary,

    ” … in fact, he was trying to be snarky”

    No! I was trying to “pre-empt” someone from asking me to ‘demonstrate’ whatever I was going to say to Ken (since it was mostly from my general recollection).

    My apologies if that offended you.

  26. holed up, don’t you mean?

  27. I hope we issue the same arms/ammo to the Iraqi forces as the US forces use. We can then claim the Iraqi’s beat the heck out of Sadr militia πŸ™‚

    Even otherwise, the 1000 men holed up inside the mosque (with limited supplies) can’t last too long against a couple of thou Iraqis + about 2,500 US forces with pretty much unlimited supplies. In the end it will come down to who better manages the media & PR.

  28. I hope mr. sadr gets an infection in his wounds and dies a horrible and painful death!

  29. Mr. Gunnels nee bart:

    I’m hoping I suppose that M. Sadr will go down more as ridiculous than heroic.

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