The recent attempt by Nouri al-Maliki to take on Moqtada al-Sadr has demonstrated two points; first, Maliki has no real powerbase without US support, and secondly, even with US support, al-Sadr has the ability to take on the Iraqi puppet government and the US in a guerrilla war with recruits joining any future insurgency that al-Sadr leads actually coming from the US-trained Iraqi police and army while others simply refuse to fight against the insurgents. One wonders how many Iraq government soldiers and police would have been willing to die for the American cause had push really come to shove, especially considering that most Iraqi army soldiers and police are only there because there is no other work and being part of the Iraqi puppet government forces provides a living as well as an opportunity to join in the insurgency against the US when the appropriate moment arrives.
Naturally, the neocon spin on recent events has been fairly predictable with one of their most prolific propagandists, Frederick Kagan, writing in the neocon comic, the Weekly Standard, on Wednesday that, “The Sadrists and Special Groups failed to set Iraq alight despite their efforts--Iraqi forces kept the Five Cities area (Najaf, Karbala, Hillah, Diwaniyah, and Kut) under control with very little Coalition assistance; Iraqi and Coalition forces kept Baghdad under control.“
This is the sort of complete nonsense and plain lies that one has come to expect from the neocons whenever things don’t go their way. It hasn’t occurred to the neocons that al-Sadr was merely testing the waters. Contrary to Kagan’s assertion that the Iraqi forces had everything under control, they were actually rapidly losing control to the point where they had to call in US and British airpower and, at the same time as losing control, were also losing men to al-Sadr’s Mahdi army.
The Mahdi army leader has proved that he can take on the US in a guerrilla war but it is clear that this will only happen if the US attacks Iran. Iran does not wish to invite the US to attack them and, for this reason, have asked al-Sadr to put a stop to the fighting and have negotiated a settlement with al-Maliki to not arrest al-Sadr’s Mahdi army militiamen.
However, it seems this may be only a temporary truce as al-Sadr prepares for a renewed showdown with the US and Iraq government.
But the big issue is not so much al-Sadr’s ability to take on the US and the Iraqi puppet government but the support al-Sadr is clearly receiving from Iran whose influence on Iraqi affairs is so obviously beginning to acutely annoy the Americans. As well as being able to demonstrate that they have the ability to actually stop and start major fighting in Iraq, they are also supplying increasingly both arms and training to Iraqi Shiite militias of both factions within the Iraqi Shiite grouping, al-Sadr and the Mahdi militia and al-Hakim leader of the al-Badr militia who, while still having their differences, have called a truce with each other in order to confront their common enemy, the US.
The question now is; has Iran’s influence in Iraq become intolerable for the US? For years the US and Israel have been accusing Iran of building a nuclear weapon, or at least having a nuclear weapons plan. This has been used as propaganda to get western public opinion to support an attack on Iran that would, they hope, lead to regime change. Unfortunately for the warmongers in the US administration and Israel, the world doesn’t seem to be biting – especially after all the lies they told in order to get the world to support a war against Iraq and especially since the IAEA, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, has been unable to find any evidence to support Israeli and US claims about Irans nuclear weapons.
While Israel wanted the US to attack Iran so that Israel could then deal with Hizbollah and Hamas, the US was hesitant to be seen attacking Iran just because Israel wanted them to, something they had already been accused of when attacking Iraq. But now that Iran is clearly wielding so much influence in Iraq which is in direct conflict with US interests there, it may well be that the US now feels free to attack Iran in order to effect regime change while at the same time avoiding being accused of doing Israel’s bidding. It is no coincidence that anti-Iranian propaganda in the Israeli press seems to have dropped off a little of late as the emphasis on Iran moves from its influence on Hamas and Hizbollah which affects Israel, to Iran’s influence on Iraq which affects the US.
It seems the final confrontation may be closer than we realise if the US insist that Iran’s influence in Iraq is no longer tolerable.