Apr 27 2008
Evidence must be mounting that Iranians are involved with the Madhi Army in a proxy war within Iraq because the tension is ratcheting up with no one backing down. The US, clearly fed up with Iranian weapons and trained fighters attacking American and Iraqi forces, apparently has put Tehran on notice of that a military response is in the works – a notice Tehran will probably not heed:
America’s top military officer has ratcheted up the pressure on Iran by issuing an unusual public warning that the Pentagon is planning for â€œpotential military courses of actionâ€.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, blamed the Iranian government and Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard for its â€œincreasingly lethal and malign influenceâ€ in Iraq. He said conflict with Iran would be â€œextremely stressingâ€ for Americaâ€™s overstretched forces, but added: â€œIt would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability.â€
Mullen said he was increasingly concerned about Iranâ€™s growing involvement in supplying munitions and training to rebel Shiâ€™ite militias and â€œkilling American and coalition soldiers in Iraqâ€.
I have made this point before, but it bears repeating. Iran can be bombed into oblivion and there is no need for our forces to occupy Iran or fund any rebuilding for their acts of war on the US and our ally Iraq. Iraq needed to be rebuilt because it was our decision to liberate it from Saddam Hussein. But self defense is a different matter than preemptive attacks. Iran has declared war on the US before, and now it has been caught red handed shipping weapons hot off the production line into Iraq in about the same time that we can ship new weapons from the US to Iraq. These are not smuggled weapons – they are being shipped as rapidly as possible.
As I suspected there is more evidence coming to the fore as US and Iraq forces roll up the Mahdi thugs. It seems Iraq has papers and maybe even some Iranians themselves as evidence of the Persian proxy war on its Arab neighbor:
Iraqi army spokesman Major General Qasim Atta told a news conference in Baghdad that 712 rockets and mortars had been fired in Baghdad in recent weeks, and claimed most of them were Iranian-made.
“We have found many Iranian-made weapons — Katyusha and Grad rockets, and smart roadside bombs and smart bombs. We have also seized some documents and identified some people,” Atta said, without elaborating.
US military spokesman Rear Admiral Patrick Driscoll said there was little doubt that most of those firing rockets in Sadr City had been trained in Iran.
“Anyone carrying a weapon that is provided (by Iran) or… is using (weapons) which are Iranian-based tend to be those who are trained in Iran on those weapons,” he told AFP.
“We know they are Special Groups when they run out to launch their rockets and mortars,” Driscoll said, adding that these groups generally comprise members of the Mahdi Army militia of hardline Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr who are ignoring his orders to lay down their arms.
“The Iranians continue to train Iraqis and finance their networks and over time that is going to build,” Driscoll told reporters.
More here on Iranian weapons in Iraq. If we respond militarily with Iran (and I think it is only a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’) the evidence we have will come out in droves, and may be doing so right now. Iran and Sadr are ignoring all the peaceful exit ramps being offered – which tells me they want confrontation.
Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has rejected conditions set by Iraq’s prime minister for stopping the military crackdown against his Mahdi Army militia.
An al-Sadr spokesman accused Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of wanting to resolve the problem by force instead of dialogue.
The conditions to end the fighting was for the Mahdi’s to lay down their arms. They think confrontation will impact the presidential elections. It probably will, but not in the manner they think it might. Iraqis are the ones heading this battle – we simply provide support. The Iraqi street is not rising up in alliance with Sadr, they are quietly praying for Maliki to establish order and drive the Mahdi thugs out. Something important is now surrounded in Sadr City – it just is not a place worth dying over. But the Mahdi are fighting hard for the Baghdad slum while they barely put up a fight for Basra, the 2nd largest city in Iraq. What is so important about Sadr City? Is it an Iranian force hiding out in Baghdad? Something is there.
Things will be coming to a head very soon. Iraq is decimating the Mahdi – whose pleas for help from the UN, Red Cross, Shiite Arabs in Iraq and the liberal SurrenderMedia have not stopped Maliki from dismantling Sadr’s forces, which were clearly overrated.
Update: The Mahdi thugs keep dying in droves as their weak and pathetic attempts to take on the US and Iraqi forces underscore the fact they are not capable – on the surface – to mount much of a threat:
The biggest clash in the day-long battles came at dusk on Sunday when “a large group of criminals engaging with small-arms fire” attacked a security force checkpoint, a US military statement said.
“US soldiers used 120 mm fire from M1A12 Abrams tanks and small-arms fire to kill … 22 criminals, forcing remaining enemy forces present to retreat,” the military said.
Abbas Abdul Hussein, a resident of Sadr City who witnessed the attack, said it had come at the height of the sandstorm.
“The militiamen took advantage of the storm. They knew there were no helicopters watching them, so they attacked US troops near the checkpoint,” said Hussein.
Pathetic. What is even more embarrassing to watch is the demand by the thugs who started this conflict by lobbing rockets and missiles at the Iraq government complex in the Green Zone is the liberal ‘let’s talk, not fight’ claptrap:
Sadr’s group rejected Maliki’s conditions for an end to the fighting late on Sunday.
“We say the crisis can be resolved by objective dialogue,” Obeidi said.
Pure BS for the simpletons on the left to lap up. These criminals have had a peaceful exit ready for them, the minute they disarm their heavy weapons (not the handguns or rifles). We now have a simple and affective idiot test – anyone who believes they can talk to these thugs while they are armed and shooting is clearly an idiot.
So I ask again, why are these militants fighting to the end for the Sadr City slum? Look at the difference in the Mahdi actions in the key port city of Basra against what is happening in Sadr City:
After a month of fighting, the Mahdi Army has disappeared from the streets of Basra, the largest city in the south. The army and police are everywhere, and people are providing information on where Mahdi Army personnel are hiding out, and the locations of their weapons caches. Up north, in the Sadr City section of east Baghdad, the Mahdi Army is still fighting hard. But the army and police have the upper hand, and are pushing the Shia militiamen back block by block.
What are the possible options that would cause the Mahdi to fight to the death? One option is key leaders are present who cannot be caught or the cause is crippled. That would suggest Iranian commanders might be present.
The dozen or so factions of the Mahdi Army vary in their loyalty to Sadr, or to political solutions. Several of the Mahdi Army factions are basically criminal gangs masquerading as religious zealots. Sadr denies he is a pawn of Iran, but as Mahdi Army houses are captured, more Iranian weapons and equipment show up, as well as religious propaganda from Iran. Iraqi president Maliki has told Sadr that the offensive would halt if the Mahdi Army surrenders all its weapons, stops attacking, or trying to infiltrate (by joining) the security forces, and hands over members wanted for crimes. So far, Sadr refuses, probably because many of his followers would turn on him if he tried. But Sadr also realizes that the Iraqi soldiers and police are capable, eventually, of grinding the Mahdi Army into nothingness. Another month or so of fighting and the Mahdi Army will be no more.
But there is another option worth considering. There could be very important weapons caches or finances hidden there. People and money can be replaced so I have my doubts on that front – but it is plausible. But if I had to open up the trade space to any option one thing that is hard to acquire and may be worth fighting for is one or more WMDs. I have no idea if this is the case, just wild speculation at this point. This could be all the result of religious zealotry. But for some reason the Mahdi don’t want to let go of the slums of Sadr City, and were willing to cede the important city of Basra to hold Sadr City. Strange set of priorities there.
Update: This is interesting breaking news:
Iraqi police say gunmen have assassinated a local commander of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the southern city of Basra.
A police official says Ali Ghalib, a commander of al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army in the Hakimiya neighborhood in central Basra, was gunned down by gunmen on a motorcycle as he was driving on Monday.
Are the Iranians assassinating potential witnesses?