Bill Roggio updates us on the cease fire declared by Sadr. Interesting aspect of the cease fire is that Maliki “appears” to have not accepted it:
While Sadr spokesman said the Iraqi government agreed to Sadr’s terms for the cease-fire, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has said the security forces will continue operations in Basrah in the South. Meanwhile, the Mahdi Army took heavy casualties in Basrah, Nasiriyah, Babil, and Baghdad over the weekend, despite Sadr’s call for the end of fighting.
The Iraqi military said it was moving in more forces into the South after admitting it was surprised by the level of resistance encountered in Basrah. “Fresh military reinforcements were sent to Basra to start clearing a number of Basra districts of wanted criminals and gunmen taking up arms,” said Brigadier General Abdel Aziz al Ubaidi, the operations chief for the Ministry of Defense. “Preparations for fresh operations have been made to conduct raids and clearance operations in Basra … [and] military operations would continue to restore security in Basra.”
Sending in “fresh military reinforcements” to clear Basra districts of armed gunmen sure doesn’t sound like any cease fire I have heard of….but don’t tell the NYT’s:
Mr. Maliki had vowed that he would see the Basra campaign through to a military victory, and the negotiated outcome was seen as a serious blow to his leadership.
And Wretchard at The Belmont Club see’s this cease fire, if it can be called one, as temporary:
We haven’t gotten to the middle game between Maliki versus Sadr nor remotely close to the endgame. About all we can be sure of is that more yet to come. And although a “ceasefire” has been declared in the newspapers, in truth the ceasefire is bound to be temporary. The fact that a gambit has been played suggests there is going to be a winner and a loser. The question is whether it will be Maliki or Sadr. The Iraqi Army must, for political reasons, settle this affair on their own.
Roggio continues to emphasize that Sadr’s forces have taken heavy casualties, and more to the point is low on ammunition. He surveys the action not only in Basra, but in Baghdad and Nasiriyah and notes that the fightint has died down. One characteristic of militia forces is that they are not configured for sustained combat. They fight with ready-use ammo and some caches. But if we assume that Maliki has decided to press on with the attack and that US forces will not involve themselves, the events of the next few days will depend on the strategic mobility and sustainment capability of the Iraqi Army.
Should be an interesting next few days.