Posted by Curt on 19 June, 2008 at 1:11 pm. 35 comments already!


According the WaPo it appears the Iranians miscalculated when they backed Sadr instead of the Maliki government:

For the first time since 2003, Iran has stumbled in Iraq. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s decision to confront Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army in Basra and Sadr City last month caught Tehran off guard. The Mahdi Army lost more than face: It surrendered large caches of arms, and many of its leaders fled or were killed or captured. Crucially, the militias lost strategic terrain — Basra and its chokehold on the causeway between Kuwait and Baghdad and Iraq’s oil exports; Sadr City and the threat it posed to Baghdad security. Visiting Basra this month, I saw city walls covered with pro-Maliki graffiti. Commerce is returning to the city center. Trouble spots remain in both places, as Tuesday’s car bombings show, but the Mahdi Army’s unchallenged hold has ended.

Iran wants U.S. forces to leave Iraq and assumes that a friendly Shiite government would then protect Iran’s interests. Tehran has looked to Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Revolutionary Guards‘ Quds Force, to manage its strategy of supporting Shiite unity and resisting American occupation. But these efforts do not go hand in hand. The first means supporting stability and state-building and working with Iraq’s government; the second involves building violent militias that undermine government authority.

And according to Vali Nasr the only thing the Iranians have succeeded in doing is alienating Maliki, his government and the Shiite community:

Maliki’s recent push into Basra showed that Iran’s policy was untenable. Not only are its two goals at war, but Iran has alienated the Maliki government and mainstream Shiites. One Shiite politician asked me, “How can the government succeed if Iran undermines its effectiveness?” They recognize that Iranian-backed militias were a threat not to Sunnis but Shiites in the government. It was Iranian-made rockets that rained down on the homes of Shiite leaders in the Green Zone. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who refused to even speak with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his visit to Iraq, condemned militia violence and said that only government forces should carry guns. Criticism of Iran was rife in conversations I had in Iraq this month, even among those usually protective of Iran’s role there.

Iran has also managed to bolster the Iraqi army. The dissolution of Iraq’s military after the fall of Saddam Hussein was a strategic victory for Tehran. Yet after all the talk of standing up an army that could confront the Sunni insurgency, it was not by fighting al-Qaeda in Mosul but the Iranian-backed Mahdi Army in Basra that the Iraqi army found its footing.

And that footing is getting stronger by the day:

Iraqi troops on Thursday arrested the top official in Amarah, a Muqtada al-Sadr loyalist, officials said, drawing swift condemnations from followers of the anti-U.S. cleric and raising tensions as a military operation against Shiite militias got under way.

Rafia Abdul-Jabbar, who also was acting deputy governor for Maysan province, was seized from his office Thursday morning along with a member of the provincial council, a local official said.

The arrest came as Iraqi troops fanned out and gunmen tossed weapons on the streets or in canals with the official launch of the military crackdown in Amarah, a stronghold of al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia and the purported center of weapons smuggling from neighboring Iran.

The military action came a day after the expiration of a four-day deadline for militants in Amarah to surrender their arms or face arrest.

It’s the fourth such U.S.-backed Iraqi military operation launched against Shiite and Sunni extremists in recent months as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki seeks to assert government control over the country ahead of provincial elections to be held in the fall.

Harry Reid was asked for comment but he appears to be still in hiding….lets ask another Democrat tho, Barbara Boxer:

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) repeatedly attempted to prod Petraeus and Crocker to acknowledge that Iran’s influence inside Iraq has grown even as Americans continue to fight and die in Iraq.

Crocker tried to downplay the issue, calling Iran’s influence a “mixed bag,” but Boxer was having none of it. Crocker also noted that “thousands, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Shias” were killed during the 1980-1988 war between Iran and Iraq.

The California Democrat, though, wqas have none of it. Boxer was particularly outraged by the fact that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the first official state visitor to Iraq, openly embraced by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, while President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other American officials can only make surprise, unannounced visits under tight security.

“I give up,” Boxer exlaimed after failing to get an direct answer from Crocker on the extent of Iranian influence inside Iraq. “They kissed him [Ahmadinejad] on the cheek!”

Democrats wrong once again. Instead the Iranian influence has waned as the Iraqi army has stood its ground and have now even gone on the offensive. All signs that we are winning the war in Iraq and the Iraqi people are well on their way to a form of Democracy.

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