Saturday, March 29, 2008

Iraq - Basra Police Mutiny, Refuse to attack Sadrists, Clashes continue in Basra, Sadrists open New fronts throughout Shiite South - Informed Comment

Two Words: Tet Offensive

Also see, Stan Goff, Feral Scholar, for a strategic/tactical perspective:

Good Morning, Vietnam!
"...he (al Sadr) commands the ferocious loyalty of two and a half million people and has an 80,000-strong militia concentrated a stone’s throw from the U.S.-protected Green Zone in Baghdad.

Baghdad has about 6 million people; New York City has 8 million, just by way of comparison.

The population of Sadr City, the “neighborhood” under the leadership of Sadr, is approximately that of Brooklyn.”
In Full

Informed Comment
Saturday, March 29, 2008

Police Mutiny, Refuse to attack Sadrists;
Clashes continue in Basra;
Sadrists open New fronts throughout Shiite South

Mahdi Army Militiamen
Courtesy Al-Zaman of Baghdad.

Another US soldier was killed in Baghdad on Friday.

The Times of Baghdad reports in Arabic that clashes continued on Friday between Iraqi government forces and the Mahdi Army in Baghdad and the provinces of the middle Euphrates and the south, causing hundreds of casualties, including among women, children and the elderly. The fighting also did damage to Iraq's infrastructure, as well as to oil facilities and pipelines, damage that might run into the billions of dollars.

The US got drawn into the fighting on Friday. US planes bombed alleged Mahdi Army positions both in Basra and in Sadr City in Baghdad (as well as in Kadhimiya).

Kadhimiya is a major Shiite shrine neighborhood in northwest Baghdad, and the spectacle of the US bombing it is very unlikely to win Washington any friends among Iraqi Shiites.

Despite the US intervention, government troops were unable to pierce Mahdi Army defenses or over-run their positions.

Al-Zaman says that the police force in Basra suffered numerous mutinies and instances of insubordination, with policemen refusing to fire on the Mahdi Army. The government response was to undertake a widespread purge of disloyal elements.

[Hmm. I wonder where fired policemen with combat training and guns could find another job . . . Maybe with the Mahdi Army?]

The Mahdi Army opened a number of new fronts in the fighting, in Nasiriya, Karbala, Hilla, and Diwaniya, as a means of reducing the pressure on its fighters in the holy city of Karbala. Local medical officials reported 36 dead in the fighting in Nasiriya.

[In Full]

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