“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Moqtada al-Sadr asked Mehdi Army to leave Iraq help Baghdad security?

Does he look like he is leaving to improve security?

Sadr tells some militiamen to leave Iraq-Talabani
15 Feb 2007 18:42:42 GMT
Source: Reuters

BAGHDAD, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Iraq's president said on Thursday he believed radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr had asked some members of his Mehdi Army militia to leave Iraq to ensure the success of a U.S.-backed security crackdown in Baghdad.
"I think that many of the Mehdi Army active members were asked to leave Iraq. I think Moqtada al-Sadr asked them to leave to make the ... Baghdad security plan easier," Jalal Talabani told a news conference, without explaining what he meant by active members.
Talabani added he was unaware of Sadr's whereabouts. The U.S. military has said the anti-American cleric was in Iran, but his aides have insisted he was in Iraq


  1. Gingrich was just on Fox; what a shame he hasn't the sincerity of Clinton and the virtue of Bush. He is, alas, a mere mortal.

  2. The Shia Militias have gone to ground. As was foreseen. Mr al-Sadr standing strong with the desires of Mr Maliki.
    Hard for the US to fight the Mahdi Army, when it melts away.

    Stand down for six months, a year, a decade. The UIA will still be the political bloc that runs Iraq when Mr Bush leaves the Oval Office.

    The only target left for the Surge, the Six Tribes of aQ.
    They will not be able to melt away with an assumption of return.

  3. Great article from the American Thinker..really good

    just a part...

    The pernicious influence of Adorno's ‘authoritarian personality' idea can be clearly seen in some of the research that gets public money.

    "In Aug., 2003, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the results of their $1.2 million tax-payer funded study. It stated, essentially, that TRADITIONALISTS ARE MENTALLY DISTURBED. Scholars from the Universities of Maryland, California at Berkeley, and Stanford had determined that social conservatives...suffer from ‘mental rigidity,' ‘dogmatism,' and ‘uncertainty avoidance,' together with associated indicators for mental illness." ‘Social and Emotional Learning" Jan. 26, 2005)

    That's about mid article, not even the warm up.

  4. That is Mr al-Hakim's group, the Badr Organization's Commander was a guest at the White House.
    He also was recieving assistance in the form of Iranian Qud agents detained by US at one of his compounds.

    They are not even on the public list of targets. The Mahdi Army has dispersed and gone to ground, the Badr holding pat in Basra and the South.

    It's the Six Tribes of aQ, or the Surge project stalls out. There is not much time to waste on chasing the Iraqi Government's shadow.

  5. Habu how ya doin?

    That link to American Thinker is an excellent but frightening read.

    Cultural Marxism, polymorphous perversion, Critical Theory.

    As the author, Linda Kimball said, its diabolical.

    Her article deserves its own post here at the EB.


  6. “Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday that the United States was not looking for an excuse to attack Iran and backed off a U.S. official's recent comments implicating Tehran in arming Iraqi insurgents.”
    Gates says U.S. not looking for excuse for Iran war

    Since 1979, I’ve been worried sick about this possibility.

  7. The same General Odom praised for his wisdom previously on this site?

    Thursday, February 15, 2007
    General William Odom
    Posted by Hugh Hewitt | 5:26 PM
    General William Odom (US Army, ret.) is a vocal critic of the Iraq deployment and wants it ended asap. He put his arguments in the Washington Post last Sunday in an op ed which was essentially an encore of an op-ed he wrote in 2005.

    General Odom is a distinguished public servant but his arguments are to me wholly unpersuasive and border on indifference to many obvious issues.

    I have just taped an interview with him which will play in the program's third hour today. The transcript is here.

    Key excerpts...

  8. trish,

    After nearly 30 years of Iranian provocations, the US must avoid any precipitous retaliation. Rather than finding ourselves provoked into responding to Iranian bullying, we must leave the area ASAP.

  9. DoD Secretary Gates hasn’t heard that the government of Iran signs the paychecks of these guys; a lot like in the US, one suspects.

    Elite Iranian Corps Enmeshed in Iraq


  10. trish,

    re: allen said, "Rather than finding ourselves provoked into responding to Iranian bullying, we must leave the area ASAP."

    What? No retort to my suggestion that we get out of Dodge before the Iranians call us out of the Long Branch to gunfight?

    Not very sporting.

  11. trish,

    re: How do the Israelis look? Not very bright.

    Compared to what/whom?

  12. Elite Iranian Corps Enmeshed in Iraq (sound familiar)? The question is how long can al-Sadr remain in the background as al-Hakim's influence grows. They differ omn the oil issue.

    The Badr Organization of Reconstruction and Development/ the Mehdi army. Harmony, or a Iraq Shia version of Fatah/Hamas?

    ...Iran is entrenhed in Iraq. The first way is through the activities of the al-Quds Forces, the special command division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC). The second approach is by funding and arming Shi’ite militias, the most prominent of which is the SCIRI’s 25,000-strong armed wing, the Badr Organization of Reconstruction and Development. Senior members of the Badr Org. and the al-Quds Forces have a closely coordinated relationship. Intelligence reports have indicated that Iranian officers are directing operations under cover in units of the Badr Organization. The Mahdi Army also
    receives important Iranian assistance, but on a much smaller scale. The IRGC Commander is General Yahya Rahim-Safavi and the Deputy Commander is General
    Mohammad Bager Zulgadr. The al-Quds Forces Commander is General Qassem Soleimani. Generals
    Zulgadr and Soleimani are two most senior officers responsible for Iran’s large covert program in Iraq and have a direct link to the Office of the Leader. Additionally, intelligence estimates have identified four other IRGC generals and nine IRGC colonels that are directly responsible for covert operations in Iraq. The al-Quds Forces mainly function as a large intelligence operation skilled in the art of unconventional warfare. Current intelligence estimates puts the strength of the force at 5,000. Most of these are highly trained officers. Within the al-Quds Forces, there is a small unit usually referred to as the “Special Quds Force” which consists of the finest case officers and operatives. The senior officers attached to this unit conduct foreign covert unconventional operations using various foreign national movements as proxies. The forces operate mainly outside Iranian territory, but maintain numerous training bases inside Iran as well. Al-Quds international operations are divided into geographic areas of influence and various corps. The most important and largest cover Iraq, Saudi Arabia (and the Arabian Peninsula), and Syria / Lebanon. The smaller corps cover Afghanistan, Pakistan/India, Turkey, the Muslim Republics of the former Soviet Union, Europe / North America, and North Africa (Egypt, Tunisia,Algeria, Sudan, and Morocco). The goal of Iran is to infiltrate all Iraq-based militias by providing training and support to their members.
    For example, al-Sadr’s estimated 10,000-strong Mahdi Army, which gets logistical and financial support from al-Quds, also receives training in IRCG camps in Iran. Moreover, nearly all of the troops in the Badr Org. were trained in these camps as well. In addition, most senior officers acquired their skills in
    specialized camps under the control of the al-Quds Forces. Intelligence estimates that al-Quds currently operates six major training facilities in Iran, with the main facility located adjacent to Imam Ali University in Northern Tehran. The other most important training camps are located in the Qom, Tabriz, and Mashhad
    governorates. There are also two similar facilities operating on the Syrian-Lebanese border.
    According to a senior general in the Iraqi Defense Ministry and a critic of Iran, the Iranians have set up the most sophisticated intelligence-gathering network in the country, to the extent that they have infiltrated “every major Iraqi ministry and security service.” There is also an intelligence directorate that has been set up within the Revolutionary Guard that is under the command of the al-Quds Forces devoted exclusively to monitoring the movements of US and Allied forces in Iraq. Many members of the newly created police and Iraqi forces are controlled by Shi’ite officers who, in some form or another, previously belonged to SCIRI or other groups affiliated with Iran. Recent intelligence indicates that IRGC officers are currently operating in Iraq in certain Shi’ite militias and actual army and police units. The degree of penetration of these organizations is difficult to assess, and it is virtually impossible to distinguish between Iraqi Shi’ite militias and police units, both of which are profoundly influenced by Iran, and in some cases are under Iranian control. Iranian manipulation has filtered down to street level as well. Ordinary police and military officers now have a stronger allegiance to the Badr Organization or the Mahdi Army than to their own units. And of course, these organizations are deeply connected to Iran. According to the head of intelligence of an allied
    country that borders Iraq, “the Iranians have not just pulled off an infiltration, in certain regions in Baghdad and Basra, it’s been a complete takeover.”

    Sat Jan 06, 04:47:00 PM EST

  13. Pajamas Media...B-1 Lancer over Baghdad?

    The ground force in Iraq, enlarged by 21,500 troops, will "have more advanced technology tools to work with," says a retired U.S. Army official with insight into the service's preparations. "There's certainly going to be more precision weapons available and ....more special operations teams that can provide precision targeting (seems these teams are also busy killing and capturing AQ-Al-Masri?)."

    "Will there be more airpower going to Iraq in the next days, weeks, months? Hell, yes," says a senior Air Force official. "There will be precision weapons applied wherever there's an enclave, a storage area or logistics activity--boom, boom, boom.

    The B-1B is delivering most of the smart bombs, because it can carry 24 smart bombs (or up to 144 of the streamlined, 250 pound SDB, or Small Diameter Bomb), and can stay in the air for...eight hours, or more, over a combat zone. The troops, however, really like the fighter-bombers (F-16/15/18) carrying the targeting pods, because the pilots can find targets by themselves or, more importantly, work with the ground troops to do so.

    ...for a MANPADS team shooting at copters, target acquisition and data relay time can kill; better shoot and scoot...quickly

  14. Shucks, I sure hope Gates is just foolin' us and the Iranis, and has a bunch of disinfo up his sleeve.

    "Speak Lefty and harry with a big bag of tricks."

  15. elijah,

    Gateway Pundit has some links apropos this thread and your posts. If you haven’t already, you might check them out – interesting stuff.

    Syrian Intelligence Officer Sentenced in Iraq


  16. And we all gonna die
    ___Country Joe

  17. trish,

    When I chew, I try not to bite off a bigger piece than I can handle. Oh, I try not to spit on my shoes, either. Not many brain cells required.

  18. One, two, three
    what are we fightin' for

    Tell you I don't give a damn
    next stop old Baghdad.

    Ain't no time to wonder why

    When do the natives start using US dollars? Reliance on Iranian script, the prefered "store of value", that's the telling negative sign.

    Especially if the tales of economic inflation in Iran are accurate.

  19. "... On multiple occasions the defendant provided accurate details of his illegal entry into Iraq along with another Syrian national. More specifically the defendant admitted to being a lieutenant in the Syrian Intelligence sent to Iraq to oversee a small group of foreign fighters that use mortars around Mosul and recruit Iraqis for suicide missions against MNF-I. On Feb. 4 the trial panel found the defendant guilty and sentenced him to 15 years imprisonment. "

    15 years and what do you get?

  20. That’s the way you do it.
    China Executes Muslim “Extremist”

    Paging John “Dick” Murtha. Paging Dick “Dick” Durbin. Paging Chris “Dick” Dodd.

  21. DR,

    re: 15 years

    An eternity in an Iraqi jail.

  22. May be why no one completes a sentence, one way or another.

    Saddam's nephew escapes from northern Iraq prison
    BAGHDAD (CNN) Dec 7, 06 -- A jailed relative of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein escaped from prison Saturday in northern Iraq.

    Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf, Interior Ministry spokesman, said Ayman Sabawi -- Hussein's nephew -- escaped from Badosh prison, which is about 50 kilometers west of Mosul. Sabawi is the son of Saddam's half-brother Sabawi Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti.

    Khalaf said he escaped with the help of police officers, and police are investigating to determine who aided Sabawi.

    Ayman Sabawi was apprehended in May 2005 north of Tikrit, and was later convicted on charges of bomb-making and supporting the insurgency. He was sentenced to life in prison.

    Life = 18 months

  23. This is not a glowing endorsement of the Bush Iranian policy.

    Limited Engagement

    Do not miss the links!

  24. economic juggernaut?

    February 14, 2007
    The Middle East on a Collision Course (6): The Saudi Oil Weapon...

    Iran's Economy in a Glance -

    To deal with the budget shortfalls and, at the same time, continue the president's profligate populist policies, Iran has been drawing on the special foreign exchange account which was meant to cushion the country in the event of a rapid shortfall in oil revenues. According to the daily Etemad-i-Melli, the Iranian Majlis (Parliament) voted on January 24 to allow the government to withdraw from the account the equivalent of $700 million to finance shortfalls in the health and health-education sectors, including the payment of overdue wages. During a contentious debate in the Majlis on the government's request, a member of the parliamentary Economic Committee, Elias Naderan, claimed that "the foreign-exchange reserve account has no cash in it to take out." Another member of parliament, Ahmad Tavakkli, claimed that the fund had a balance of only $400 million and wondered where exactly the remaining $300 million would come from.

    Iran's Appeal to Saudi Arabia to Reduce Oil Export -

    It is hardly surprising that the Deputy Chairman of Iran's Parliamentary Committee for National Security and Foreign Policy Mohammad Nabi Roudaki has made this statement:

    "A number of Arab countries in the region and the Saudi government are inclined to help the U.S. and want to pressure Iran... We recommend to Saudi Arabia that it trust [only] itself, and that it bring about regional stability with the accompaniment of the forces in the region. It is best that Saudi Arabia do nothing [against Iran], since [otherwise] they will quickly face protest by their people. Saudi Arabia must reduce its oil exports so that the price of oil will balance out. Otherwise, tomorrow America will attack Saudi Arabia, on the pretext that it has no democracy and freedom."

    The Associated Press February 15, 2007
    Oil prices sink...

    Oil prices extended their decline Thursday, as traders disappointed with a weaker-than-expected draw on heating fuel stocks weighed a forecast for warmer temperatures in the Northeast next week.

    Light, sweet crude for March delivery fell 74 cents to $57.26 a barrel in midday trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

    With less than six weeks left to go until spring begins, the winter window is rapidly closing in on the bulls," which could lead to oil prices down closer to $50 than $60 a barrel, said Man Financial analyst Edward Meir, in a report.

  25. For Trish, a fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute writes:
    Washington's Make-Believe Policy on Iran

    “In fact this policy is a pathetic sham. It is a cover-up for Washington's abdication of the responsibility to protect American lives.”

    “How could such a feeble policy fail to encourage Iran's belief that it is free to pursue its hostile goals with impunity?”

    “This does not mean an Iraq-like crusade to bring them elections; it means protecting U.S. lives by destroying Iran's militant regime. But that is precisely what our leaders refuse to do.”

    “To do that would be self-assertive: it would mean putting America's interests first. Today's prevailing ethical standard condemns such action as selfish, and therefore immoral. Washington's moral premise rules out as illegitimate the dedicated pursuit of American self-defense.
    ___Elan Journo

  26. The best I can figure is this. This Administration is at the end of its useful life.

    There is going to be a vote this weekend on the non-binding resolution. State legislatures are now getting into the foreign policy act.

    General Pace signaled that the intelligence dog and pony show on Iranian weapons was not conclusive.

    The Palestinians are forming a coalition government.

    On the other side of the World, North Korea seems to be entering into an agreement which is really Clinton II with a difference. The Chinese have given the Norks a reality check.

    The Russians are appearing to be more and more heavy handed with energy and now threatening to pull out of the intermediate range missile treaty. They are losing ground with the Europeans.

    The French are talking about strengthening sanctions against Iran.

    European sanctions against Iran would hurt the Iranian Regime.

    The US is parking military assets against Iran, very possibly to encourage the EU to act.


    All the pieces seem to be in play for a diplomatic solution. I would not rule out some tactical strikes of a Kissinger/Nixon mode against specific Iranian border targets, but the game seems to be shifting towards some diplomatic undertaking. I give it about a 75% confidence factor.

    Diplomacy Nixon going to China Redux.

  27. trish said...

    They know they've got a good long while before push comes to shove. The real job is to slow the works while... encouraging certain changes.

    It's the no-policy policy.

    And, hey, we can always do a Nixon-to-China.

    Sun Jan 07, 01:40:00 AM EST

  28. deuce, it certainly seems so that they are headed for a diplomatic solution, partially encouraged by the NorK deal. But that took a few years in six-party talks - and if somehow they are praying that they can get an easy deal out of Iran, perhaps their enthusiasm is misplaced.

    Risk-free investments

    From the article:

    From now on, every step forward in Iran’s nuclear program must be met with a reaction calculated to be opposite and at least equal to the increase in strategic threat occasioned by the Iranian move.

    The strategy of incrementalism will only allow Iran to continue this impasse as it has the time to respond to such counter-moves - the drawn-out confrontation will only be made more bearable to Iran. What is needed is a display of potential force to inflict unacceptable damage on their oil and gas infrastructures.

    To Iran: you do not have the sovereign right to exercise foreign policy that infringes on other sovereignties. I propose that either we recognise these regimes as Nation States, or not at all. No point in allowing them to stay within the revolving door.

    How is it they vociferously uphold the concept of the Nation State as inviolable, and thus their right to pursue nuclear energy by extension, yet be able to get away with ignoring the UN?

  29. Above article (h/t tiger).

    In short, brandishing a bigger stick before we let loose the carrots.

  30. harrison,

    re: brandish

    You may be sure; Mr. Bush is a brandisher par excellence. I await the clarifying cartoon from Cox and Fuckhim.