“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."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Surge. the Ceasefire and the Election

Basra, Badr and Barack

The surge is over come July.
Sadr's ceasefire may end sooner.
(Like this weekend.)

Al-Sadr threatens to lift cease-fire


Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has threatened to lift by the end of the week a six-month cease-fire widely credited with helping reduce violence in Iraq, officials said Wednesday.

Sheik Salah al-Obeidi, a spokesman for al-Sadr in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, said that if the cleric failed to issue a statement by Saturday saying that the cease-fire was extended "then that means the freeze is over."

The cease fire was declared in August and due to expire at this month's end.

Al-Sadr's Mahdi Army is among the most powerful militias in Iraq. The crux of the message being sent by the organization was that al-Sadr followers would be free to resume their activities if no message was sent by the cleric on Feb. 23.

According to al-Obeidi, this "has been conveyed to all Mahdi Army members nationwide."

The threat was confirmed by another al-Sadr official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The U.S. military has welcomed the cease-fire, saying it is a major factor in the estimated 60 percent decline in violence in the country in the second half of 2007.

But the military has insisted on continuing to stage raids against what it calls Iranian-backed breakaway factions of the Mahdi Army militia, and anger among the cleric's followers has been building.

Influential members of al-Sadr's movement said recently that they had urged the anti-U.S. cleric to call off the cease-fire when it expires.

Al-Sadr's followers claim the U.S.-Iraqi raids, particularly in the southern Shiite cities of Diwaniyah, Basra and Karbala, are a pretext to crack down on the wider movement.

The maverick cleric announced earlier this month that he would not renew the order unless the Iraqi government purges "criminal gangs" operating within security forces he claims are targeting his followers.

That was a reference to rival Shiite militiamen from the Badr Brigade who have infiltrated security forces participating in the ongoing crackdown. The Badr Brigade and the Mahdi Army also are involved in a violent power struggle for control of the oil-rich south.

The Iranians may decide to seek to influence the US Presidential election. Turning the Badr Brigades loose to destabilize the country and kill US service men could bolster Obama's position going into the general election so the Shia militias and foreign jihadists will attempt to make all hell to break loose in the coming months. I am not sure that John McCain will be able to make the case for staying in Iraq.

Change is coming. In Pakistan, in Iraq and in America. Be ready.


  1. There's always the Habu Option.
    Any discomfort would be more than compensated by the pure enjoyment of watching Trish's reaction.

  2. You know that option will never be employed.

  3. Ok,
    I'll just watch Dr. Strangelove, and grit my teeth.

  4. The viable Habu option is move to Montana, build a shelter, hunker down.

  5. I, at least, don't have far to move.