Iran Yanks Another Chain
By Robert A. Hahn Posted in War — Comments (40) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
It seems that dozens more people died yesterday, in yet another battle, in Iraq. But come closer. This is different. From The Times:
Dozens of people were killed as Shia militiamen battled the Iraqi Army for control of a city in southern Iraq yesterday.
That's right, Shia militamen — that would be Moqtada al-Sadr's "al-Mahdi Army" — attacked the army of Iraq. That's a big deal. That's not insurgency, that's insurrection. Those weren't Americans, or even "coalition troops" they were shooting at. That was the Iraqi Army. It's a direct challenge to the fledgling government of Iraq by... Iran's chief stooge.
Apparently, lighting a fire in Lebanon is not enough trouble for Mr. Ahmadinejad. Now he'd like to start another fire in Iraq.
Moqtada al-Sadr is, of course, a guy we should have plastered when we had the chance. We knew when we let him go — at the intervention of Ayatollah "Peacemaker" al-Sistani — that having al-Sadr running around loose would sooner or later come back to bite us. Today, even al-Sistani would probably agree. As rising young Mullahs go, Hojatoleslam al-Sadr has been a disappointment.
For al-Sadr's militia to be battling the Army of Iraq is messy business, for al-Sadr's party is part of the government of Iraq, holding seats in parliament and several ministerial slots. In that sense it is much like Hizbollah in Lebanon, except it is now in open rebellion against the national government.
This would seem to be one of those Moments In History when a single individual can make a huge difference in the flow of world events, and certainly in the fate of his country. If Prime Minister al-Maliki has the courage, he can end any impending 'civil war' in Iraq right now. While he's at it, he can neutralize a large part of Iran's Department of Foreign Meddling that has been operating in his country. And he can send a strong message to anyone else who has a "militia" that the Era of Militias is over... that the government of Iraq is the government of Iraq. It will crush anyone who says otherwise. This of course involves crushing Mr. al-Sadr, who has volunteered to serve as an example to others.
That would be a good thing. Let us hope that al-Maliki does it. It is not without risks, for al-Sadr has his fans. It may be that Ayatollah al-Sistani has lost so much influence since the rise of al-Sadr that he could no longer play the calming role that he once did should the government move strongly against al-Sadr. But it would be good if he would try.
This is a pivotal moment. Our long struggle in Iraq is about to be made, or broken. It all hinges on the leadership of one Nouri al-Maliki, the elected Prime Minister under the new Constitution. Is he George Washington, or is he Alexander Kerensky? We're about to find out.