2007 February 13 Tuesday
Sadr In Iran To Sit Out US Troop Surge In Iraq

A few weeks ago Iraqi Shia cleric and Mahdi Army militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr brought his political party back into Iraq's parliament after a boycott.

Ending a two-month boycott, the powerful political movement of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr will return to Iraq's parliament, the parliamentary speaker announced Sunday.

Politicians backing al-Sadr withdrew participation in Iraqi politics in a protest over Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's November meeting with President Bush in Jordan.

The al-Sadr bloc controls six government ministries and holds 30 of the 235 seats in parliament.

But around the time that this was happening Sadr fled Iraq for Iran in order to safely sit out the US troop surge.

WASHINGTON | Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr fled Iraq for Iran ahead of a security crackdown in Baghdad and the arrival of 21,500 U.S. troops sent by President Bush to quell sectarian violence, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday.

Al-Sadr left his Baghdad stronghold some weeks ago, the official said, and is believed to be in Tehran, where he has family. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. monitoring activities, said fractures in al-Sadr's political and militia operations may be part of the reason for his departure. The move is not believed to be permanent, the official said.

Ian Bremmer thinks the factions in and around Iraq can wait out the US troop surge.

To be sure, Bush's new strategy is highly unlikely to help Iraqis avert a slide into sectarian civil war. A temporary 16 percent boost in troops simply is not enough to get that job done. Bush insists that there will soon be enough US troops in central Iraq to "hold" areas seized from militia groups and insurgents. But for how long? A month? Four months? Three years? American troops will eventually leave Iraq, and all the relevant parties - the Maliki government, Shiite militias, Sunni insurgents, Iran, and Iraq's Sunni Arab neighbors - know it. Sadr can simply hold back and wait the Americans out.

I agree with this analysis. The armed groups that take on the US forces will take a lot of casualties. The result will be to strengthen the other factions that decide to hide and lay low. Sadr will benefit because some of the groups that have split off from the Mahdi Army have less sense and less discipline. They'll fight US forces and get weakened. After US forces peak and decline in number Sadr will eventually return to Iraq with fewer competitors. His forces will pick up where they left off.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 February 13 10:26 PM  Mideast Iraq Insurgency


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