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More views of the events at Basra (2) – bloggers and war-bloggers

28 March 2008

This post links to reports on events in Basra by bloggers, in addition to those I posted yesterday.  In the first post today, I – IV are links to what seem to me expert opinions.  This post, #V gives examples of what looks to me like simplistic speculation.  The last post, VI and VII, links to valuable background material.  The Internet can make us smarter or dumber, depending on how we choose to use it.

V.  Once you have read the first post (I – IV) you are prepared to read this, an example of War Porn, ignoring much of the vital context — a WWII narrative imposed on a far more complex reality:  “Iraqi security forces battle the Mahdi Army“, Bill Roggio (Editor of the Long War Journal; see his bio here)  (26 March 2008).  Recommended by the Instapundit.  Excerpt:

BAGHDAD, IRAQ: The cease-fire extension issued by Muqtada al Sadr, the leader of the Iranian-backed Mahdi Army, appears to be in jeopardy after the Iraqi government has launched an offensive against the Shia terror group in the southern city of Basrah. Dubbed Operation Knights’ Assault, Iraqi security forces have gone on the offensive to wrest control of the strategic oil hub and Iraq’s second largest city from Mahdi Army control. The fighting has spread to Baghdad and the southern provinces.

Knights’ Assault is an Iraqi-led operation and was ordered directly by Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, who is in Basrah to direct the operation along with Interior Minister Jawad Bolani. Basrah has seen an uptick in Iranian-backed terror activity since the British withdrew from the city late last year. Political assassinations and intimidation campaigns have been on the rise as the Iranians work to extend their influence in the oil-rich city. …

The Internet is flooded with material like this.  Here are some more examples (note:  excepts like these cannot represent the full scope of the original posts).  The contrast is obvious with the experts quoted in part one.

“The good news is, Iraqi forces are heavily engaged with the Mahdi Army with U.S. troops in a supporting role … On the other hand, if it in fact has the effect of ending Shiite infighting and lawlessness, and edges out Iran, then there is a distinctly unsleazy strategic angle to it.” 
   — From “Sadr Tidings“, Jules Crittenden, 27 March 2008.  A victory for the ISCI-allied forces means edging out Iran?  Is he kidding?

Is Price talking about the Iraq Army or the the American Colonial Iraq Rifles (would this description of their army please the people of Iraq?): 

“Clearly the U.S.-formed, U.S.-trained, relatively apolitical Iraqi Army is the overwhelming majority of this force, and not incidentally also own the vast majority of heavy weaponry. … the Iraqi Army officer and NCO corps are heavily vetted and indoctrinated by their U.S. trainers.
    — From “Maliki Confronts Rogue Sadr Elements“, David Price posting at Dean’s World, 27 March 2008. 

This comment by Yon is amazing, from the Instapundit (25 March 2008) — Yon deserves credit for non-consensus thinking…

MICHAEL YON EMAILS: “It’s important to contextualize the fighting in Basra. That the Iraqi Army apparently is fighting JAM is important; a largely Shia Government of Iraq is in command of the Iraqi Army. The Iraqi Army is fighting Shia militia. This is not bad news.”

Update:  Many of the war-bloggers emphasize that this is largely an operation of the Iraq Army against militia.   That might not be the case.  If US forces are in the lead, that might change how the locals see this operation.  Also note the “US officials” comments that directly contract the war-bloggers narrative.

U.S. Armor Forces Join Offensive In Baghdad Against Sadr Militia“, Washington Post (28 March 2008) – “Americans Appear To Take the Lead As Iraqi Units Wait”

U.S. forces in armored vehicles battled Mahdi Army fighters Thursday in Sadr City, the vast Shiite stronghold in eastern Baghdad, as an offensive to quell party-backed militias entered its third day. Iraqi army and police units appeared to be largely holding to the outskirts of the area as American troops took the lead in the fighting…. The U.S. officials, who were not authorized to speak on the record, said that they believe Iran has provided assistance in the past to all three groups — the Mahdi Army; the Badr Organization of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Iraq’s largest Shiite party; and forces loyal to the Fadhila Party, which holds the Basra governor’s seat. But the officials see the current conflict as a purely internal Iraqi dispute.Some officials have concluded that Maliki himself is firing “the first salvo in upcoming elections,” the administration official said. “His dog in that fight is that he is basically allied with the Badr Corps” against forces loyal to Sadr, the official said. “It’s not a pretty picture.”

Please tell us of any sources you have found useful by posting a comment (brief and relevant, please), or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 28 March 2008 1:42 pm

    What! The Instapundit is hawking misleading and poorly informed commentary! NEVER!!

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