“I have failed to liberate Iraq, and transform its society into an Islamic society.”
— Moqtada al-Sadr, Asharq Al Awsat newspaper, March 8, 2008
Moqtada al-Sadr — the radical cleric dubbed “The Most Dangerous Man in Iraq” by a Newsweek cover story in December 2006 –has just unilaterally extended the ceasefire he imposed on his Mahdi Army militia last summer. And on the eve of the Iraq War’s fifth anniversary, Sadr also issued a somber but dramatic statement. He not only declared that he had failed to transform Iraq, but also lamented the new debates and divisions within his own movement. Explaining his marginalization, Sadr all but confessed his growing isolation: “One hand cannot clap alone.”
……Moqtada al-Sadr came very close to establishing a state within a state inside Iraq, much like Hezbollah had done in Lebanon.
It began in 2003, when Sadr’s followers orchestrated the murder of Majid al-Khoie, a moderate Shiite cleric whom the U.S. government had hoped could play a pivotal role in building a democratic Iraq. It continued with a series of armed uprisings across the south in April 2004, which took the lives of scores of American troops, and led to the collapse of Iraq’s fledgling security forces. These culminated in a dramatic standoff against the Iraqi government and U.S. forces at the Holy Shrines in August 2004. In 2005 and 2006 Sadr expanded his territorial reach, using his militia to expel Sunnis from their Baghdad neighborhoods and massively infiltrating the Iraqi police forces.
In areas under his control, Sadr set up extrajudicial Sharia courts to administer justice against Iraqi Shiite “heretics.” Large numbers of citizens found guilty were punished by death. The Mahdi Army militia also established its own security checkpoints in Baghdad and across the south — supplanting Iraq’s weak national army and lightly deployed U.S. forces.
……In 2007, the U.S. military shifted approach, putting in place for the first time a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy backed by a surge of troops to support it. The new strategy paid large dividends against al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents, as attacks dropped to 2005 levels and Iraqi deaths due to ethno-sectarian violence declined 90% from June 2007 to March 2008. As Sunni attacks against Shiite civilians declined, so did the rationale for Sadr’s authority.
As the International Crisis Group concluded, one “net effect” of the surge “was to leave the Sadrist movement increasingly exposed, more and more criticized and divided, and subject to arrest.”
……while the progress made against Sadr has been remarkable, it may also be fragile. Sustaining it means recognizing that political progress depends fundamentally on security. This basic insight of counterinsurgency warfare — which has driven our progress against Sadr’s militants, the Sunni insurgency, and al Qaeda over the past year — is the central lesson America has learned in its five years of war in Iraq.
In this war, we had to to shift operational gears quickly, from conventional to ‘unconventional’ tactics. The lessons of Vietnam were not lost on us. When you face an enemy who blends in with, and is often part of, the population, you fight as they do.
The Islamic terrorists did allot of our work for us; through their brutality and imposition of Sharia Law, the Iraqi people began to turn against them enmasse.
A benefit in this war against Islamofascism, is that we helped the Iraqis and the Afghans accomplish what they could never have done on their own: overthrow their oppressive regimes.
There’s allot of wailing and gnashing of teeth by anti-war loons, about the American ‘occupation’, as if it equates to an unprovoked and unjustifiable reason.
The alternative–walking away as we did after Desert Storm and the Soviet war in Afghanistan–would be a disastrous repeat of the aftermaths.
For almost 20 years afterward, Saddam Hussein was still in power, developing WMD, filling mass graves, and thumbing his nose at post-war Resolutions, and the Al Qaeda and Taliban were left to their own cruel devices, slaughtering dissidents and oppressing young girls and woman under Sharia Law.
All that, combined with the increasing proximity of terrorist attacks against America, went without so much as a peep out of the Left.
Al-Sadr realizes what the anti-war contingent does not. He, like the rest of Islamofascism, is failing.