Taking the Fight to Moqtada al-Sadr?

A few weeks ago Sadr called on his followers to lay down their weapons in an effort to negotiate with the Iraqi Government and U.S. Coalition. Here’s a snippet from Reuters:

In his statement, Sadr called for an end to “random arrests” of his followers and for them to benefit from an amnesty law passed by parliament in February aimed at freeing thousands of prisoners from Iraqi jails.

The government welcomed Sadr’s statement but said it would press on with its campaign for control over Basra, which is divided up among various militias and criminal gangs.

The U.S Government has pressed on with their incarceration campaign and it has led Sadr to threaten another uprising.

From Raw Story:

“I am giving my last warning and my word to the Iraqi government to take the path of peace and stop violence against its own people, otherwise it will be a government of destruction,” he said in a statement issued by his office in the holy city of Najaf.

What does the U.S have to say about Sadr’s demands for peace and an end to incarcerating his followers? Time to get nervous:

A top US general on Sunday warned that the military would strike back after hardline Iraqi Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr threatened to launch a new uprising by his militia.

“I hope Moqtada al-Sadr continues to depress violence and not encourage it,” said Major General Rick Lynch, commander of US forces in central Iraq.

The U.S. government and Iraqi Government have no intentions to negotiate or work with Sadr, which is very bad news IMO. It’s bad news for stability in Iraq and it’s bad news for our soldiers. Here’s another snippet:

“If Sadr and Jaish al-Mahdi (Mahdi Army) become very aggressive, we’ve got enough combat power to take the fight to the enemy,” Lynch told a group of reporters from Western news networks.

Sadr, who has suspended the activities of his Mahdi Army militia since last August, threatened on Saturday to declare “open war” if a crackdown by Iraqi and US forces against his militiamen is not halted.

“I am giving my last warning and my word to the Iraqi government to take the path of peace and stop violence against its own people, otherwise it will be a government of destruction,” he said in a statement issued by his office in the holy city of Najaf.

“If it does not stop the militias that have infiltrated the government, then we will declare a war until liberation.”

Liberation. That’s what Sadr is fighting for, for himself and his fellow Iraqis. There is an uprising taking place against the government that the Americans have put in place. There is an uprising against American policies that have brought in foreign companies to take over Iraqi resources. It seems as though Sadr and the Mahdi Army don’t want to battle with American forces, they want to battle American policies. While many Americans believe that Sadr is a bad man because his Mahdi Army has fought with American soldiers, what do you think the Iraqi people view him as?

Please take a minute and put yourself in their shoes. A government comes into America, takes jobs and resources away from American companies and outsources them to other countries. A government comes in and puts in place government officials they believe will follow along with their political and economic policies. Do you think Americans would sit idly by and let that happen? No way. We would fight against such oppression and control. Of course the Iraqi Government and U.S. Coalition is trying to silence the Iraqi uprising by incarcerating the opposition. If the Iraqi Government and U.S. coalition continue to round up Sadr loyalists and incarcerate them, we will see much more unrest and bloodshed. We’ll lose more soldiers and we’ll lose any chance of stability in Iraq in the near future.

If we really want progress in Iraq, we need to work with Sadr and his followers. If we want real progress in Iraq we need to fire all American and foreign contractors and let the Iraqis take control over their own resources. If we want real progress in Iraq, we need to let Iraqis run their own government, without America appointing people we believe will go along with our policies. War is a failure. It’s a complete failure of diplomacy. I believe we’re failing yet again by not recognizing the need to work with Sadr to bring the country together.

In case you were wondering how Moqtada Al Sadr and the Mahdi Army came to be in Iraq, you only need to look at the failings of the American coalition and reconstruction in Iraq. Here’s a passage in Naomi Klein’s book, “The Shock Doctrine,” where she talks about how Sadr gained a following by trying to fill the economic holes left by the U.S. coalition:

The young shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr proved particularly adept at exposing the failures of Bremer’s privatize reconstruction in Shia slums from Baghdad to Basra, earning himself a devoted following. Funded through donations to Mosques, and perhaps later w/ help from Iran, the centers dispatched electricians to fix power and phone lines, organized local garbage collection, set up emergency generators, ran local blood drives and directed traffic. “I found a vacuum, and no one filled the vacuum,” al-Sadr said in the early days of the occupation, adding, “What I can do, I do.” He also took the young men who saw no jobs and no hope in Bremer’s Iraq, dressed them in black and armed them with rusty Kalashnikovs. The result was the Mahdi Army, now one of the most brutal forces in Iraq’s sectarian battles. These militias are corporatism’s legacy too; if the reconstruction had provided jobs, security and services to Iraqis, al-Sadr would been deprived of both his mission and many of his newfound followers. As it was, corporate America’s failures laid the groundwork for al-Sadr’s successes.

It seems to me that the U.S. never had any real intentions of trying to make Iraq work for the Iraqi people. Instead, corporatism and greed reared its ugly head, and now we’re about to see a massive uprising because of it.  


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    • Benny on April 21, 2008 at 1:09 am

    I don’t get it.  

  1. He wants to battle American policies!

    I want to battle American policies!

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