The surge, the Shias, and the sham

Posted on Monday, March 31st, 2008 at 4:25 pm by JTE

I’ve seen arguments before that the “surge” didn’t actually do much to reduce violence in Iraq, but instead benefited (from the perspective of public relations) from the more-or-less independent and coincidental decision by popular Shiite leader Moktada al-Sadr to order the large militia under his control to halt attacks against Iraqi government and U.S. forces. The proof is in the past week’s pudding: when Sadr authorized his militia to engage in attacks, it forced the Iraqi government to say uncle–even though the Iraqi government had artillery, air power, and special forces support from the US and UK. Then, when Sadr told his militia to knock it off, the (relative) quiet returned.

Iraqis returned to the streets of Baghdad after a curfew was lifted, and the southern port city of Basra appeared quiet on Monday, a day after the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr called for his followers to stop fighting and in turn demanded concessions from Iraq’s government.

Conclusion: it is not US troops that are holding down the level of violence. It is the choices of powerful factions within Iraq, choosing for their own reasons and not because of fear of the US. Friends, it’s time to come home.

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