Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Iranians captured in Baghdad; al-Sadr strikes back at Shi'ites

Just when we were about to release a few of the 72 Iranians we've caught in Iraq as a goodwill gesture, we catch eight more with illegal weapons. We released them today, and called the incident "regrettable":

Iran on Wednesday summoned the Swiss diplomat representing American interests here to protest the U.S. forces' detention in Baghdad of eight Iranians, including two diplomats, the Foreign Ministry said.

The U.S. military said it released the Iranian delegation on Wednesday, just hours after they were detained because unauthorized weapons were found in their cars. An adviser to the top U.S. general in Iraq called the detentions "regrettable."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said the U.S. action was an act of "interference" in Iraq's internal affairs and "inconsistent" with the responsibilities of U.S.-led occupation forces in Iraq.

Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned the charge d'affaires at the Swiss Embassy over the "illegal" detention of members of an Iranian Energy Ministry delegation, state-run television reported.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hosyhar Zebari told the British Broadcasting Corp. the Iranians were released after Iraqi officials intervened and told the Americans they were part of an official delegation on a legal visit to discuss electricity cooperation.

Maybe if US forces had been notified they were coming to Iraq this incident could have been avoided. But our troops on the ground aren't going to take chances especially with the fact we're still catching hostile Iranian forces in Iraq. Besides, had we been informed of their arrival, a security detail could have been provided which would have negated their insistence to carry illegal weapons.

In other news though al-Sadr's boys seem to be a little irate with recent developments between Nouri al-Maliki and Sunni and Shia leaders:

In what may be reprisal attacks for the recent violence in the Shi'a shrine city of Karbala, gunmen, believed to be fighters from the powerful Mahdi Army militia, attacked several Baghdad offices of the two major governing Shi'a parties.

Four offices of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) and one office of the Islamic Da'wa Party reportedly came under attack across the city, according to various media sources. Two SIIC offices were badly damaged by fire.
"The Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council's office in al-Habibiyah neighborhood, eastern Baghdad, came under attack with small-arms fire and RPGs this evening, setting the office ablaze," an eyewitness told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).

Another eyewitness said "the attack occurred today at 8:00 pm leaving some casualties among those present at the office."

Earlier on Tuesday, a police source said unidentified gunmen stormed and burned the office of the Shiite Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) in Kadhimiya district in northern Baghdad, VOI writes, another in a series of recent confrontations in Baghdad between the Sadrist militia and the ruling Shi'a parties.
"A group of gunmen stormed this afternoon the office of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) in Kadhimiya city before setting it ablaze," the source, who preferred to be unnamed, told VOI.

"Armed clashes flared up between Shiite cleric's Muqtada al-Sadr's fighters and elements from the office of the SIIC," the source also said, adding no further details.

The Kadhimiya office of the SIIC was burned, along with its contents, a security source told al-Melaf Press, the agency adds in Arabic.

Elements of the Mahdi Army also attacked the office of the SIIC in Sadr City, CNN Arabic writes, and Iraqi security forces were sent to reinforce the area.
The SIIC office in Shu'la also came under attack, al-Melaf Press reports.

Elements of the Mahdi Army have also attacked a Kadhimiya office of the Islamic Da'wa Party of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, CNN Arabic reports.

Despite the fact that many of the Mahdi militiamen have avoided violence in the last few weeks (trying to fly under the radar of the surge troops), these guys are still a sincere problem in Iraq. Marcie and I agree that Nouri al-Maliki's biggest mistake up to this point is allowing the Mahdi militia to stick around, and that he protected al-Sadr in the first place. We understand his reasoning behind it (the fact he is Shia, as al-Sadr is, and that he was afraid of the possible reprisals had he allowed us to arrest or kill him), but the Mahdis aren't a stabilizing force. They're only trying to undermine the government, and al-Maliki has to understand this.

That might be why he quit dealing with al-Sadr and his forces, and instead turned to Sunni and Shia leaders. If they can help turn their sects towards supporting the government, he has a greater chance to unify the country, and by default unite the government. The recent inroads and success made in Iraq speak volumes to the efforts of al-Maliki, the AISG, and General Petreus. No wonder why al-Sadr's ticked. He's losing Iraq for Iran right now, and is facing insurgents that have turned against him and al Qaeda.

Publius II

ADDENDUM: I missed this before posting this up, but Captain Ed has a story about the Mahdis, and their new mandate to stand down. From Yahoo News via the AP:

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered a six-month suspension of activities by his Mahdi Army militia in order to reorganize the force, and it will no longer attack U.S. and coalition troops, aides said Wednesday.

The aide, Sheik Hazim al-Araji, said on Iraqi state television that the goal was to "rehabilitate" the organization, which has reportedly broken into factions, some of which the U.S. maintains are trained and supplied by Iran.

"We declare the freezing of the Mahdi Army without exception in order to rehabilitate it in a way that will safeguard its ideological image within a maximum period of six months starting from the day this statement is issued," al-Araji said, reading from a statement by al-Sadr.

In Najaf, al-Sadr's spokesman said the order also means the Mahdi Army will no longer launch attacks against U.S. and other coalition forces.

"It also includes suspending the taking up of arms against occupiers as well as others," Ahmed al-Shaibani told reporters.

Asked if Mahdi militiamen would defend themselves against provocations, he replied: "We will deal with it when it happens."

Personally, we're taking this with a grain of salt. Al-Sadr's lied before about standing down. However, if this is true, and if it holds, this could prove yto be a turning point in the struggle against the insurgent militias that had practically turned Iraq into the wild west.

With the recent string of success in uniting Sunni and Shia, the cycle of violence may be entering its final stages, and finally slowing down. I mean, it has been since the surge started to ramp up in February/March when we took to the streets in an aggressive, pro-active manner. We've had very few clashes with al-Sadr's militia since the surge started, and primarily because he was target-of-opportunity number one, which is why he ran like the coward he is back to his native Iran.

We'll see if the six month "truce" holds, and what sort of behavior they'll return with. They're not leaving, by any stretch of the imagination. But if they come back full of pi$$ and vinegar, we'll be waiting with the ISF to deal with them.

Publius II


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