Muqtada Sadr Office Bombarded

Kuna, the official Kuwaiti news agency, reports:

A joint force of the Iraqi Army and US troops Tuesday bombarded the office of Shiite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr in Al-Shula area, west of Baghdad, a security source told KUNA. The source said some 14 military vehicles are now surrounding the office and Iraqi and US soldiers could be seen confiscating material and documents.

Muqtada Al-Sadr himself is out of the country over fears for his safety.

Via Cernig, who thinks the analysis of this will break along predictable lines.

This could easily backfire, turning Sadrists who have so far hidden from “surge” forces over into attack mode. It could also be a cusp moment for the surge and for the Iraqi government, enabling at long last a beginning of a move towards peace.

My gut feeling says the former, pro-war commentators are sure to say the latter. Time will tell.

Actually, that kind of “backfire” sounds pretty good to me; it’s a hell of a lot easier to kill guerrillas in open attack mode than when they’re biding their time. My main concern is with the precision of the strike and the care taken to avoid civilian casualties. I’m much more worried about creating new militants than stirring up existing ones.

I’m also quite curious what this signals about the Maliki government. Is this a pro forma show of force with Sadr safely out of the country (despite previous denials, by the way)? Or have they actually decided to risk their governing coalition for the sake of actually running an effective government?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. First report said Al-Sadr fled to Iran for fear of being targeted by the troop surge. Then a report announced his followers said he was still in country. Now his office west of Baghdad is bombed by UR/Iraqi forces. Maybe some firm information will eventually follow.
    I thought his area of Baghdad was on the east side. What’s this one, his satellite office? However, regardless of one’s stand on the war it would be helpful if this “new” strategy would produce some significant results.

  2. I’m with you on this being a ‘win-win’. If Sadr’s people don’t react they lose face in the Arab sense (acknowledging they are the weaker party). And if they do react, they lose lives.

    In either case, they become less of a threat.

  3. Michael says:

    Im with you on this being a win-win. If Sadrs people dont react they lose face in the Arab sense (acknowledging they are the weaker party). And if they do react, they lose lives.

    In either case, they become less of a threat.

    Perhaps just as importantly, this may be a redirection that will make US and Iraqi forces a more likely target of Shia militias, taking their focus away from sectarian killings of Sunnis. Sunnis have already started to abandon Al Qaeda, since they have had to face the consequences of Al Qaeda’s sectarian division plan. It may be that US forces find themselves aided by Sunnis to suppress Shia militants. I wonder if our support for a Shia-led government will waiver in the future…

  4. DC Loser says:

    If this is what you say it is, the Sadrists will pick their time and place for retaliation. The Baghdad Security Plan calls for dispersing US personnel into neighborhood strongholds. Yesterday’s attack on the US outpost is but a foretaste of the possible future.

  5. Hold for verification. KUNA is not the most reliable source at times.

  6. jpe says:

    Sounds promising. Would be good if true.