April 16, 2007

Muqtada al-Sadr – Isn’t it about time we deal with this guy?

Radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered the six ministers of the Iraqi cabinet who are members of his Sadrist party to resign their positions, as well as other members that sit in the Iraq assembly. The Sadrists comprise about one-fourth of the Shia Alliance that in concert with the Kurdish bloc forms the government.

The current issue: the withdrawal of American troops. Al-Sadr is demanding that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki secure a timetable from the U.S. government for the withdrawal of its forces from Iraq. No wonder al-Sadr would like to have a date certain for the removal of American troops. Despite al-Sadr’s admonition to members of his militia - jaysh al-mahdi (the Mahdi Army) - the group has been marginalized by the recent troop surge. American and Iraqi forces entered the Sadrist stronghold of Sadr City and routed out weapons caches and suspected militia leaders, a move that was a condition for Americans to continue to support al-Maliki. Combined with a recent cabinet reshuffle in which al-Sadr’s influence has been reduced, the radical cleric fears he may be coming irrelevant.

Muqtada al-Sadr plans to be the major power broker in Iraq. He cannot do that as long as the al-Maliki government is propped up by the presence of almost 150,000 American troops. He thinks it is time for them to go, allowing him a clear shot at running the country.

I have a better idea. It is time for al-Sadr to go. Let me be clear. This man is an enemy of the United States. As I have said many times over for more than three years, we need to find him, and get rid of him – arrest him, exile him or kill him.

Kill him? Isn’t that a bit extreme?

As far as I am concerned, Al-Sadr has the blood of American soldiers on his hands. It is his militia that the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force supplied with advanced munitions that have killed our troops. Last week he exhorted his followers to attack “your archenemy- the Americans.” He also called on the Iraqi army and police to join him in “defeating the Americans.” That, in my mind, makes him an enemy - he should be dealt with accordingly. (See my earlier article, Muqtada al-Sadr – a problem not solved)

Al-Sadr’s demands present a dilemma for American senators and representatives who favor putting a withdrawal date in the supplemental defense budget bill current under discussion. Now joining Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is His Eminence Sayyid Hujjat al-Islam Muqtada al-Sadr. I can see the posters now:
This may also present an opportunity for the “withdrawal date” crowd to change their positions, citing al-Sadr’s demand for the withdrawal as the reason they have changed their minds. Otherwise, they are playing right into the hands of the enemy.