“Mooqie” al-Sadr on Verge of Toppling Iraq?

May 2, 2016 - Washington, DC – PipeLineNews.org – Unreported by just about the entirely of the media [unless you make the exception of the coverage at the late William Kristol Sr's. clown publication, The National Interest], the Iraqi government is on the verge of a total collapse and Team Obama is actively reviewing plans to abandon the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

That all of this is taking place at the hands of long-time Shia jihadi - Muqtada al-Sadr - who should have been “terminated with great prejudice” even before the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom - as he continues to exert the raw political power he has wielded for over a decade presents a case study in why it’s morally and strategically indefensible to prosecute wars in a half-assed way.

In his latest move, Sadr [who often retreats to the “holy” city of Qom, Iran when the going gets a bit rough] has organized a series of protests inside what is supposed to be Baghdad’s most highly secured area, established by the U.S. Coalition Forces and known as the Green Zone. Working out of a huge tent city, these demonstrations which have already forced the Abadi government to reshuffle its cabinet now threaten its very existence.

Key takeaways here are that in the Middle East there are no such things as secure areas and that compromise is simply a waypoint on the path to the final bloodletting.

From the reliably excellent, Institute for the Study of War:

“[the] situation is unstable enough to put the U.S. Embassy on alert, and the U.S. must prepare a contingency plan in case the situation spirals out of control. Iraq’s political crisis has reached dangerous new heights that pose a serious threat to the stability of the government, and in the worst case scenario could also threaten U.S. forces. Negotiations will continue among political leaders and the current unrest is likely to reduce as the initial rioting burns out. Nevertheless, if the political blocs cannot come to an agreement, or if violence or an ISIS spectacular attack against the demonstrators occurs, the situation could collapse even further. The U.S. must be prepared for the worst case scenario that sees the political crisis leading to violence in Baghdad and the potential collapse of PM Abadi’s government and deploy diplomatic or military assets in order to mitigate the possibility of an even more disastrous state of affairs.” [source, Sadr Attempts a De-Facto Coup in Iraq, Institute for the Study of War - ISW]

Actually the situation could not be more dire, ISIS – despite Pollyannaish reports to the contrary, is neither dead nor is it dying, though it has suffered setbacks a fact which is unremarkable given its rapid and nearly unopposed rise – undefeated and certainly unbowed has merely shuffled its forces around the new hotspots and has actually consolidated its power within Syria and placed itself in a more advantageous position to grow its ranks from mujahideen as they flee smaller, less well financed and organized Sunni jihadi groups.

Below from a Stanford University analytical paper:

“ISIS must balance its expanding activities in central and western Syria with the requirements of its ongoing defensive operations in northern and eastern Syria. ISIS escalation in central Syria may invite opportunistic or retributive counterattacks against ISIS forces in northern and eastern Syria by either YPG or Syrian regime forces. ISIS must maintain stable defensive lines in order to protect core ISIS interests in both Syria and Iraq. These include cross-border smuggling routes into Turkey, ground lines of communication connecting ISIS in Syria to ISIS in northern and western Iraq, and ultimately the de facto ISIS capital city of al-Raqqa. ISIS appears to calculate that it is possible to maintain this defense by leveraging rebel defections to ISIS to offset the resource requirements of expansion into the central corridor. ISIS therefore prioritizes changing the calculus of rebel groups to favor ISIS expansion, and does so by disrupting the existing security environment. ISIS will likely also leverage its operations against the regime to curry favor with rebel groups, who may opt to facilitate increased ISIS activity in western Syria if directed against the Syrian regime. This expansion into western Syria will present a challenge to the anti-ISIS coalition, as it will likely to be unwilling to or unable to target ISIS positions inside core Syrian terrain.” [source, Madhi Army]

Conclusion:

Obama’s disastrous pullout from Iraq absent a Status of Forces Agreement continues to be the gift that keeps giving to all manner of fanatical Islamic terror groups throughout the region. There are many working pieces to this puzzle but two remain key:

1. The unelected chameleon Muqtada al-Sadr [who comes from a long line of “religious” leaders to whom secularism was anathema] is the de-facto leader of the rapidly disintegrating Iraqi civil government.

2. Iraq’s current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is not especially fond of the Iranian Theocracy in general and holds a personal grudge against one of the country’s key power-players, Major-General Qassem Soleimani, who commands Iran’s Quds Force [the most elite brigade in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard]. But that entire calculus changes now that Mooqie is essentially calling many of the shots in Iraq almost guaranteeing that Iran’s [already considerable] sphere of influence will continue to grow unopposed, especially since it seems to have the tacit backing of the Obama administration.

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