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Do You Agree With the US Approach to al-Sadr?

Yesterday, hard-line Shiite cleric and leader of the Mahdi Army militia, Muqtada al-Sadr threatened to declare war on the US and Iraqi forces, unless they ended their crackdown on his followers.

Al-Sadr renounced Secretary Condoleezza Rice's surprise visit to Iraq as the entrance of terrorists. Rice dismissed the man as a coward, mocking him:

I guess it's all-out war for anybody but him. I guess that's the message; his followers can go to their deaths, and he's in Iran.

Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki, also a Shiite, is demanding that al-Sadr disband the Mahdi army, or face the disqualification of al-Sadr followers from elections this fall. Thus, the anti-American cleric is accusing the Iraqi government of exploiting his truce to stifle his political influence.

Al-Sadr's power lies in his control of the militia, which led four deadly rebellions against US forces in 2004. But, his followers also control 30 of the 275 Iraqi parliament seats. Last August, he declared a unilateral truce, contributing to reduced violence in Iraq.

Meanwhile, military clashes accompany the tense rhetoric. The US maintains that the Basra military campaign — which al-Maliki commenced without the US and that resulted in 40 militia deaths just yesterday — is not aimed at the mainstream Sadrist movement, but against criminals and Iranian-backed extremist groups.


Join The Conversation
zeze zeze 9 years
Auntie Coosa, the problem is that so many people don't know anything beyond the stereo types in the evening news - at least you admit that you don't have all the answers and are not trying to run two countries based on those misconceptions (which they are, IMHO). The problem is when we have people in power who don't do any research beyond what's in the evening news and feel its okay to use this wrong and limited power to cause billion dollar wars that cost thousands of lives. I sure as heck don't know all about this topic or anything close to that, I just like to READ about the middle east, from MANY MANY sources and know people with first hand experiences on both sides of this war. Sometimes I feel our government, when they make comments like Condie, doesn't even bother doing that, and if they are reading, then I am even more confused, because their actions HURT US A LOT MORE than the enemy.
Auntie-Coosa Auntie-Coosa 9 years
zeze have you written that to your Congress people? Sounds as if you know what's goin' down. I see as Sadr as just another bully with a grenade launcher. But I don't pretend to understand Muslim thought processes other than it's okay to lie and steal and kill if it's done to promote Islam. THAT I understand.
zeze zeze 9 years
I won't get into what Al-Sadr's points are and whether he has any good points, because frankly, I don't know enough about that. What I do know for certain is that the US NEEDS TO BECAREFUL! Al-Sadr is very popular in Iraq, Iraqis LOVED HIS FATHER, he was seen as a great religious and humanitarian figure, always fighting for the poor, opposing Saddam when no one else did. He, and his son and son-in-law, I believe were murdered by Saddam for their opposition. Regardless of whether the people of Iraq agree or not with Al-Sadr, which they may (since his position is the US has spread terrorism in Iraq and purposely mishandled Iraq to round the terrorists up there and serve their interests while disregarding the Iraqi people) Iraqis will support him for the legacy of his family in the country. Secondly, Iraqis do not see him as a terrorist, even the ones upset at him see him as fighting the good fight, but going about it in a wrong matter, and when push comes to shove, they will support him. he has a good reputation for helping the poor and supporting the weak. THIS IS THE LAST THING THE US NEEDS - An uprising of the people supporting chaotic militias, each with their own sense of justice. We can't make this look like Saddam taking out his father, that would really make this mess 1000 times worse. My view is the US needs to step back and not attack him, instead they need to address that his "manner" NOT HIM is the problem, they need to show that his militia is out of control (from what I know, whenever his followers do something bad, like killing innocent women for dress codes and that sort, Iraqis, and there is truth to this, it is not him, it is street thugs fighting in his name and he is not responsible for them). The US needs to use this to their advantage, tell Al-Sadr and the people that Al-Sadr has a point, get in their good graces, agree with him that too many are dying and changes need to be made - DO NOT MAKE HIM THE ENEMY, IT WILL BACK FIRE. We need to use the fact that everyone hates the chaos of militias fulfilling their own justice. wow, sorry, that was long, but, my two cents!
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
In this case I do not think that the U.S. should really have any direct diplomatic involvement with Al Sadr. This is Prime Minister Al Malikis internal problem not ours. Since the Prime Minister is on diplomatic terms with Iran and there is a suspected connection between Iran and Sadr he would be in a much better position to negotiate and make demands. Secretary Rice mincing words with Al Sadr is only going to make things worse and add to the antagonistic atmosphere.
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
I third nyaradzom2001.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
Thanks, guys! :)
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
I second that thorswitch.
thorswitch thorswitch 9 years
Well said, Jillness
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
i agree with undave that it's hard to reason with someone like him. but i also think that Condoleeza's comment was a little brash! it was sort of like egging him on!
stephley stephley 9 years
And I'll pay to send one to the State Dept.
springfieldrocks springfieldrocks 9 years
"Let's approach it like chess, not like dodge ball." i think they need to put this on educational posters in the white house...
Jillness Jillness 9 years
"I guess that's the message; his followers can go to their deaths, and he's in Iran." I find this comment from Rice odd. It is because of him that so many people have NOT died since August. He called a ceasefire, and unlike our efforts, it worked. He stopped a huge portion of violence that has been raging since shortly after we invaded 5 years ago. Yes, he and many others are responsible for that violence in the first place, but the fact is somehow he made them think that since August, it is in their best interest not to kill other people. We have to find how that sentiment can exist in this environment, and do it bigger. Maybe there is something we can learn from this man. I am not saying that we need to be his friends or anything. Let's just be smart about how we do this. Let's approach it like chess, not like dodge ball.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
"But how do you reason with a bully?" Some would say the same about the US. I think the first step is hearing what they want straight from them. We can't answer any of the other questions with out that. Working around them will never address the problems that come from them. In negotiations of all kinds, you can find what they want and what you can use to manipulate them just by listening. It is very empowering. It doesn't help strategy to be ignorant of what is honestly going on. I think there are too many opportunities for different factions in Iraq to insert their opinion when speaking on "behalf" of another group.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
But how do you reason with a bully? He is the big fish in a little pond, and doesn't want anything to change. How do we convince him that giving up his power is for the greater good of Iraq, and the good of Iraq will be good for him too.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
He is the Iraqi leader that enabled a cease fire to happen, and he is the force that has caused vast numbers of US trained Iraqi army and policemen to abandon their stations and give up their weapons. I think it is important that we consider what he stands for, because he is obviously speaking for people in the area. We will not be able to resolve what is going on in Iraq with out these people, because they will force their influence through discussion or violence. I do not think it does any good for US officials to belittle and insult these people. Saddam let us invade his country and kill him, rather than admit that he had been boasting about weapons he didn't have.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
I think our "bomb the hell out of anyone we disagree with" approach has worked really well up to now, so why change?
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