April 14, 2008

Petraeus using the ‘Battle for Basra’ as a preliminary to an attack Iran.

There have been few analyzes concerning the events leading up to the ‘battle for basra’ primarily, it has to be suspected, because the attack was such a surprise. "Mystery surrounds Mr Maliki's motive in launching an assault on the Mehdi Army after Mr Sadr renewed his six-month ceasefire last month." (Patrick Cockburn ‘Iraqi Police Refuse to Back Maliki's Attacks on Mehdi Army’ http://www.counterpunch.com/patrick03292008.html March 29/30, 2008). Hindsight suggests the primary force behind these events seems to have been general david petraeus, the likudnik dominated bush regime’s political commissar in the american military.

Events leading up to the attacks on the Green Zone.
For the last year or so, petraeus has been condemning iran for funding, training, and arming, ‘rogue elements of the mahdi army’. "The idea of Iranian-backed "rogue" Shi'ite militia groups undermining Sadr's efforts to pursue a more moderate course was introduced by the U.S. military command in early 2007. These alleged Iranian proxies were called "Special Groups", a term that came not from Iran or the Shi'ites themselves but from the Bush administration." (Gareth Porter ‘Petraeus Testimony to Defend False 'Proxy War' Line’ http://www.antiwar.com/porter/?articleid=12649 April 8, 2008).

At the beginning of march 2008 the iranian president, mahmoud ahmadinejad, made a historic visit to iraq where he was given a warm welcome by the iraqi president al-maliki. At that point in time, it seemed inconceivable that a few weeks later maliki, an iranian ally, would suddenly announce the launch of a military offensive against the mahdi army, also allied to iran. Iran has been trying to keep the shia community unified and would have been appalled by conflicts within that community.

In mid-march 2008, fallon was forced to resign. Doubtlessly cheney and general petraeus immediately start working out a new strategy for the american military in iraq. Petraeus could promote his own objectives within the american military: curbing the alleged rogue elements of the mahdi army which he’d complained about so often in the past. Dick cheney announced he would be going on a tour of the middle east. This was unlikely to have been a coincidence. In baghdad cheney announced that provincial elections would be held in iraq in october 2008. One commentator believes cheney had to compel agreement from maliki, "According to Leila Fadel of the McClatchy newspaper chain, when Vice-President Dick Cheney visited Iraq Mar. 17-18, he "strong armed" Iraq's Presidency Council into passing a provincial election law. The law sets up an October election in which the various provinces will vote on whether they want to remain a unified country or splinter into separate provinces." (Conn Hallinan ‘Ignition Point? Another Defining Moment in Iraq’ http://www.counterpunch.com/hallinan04122008.html April 12/13, 2008).

It is also likely that cheney pressured maliki into agreeing that the iraqi army would take decisive action, with the backing of the american military, against the mahdi army. "The hardline US vice-president, Dick Cheney, was in Baghdad two weeks earlier and may well have urged Maliki to go ahead." (Jonathan Steele ‘In backing the Basra assault, the US has only helped Sadr’ http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/apr/04/usa.iraq April 04 2008).

Was Iran behind attacks on the Green Zone?
In february 2007, moqtada al-sadr had ordered the mahdi army to stand down and, in august, to desist from any militarily action for six months. Sadr ".. stood down the Mehdi Army in February (2007) at the start of the US "surge", and in September, when he declared a six-month ceasefire after fighting with the police and Badr Organisation during the 15 Shaaban pilgrimage to Karbala." (Patrick Cockburn ‘Warlord: The rise of Muqtada al-Sadr’ http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/warlord-the-rise-of-muqtada-alsadr-807698.html April 11, 2008). Nevertheless, both the american and iraqi militaries continued harassing and arresting members of the mahdi army. "According to a senior Sadrist parliamentarian, between 2,000 and 2,500 Mahdi Army militiamen had been detained since Sadr declared a cease-fire last August." (Gareth Porter ‘Sadr Offensive Shows Failure of Petraeus Strategy’ http://www.antiwar.com/porter/?articleid=12589 March 27, 2008). Despite these attacks, last month sadr renewed his stance for another six month period.

It is possible that by march 23, 2008 sadr had had enough of maliki’s and america’s military attacks on his supporters and ordered retaliation against the green zone. Sadr may have acted alone but is it possible iran encouraged such a response? Perhaps iran, noting fallon’s resignation, petraeus’s newly established dominance over the american military, cheney’s tour of the middle east, and the increased attacks on the mahdi army, concluded that the americans were trying to clear the way for an attack on iran. It is possible iran encouraged the mahdi army to bombard the green zone as a warning to the americans not to attack iran.

On the other hand, there is considerable evidence to suggest iran had nothing to do with the attacks on the green zone. Firstly, it would have meant that one set of iranian allies was attacking another i.e. the iraqi government. "Suleimani's role in reducing the violence in Basra underlines the reality that Iranian power in Shi'ite Iraq is based on its having worked with and provided assistance to all the Shi'ite parties and factions. Iran's determination to stay on good terms with all the Shi'ite factions has made it the primary arbiter of conflicts among them. Iran has no reason to look for a small splinter group to advance its interests when it already enjoys a relationship of strategic cooperation with the government itself." (Gareth Porter ‘Petraeus Testimony to Defend False 'Proxy War' Line’ http://www.antiwar.com/porter/?articleid=12649 April 8, 2008). Secondly, whilst the battle for basra was in progress, iran insisted the two sides should stop fighting. See section 226. Iran demands an end to fighting in Iraq - March 29, 2008. Thirdly, it then negotiated an agreement between them to restore some peace and stability to iraq. Finally, it condemned the attacks on the green zone. "Iran's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday condemned for the first time rocket and mortar attacks against the U.S.-controlled Green Zone in Baghdad by supporters of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. However, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini also denounced raids by U.S. forces against Sadr City, a sprawling Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad that al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia has been using to launch the attacks." (Nasser Karimi ‘Iran Condemns Iraq Green Zone Attacks’ http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2008/04/08/international/i041756D74.DTL April 8, 2008).

These factors strongly suggest firstly, that iran had not wanted to use the mahdi army to threaten the american military and, secondly, that iran had the most to lose from a civil war between shiites. Conversely, it was much more likely that it was america which sought the confrontation. After all, america was one of the participants in the battle and didn’t want the conflict to end. And, consequently, it did nothing to contribute to negotiations between the two sides.

Who initiated the attack on the Mahdi Army?
After the bombardment of the green zone, it seemed as if maliki suddenly ordered the iraqi army to crush the mahdi army. It is possible he made this decision himself. But, there are many factors suggesting it is much more likely that petraeus, with the backing of the bush regime, was responsible for initiating and planning for the attack.

* with fallon out of the way petraeus had the opportunity to increase attacks on the alleged ‘rogue elements of the mahdi army’. This forced the mahdi army to respond with a bombardment of the green zone. Such a response was precisely the sort of opportunity petraeus had been waiting for to launch a decisive attack on the mahdi army.

* petraeus and cheney must have known that the biggest beneficiary of provincial elections in iraq in october 2008 would be moqtada al-sadr. This led them to conclude that thet would have to severely curb, if not destroy, sadr’s military and political prospects to ensure he couldn’t get elected to a position of power where he could oppose america’s long term occupation of iraq.

* given the successes of the american/iraqi army attacks on the mahdi army since august 2007, petraeus may have believed a quick military victory over the mahdi army was possible and that this would boost his stature when giving testimony to congress on april 08, 2008. "They (crocker and petraeus) hoped for a triumph to boast about in Congress. Now they must explain a disaster." (Jonathan Steele ‘In backing the Basra assault, the US has only helped Sadr’ http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/apr/04/usa.iraq April 04 2008).

* petraeus could spin the conflict against the mahdi army to insist that reductions in the size of the american military in iraq should be stopped.

* no sooner had moqtada al sadr’s mahdi army attacked the green zone, march 23 2008, than petraeus was ready and waiting to denounce iran for supplying the mahdi army with weapons. "In remarks interpreted as signalling a change in his approach to Iran, Gen Petraeus last week hit out at the Iranian leadership. "The rockets that were launched at the Green Zone were Iranian-provided, Iranian-made rockets," he said." (Damien McElroy ‘British fear US commander is beating the drum for Iran strikes’ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/04/05/wiran105.xml April 05, 2008). Petraeus’s efforts to stir up accusations against iran seem to suggest that his primary objective was not just an attack on an alleged iranian allies in iraq but a proxy war against iran. "British officials gave warning yesterday that America's commander in Iraq will declare that Iran is waging war against the US-backed Baghdad government. A strong statement from General David Petraeus about Iran's intervention in Iraq could set the stage for a US attack on Iranian military facilities, according to a Whitehall assessment. In closely watched testimony in Washington next week, Gen Petraeus will state that the Iranian threat has risen as Tehran has supplied and directed attacks by militia fighters against the Iraqi state and its US allies." (Damien McElroy ‘British fear US commander is beating the drum for Iran strikes’ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/04/05/wiran105.xml April 05, 2008); "The neocons may yet get their war on Iran. Ever since President Nouri al-Maliki ordered the attacks in Basra on the Mahdi Army, Gen. David Petraeus has been laying the predicate for U.S. air strikes on Iran and a wider war in the Middle East. Courtesy of Congress, Bush thus has a blank check for war on Iran. And the signs are growing that he intends to fill it in and cash it." (Patrick J. Buchanan ‘Petraeus Points to War With Iran’ http://www.antiwar.com/pat/?articleid=12673 April 11, 2008). There are commentators who dispute whether fallon’s resignation was brought about by differences of opinion with the bush regime over iraq or iran. Another possibility is that it was about both. If the american military could dismantle the mahdi army, it would face less of a threat from iran’s allies in iraq if the bush regime launched a military attack on iran.

* bush had been well-prepped about the objectives of the attack on the mahdi army and made a series of dramatic announcements about the iraqi military’s impending victory. "At the start of the military offensive launched last week into Basra by US-trained Iraqi army forces, President Bush called the action by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki "a bold decision." He added: "I would say this is a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq."" (Robert Dreyfuss ‘The Lessons of Basra’ http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080414/dreyfuss March 31, 2008).

* the bush regime wanted to wrest control over southern iraq’s oil from the mahdi army. This provides sadr with an income in the region of $2bn a year .. "the Mahdi Army is siphoning off a good $2 bn. a year in embezzled gasoline and kerosene …" (Juan Cole ‘5 US Troops Die in Iraq’ http://www.juancole.com/2008_04_01_juancole_archive.html April 07, 2008).

It has been concluded, "It is increasingly obvious that the White House planned the entire operation." (Conn Hallinan ‘Ignition Point? Another Defining Moment in Iraq’ http://www.counterpunch.com/hallinan04122008.html April 12/13, 2008).

A number of commentators have speculated that maliki was responsible for initiating the plan to attack the mahdi army. "The most likely explanation is that the Americans approved the assault, confidently expecting it would succeed within a few days." (Jonathan Steele ‘In backing the Basra assault, the US has only helped Sadr’ http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/apr/04/usa.iraq April 04 2008). However, it is unlikely that maliki would have supported the idea before the bush regime announced the date of provincial elections. Another commentator implied maliki had so much military power at his disposal that he could even ignore the views of the american military. "Not a very good performance, to be sure, (the iraqi army’s attack on the mahdi army) and Maliki's American sponsors were clearly perturbed that he went ahead with this operation without consulting them first." (Justin Raimondo ‘Endless Enemies’ http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=12663 April 9, 2008). It is unlikely that maliki initiated the attack and it borders on the absurd to believe he could order the iraqi military to carry out a full scale military attack without telling the americans.

Once the date for elections had been announced maliki acquired his own incentives to weaken sadr’s militia, both militarily and politically, before the october 2008 provincial elections. "A likely explanation is (for maliki’s assault on basra) that Mr Maliki, who has little support outside the holy city of Kerbala, was under pressure from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), his main ally, to attack the Sadrists now. The Sadrists were expected to do well against ISCI in provincial elections which are to be held in October ..." (Patrick Cockburn ‘Iraqi Police Refuse to Back Maliki's Attacks on Mehdi Army’ http://www.counterpunch.com/patrick03292008.html March 29/30, 2008). Maliki, like the americans, also had an incentive to wrest control of southern iraq’s oil from the mahdi army. The badr militia may also have been willing to support the attack in order to dispose of a major rival militia and to gain some influence over the country’s oil industry.

The failure of the Battle for Basra.
Both maliki and the americans were expecting an easy victory in the so-called battle for basra. Both were taken aback that the mahdi army was able to repulse their attacks. Petraeus may have been misled by his own propaganda and misjudged the mahdi army’s military capabilities. He’d been complaining for over a year about iran training and arming rogue elements of the mahdi army when, in reality, it had been training the core of the mahdi army. "Based on preliminary indications of his spin on the surprisingly effective armed resistance to the joint U.S.-Iraqi Operation Knights Assault in Basra, Petraeus will testify that it was caused by Iran through a group of rogue militiamen who had split off from Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and came under Iranian control. But the U.S. military's contention that "rogue elements" have been carrying out the resistance to coalition forces was refuted by Sadr himself in an interview with al-Jazeera aired March 29 in which he called for the release from U.S. detention of the individual previously identified by Petraeus as the head of the alleged breakaway faction." (Gareth Porter ‘Petraeus Testimony to Defend False 'Proxy War' Line’ http://www.antiwar.com/porter/?articleid=12649 April 8, 2008).

Secondly, petraeus suspected that the reason sadr had ordered the mahdi army to abide by a ceasefire in august 2007 was because it was on the verge of defeat. In reality moqtada was simply trying to strengthen its military capabilities. "That assumption ignored the evidence that Sadr had been avoiding major combat because he was in the process of reorganizing and rebuilding the Mahdi Army into a more effective force. Thousands of Mahdi Army fighters, including top commanders, were sent to Iran for training, not as "rogue element," as suggested by the U.S. command, but with Sadr's full support. One veteran Mahdi Army fighter who had undergone such training told The Independent last April that the retraining was "part of a new strategy. We know we are against a strong enemy and we must learn proper methods and techniques."" (Gareth Porter ‘Embarrassed US Starts to Disown Basra Operation’ http://www.antiwar.com/porter/?articleid=12613 April 01, 2008).

The mahdi army and iran have benefited considerably, both politically and militarily, from their victories in the battle for basra – at least temporarily. Everyone now knows it would take the american and iraqi militaries an enormous military effort to defeat the mahdi army. This effort may be beyond america’s current military capabilities. This failure has two major implications. Firstly, the americans now realize that the mahdi army would pose a formidable threat against the american military in iraq if the bush regime decided to attack iran. This would seem to suggest there is now much less likelihood of an american military attack on iran. After all, if the american military can’t defeat the mahdi army just how is it going to cope with iran’s vastly larger military forces? And, secondly, the iraqi oil industry in southern iraq will continue to remain under sadr’s control.

Both Petraeus and Maliki determined to gamble on their Losses.
Despite the calamity of the battle in basra, neither petraeus nor maliki have shown any sign of abandoning their goals. They both seem to believe that a bigger military effort will succeed in destroying the mahdi army. Maliki has inducted the badr militia into the iraqi army and imposed a tribal levy in order to raise a new militia composed of tens of thousands of shiites who are fearful of the mahdi army.

Petraeus has been hyping up his proposition that iran is arming rogue elements of the mahdi army by alleging that iranians were fighting alongside the mahdi army in basra. "Iranian forces were involved in the recent battle for Basra, General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, is expected to tell Congress this week. Military and intelligence sources believe Iranians were operating at a tactical command level with the Shi’ite militias fighting Iraqi security forces; some were directing operations on the ground, they think. Petraeus intends to use the evidence of Iranian involvement to argue against any reductions in US forces." (Sarah Baxter and Marie Colvin ‘Iran joined militias in battle for Basra’ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article3690010.ece April 6, 2008).

Juan cole scoffs at the idea. "But that Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei of Iran deliberately sent Iranian troops or agents into Basra to undermine ISCI, Badr, and al-Maliki's Da'wa (Islamic Missionary) Party on behalf of the Sadr Movement just strikes me as daft. It flies in the face of everything else we know about the relationship of these groups with Iran. In fact, the Iranian leadership benefits from a united Iraqi Shiite community and the head of the Expediency Council, Akbar Rafsanajani, expressed concern about the faction-fighting among Iraqi Shiites. Iran brokered the cease-fire. If it wanted Shiite on Shiite fighting, why would it do that?" (Juan Cole ‘5 US Troops Die in Iraq’ http://www.juancole.com/2008_04_01_juancole_archive.html April 07, 2008).

The bush regime and the american military must have been shocked to find that iran had secretly negotiated a truce behind their backs as if they were just some bit players in an iranian soap. So the american military has taken a much more prominent role in the continuing attacks on the mahdi army since the end of the battle for basra. "This week, it transformed into a conflict largely between the Mahdi Army and U.S. forces. Twelve U.S. troops were killed since Sunday, at least eight of them in the capital, several of them from rocket and mortar attacks into the Green Zone." (Leila Fadel ‘As Petraeus testifies, Baghdad teeters on edge of erupting’ http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20080408/wl_mcclatchy/2903213 April 08, 2008).

America being pushed into another Proxy Zionist War.
The american and iraqi militaries wanted to defeat the mahdi army to establish their dominance over southern iraq. If this attack had been successful it would also have opened up the prospect for an attack on iran. It is possible the american and iraqi militaries’ objective was solely confined to overcoming the mahdi army in southern iraq and had no secondary interest in preparing for an attack on iran. However, it is much more than likely that this was not just an incidental, secondary goal but its prime purpose.

Jewish Nazis pushing America into World War Three.
An american attack on iran is not merely likely to provoke a war with iran it could trigger a wider american war against other countries in the middle east. In other words, world war three. The more absurd that the proposal for an american attack on iran becomes, the more the jewish neocons around the world demand world war three!

Roberts argues the ‘war on terror’ is just a likudnik front for the jewish theft of land and resources from palestinians, lebanese, and syrians. ""Finishing the job" means to destroy the ability of Iraq, Iran, and Syria to provide support for the Palestinians and for Hezbollah in southern Lebanon against Israeli aggression. With Iraq and Iran in turmoil, Syria might simply give up and become another American client state. With Iraq and Iran in turmoil, Israel can steal the rest of the West Bank along with the water resources in southern Lebanon. That is what "the war on terror" is really about." (Paul Craig Roberts ‘Petraeus Testimony May Signal Iran Attack’ http://www.antiwar.com/roberts/?articleid=12644 April 7, 2008). Jewish lobbies in the western world are solely concerned with provoking a third world war in order to boost jewish supremacism in the middle east no matter what a catastrophe this would be militarily, politically and economically, for the west.

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