Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Iraqi Surge's Purge

INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY Editorial Iraq: Muqtada al-Sadr reportedly flees to Iran in advance of the arrival of American reinforcements, and the head of al-Qaida in Iraq orders a withdrawal from Baghdad. Could it be the surge is already working? The anti-American Shiite cleric, according to Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, has fled his Baghdad stronghold for the more friendly confines of Tehran and is staying there with family, if only temporarily. The reported exodus coincidentally comes in advance of the arrival of U.S. reinforcements as part of an imminent security crackdown in Baghdad and a 72-hour closure of the Iraq-Iran border by Iraqi security forces. It also comes after the easing of special protection of Sadr and his people by the Iraqi government. Sadr is believed to fear for his safety, knowing he will be the target of the crackdown. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki dropped his special protection of the Mahdi army, consenting to the recent arrest of Abdul Hadi al Durraji, Sadr's media director. Some 400 of Sadr's supporters are also in custody. Sadr recently let his representatives in the Iraqi government end their boycott and resume their participation. correspondent Jack Kelly reports that Mahdi army militia stopped wearing their black uniforms; they also hid their weapons and abandoned their checkpoints. Sadr reportedly was going to make a speech Monday in Najaf to mark the anniversary of the bombing of an important Shiite shrine north of Baghdad, but he did not do so. Clearly the rules on the ground and in Baghdad are changing, and Sadr knows it. He has family in Iran, and this reported respite may only be temporary. But we find it curious that it comes at a time of a crackdown and amid reports that many of the weapons used by Iraqi jihadists against U.S. forces are made in Iran. Sadr and his Mahdi army have ties with Iran through Hezbollah, Tehran's puppet army involved in another "civil war" in Lebanon. Just as Iran supports, funds and provides improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other arms to terrorists in Iraq, Hezbollah, founded by Iran in 1982, is its wholly owned subsidiary in Lebanon. The "civil wars" in Iraq and Lebanon are inextricably linked. So far, the surge plan that Bush proposes and the Democrats condemn as "escalation" seems to be working. A military intelligence officer has confirmed to Richard Miniter, editor of Pajamas Media, a report in an Iraqi newspaper that in preparation for reinforcements, al-Qaida in Iraq is re-redeploying its forces. The Iraqi paper al-Sabah reports that Abu Ayyub al-Masri, who replaced Abu Musab al-Zarqawi when we achieved a victory in the war on terror by killing him, has ordered his forces to withdraw to Diyala province, north and east to Baghdad, with the order saying that to remain in Baghdad would be a no-win situation. Muqtada al-Sadr may be coming to the same conclusion.

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