Friday, June 20, 2008

The Last Iranian & Sadrist Bastions Fall Without A Fight

Maysan Province, and its capital city of Amarah, were a hotbed of Iranian and Sadrist activity - until a few days ago. Now the city mayor is in jail, the Iraqi military partol the streets, and the "Iranian agents" have gone back towards Tehran. It has all occurred without a shot being fired. This is front page news in the UK Times while our perfidious MSM buries the news and what little it reports, it does so from the Sadrist / Iranian perspective.


This from Bill Rogio at the LWJ yesterday:

The Iraqi security forces today formally kicked off the operations against the Mahdi Army in the southern province of Maysan. On the day the government's amnesty offer expired, the Iraqi Army and police conducted multiple raids throughout Amarah, the provincial capital. A senior Sadrist was detained during the raids.

Iraqi forces arrested Rafeaa Jabar, the head of the Sadrist office in Maysan province. He is the mayor of Amarah and the deputy governor of the province.

. . . There have been no reports of major clashes or opposition to the Iraqi operations. Dozens of wanted individuals have been detained and large quantities of weapons have been found during the operation. Sixty "militiamen" surrendered during the amnesty period. A partial curfew has been imposed on some regions.

While the operation officially kicked off today, the Iraqi security forces have been operating in force throughout Maysan since last Saturday, when patrols and raids began in Amarah. Security forces began massing in Amarah last Thursday and Iraqi soldiers replaced border guards along the Iranian border.

A flurry of activity occurred in Amarah on June 18. Iraqi soldiers captured three wanted during an air assault in central Amarah. Twelve policemen were detained for storing weapons and explosives in a jail in the city. Iraqi forces also found a large weapons cache in a cemetery in central Amara.

Iraqi security forces have also stepped up security in the neighboring provinces of Dhi Qhar and Wasit. In Wasit province, which borders Amarah to the north, security officials said "tight security measures" have been imposed to assist in the Maysan operation. On June 18, police seized a car "laden with 27 Iranian-made bombs" and detained the driver. Coalition forces detained three more Mahdi Army operatives in Al Kut on June 17. The US military has captured 12 mid-level and senior Mahdi Army leaders in Wasit province since June 3.

The Mahdi Army has pushed back in Wasit province. A district police chief and another officer were killed and 10 policemen were wounded in an IED attack on June 17.

In Dhi Qhar, which borders Maysan to the south, provincial officials said operations are under way to support the Maysan offensive. "A detailed plan has been established in the province to maintain stability during the expected drive into Maysan province," Staff Brigadier General Sabah al Fatlawi, the provincial chief of police, told Voices of Iraq. Police found a large cache of TNT during a raid in northern Dhi Qhar on June 18.

Read the entire article. When you hear the words "Iraqi" and "air assault" together in the same sentence, it should do your heart good. Helicopter borne air assault missions are not rocket science, but they do require a measure of competence at multiple levels and across multiple units to be able to pull off. I dare say the Iraqi military's professionalism seems to be increasing sharply. And then there is this, also from LWJ, today:

The Iraqi security forces have detained five senior Sadrist leaders and a department director in Masyan province during Operation Promise of Peace. The Mahdi Army, the armed wing of the Sadrist movement, has not put up any opposition to the government’s efforts to secure Maysan, a Sadrist stronghold on the Iranian border.

Iraqi forces are conducting a series of raids in Amarah and throughout the southern province, "capturing key targets including government officials wanted by the authorities in a number of cases," said Brigadier General Abdul Karim Khalaf, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior.

"Five officials from the provincial council who represent the Sadr movement have been arrested for aiding the militia," Mahdi al Asadi, the spokesman for the Maysan police told AFP. Iraqi forces detained the mayor of Amarah and the deputy governor yesterday.

Iraqi forces also detainedEngineer Mohammed Nouri, the provincial director of the irrigation projects department after discovering "amounts of weapons and ammunitions hidden in one of the department’s stores," an anonymous source told Voices of Iraq.

Thirty-one "wanted men" have been detained since the operation was kicked off in Amarah yesterday. Five Mahdi Army fighters surrendered to the security forces. More than 60 "militiamen" surrendered during the amnesty period.

Several large weapons caches and a command and control center have also been uncovered in the province. "A militia headquarters was seized by Iraqi Security Forces after a weapons cache was discovered containing 676 mines, 249 mortar rounds, 241 rocket-propelled grenades and four homemade-rocket launchers," Multinational Forces Iraq reported. "In operations surrounding Amarah, a total of 273 mortar rounds were discovered, along with numerous other accelerants."

. . . The Mahdi Army has not fought back as Sadrist leaders and Mahdi Army commanders and fighters are rounded up in Amarah, Khalaf said.

The Mahdi Army took heavy casualties while opposing the Iraqi security forces in Basrah and the South and US and Iraqi forces in Sadr City during operations to secure the areas in March, April, and May. More than 1,000 Mahdi Army fighters were killed in Sadr City alone, and another 415 were killed in Basrah. Several hundred were killed during fighting in the southern cities of Najaf, Karbala, Hillah, Diwaniyah, Amarah, Samawah, and Nasiriyah.

The Mahdi Army and the Sadrist movement have been relegated to complaining about the actions of the security forces.

. . . The Iraqi security forces will expand its operations right along the Iranian border in an attempt to disrupt the Mahdi Army supply lines from Iran. "The operations would include a drive into Marshes area where important targets are hiding."

The push into the Marshes comes as the Iraqi security forces have ramped up operations in neighboring Basrah, Wasit and Dhi Qhar provinces.

Amarah is a strategic hub for Iranian operations in southern Iraq

Maysan province is a strategic link for the Ramazan Corps, the Iranian military command set up by Qods Force to direct operations inside Iraq. Amarah serves as the Qods Force—Ramazan Corps forward command and control center inside Iraq as well as one of the major distribution points for weapons in southern Iraq. . . .

Read the entire article. And this is how it was reported in the UK's Times:

They came at dawn, thousands of Iraqi troops and US special forces on a mission to reclaim a lawless city from the militias who ran it.

By the end of the day, al-Amarah was under Iraqi Government control - without a shot being fired.

The city had been taken over by the Shia al-Mahdi Army two years ago after British troops handed it to an ill-prepared Iraqi Army. “We can't say al-Amarah was entirely bad, there are good people here, poor people. But the city was controlled by the al-Mahdi Army, and these people are all backed by Iran,” said Captain Hussein Ali of the Scorpion police brigade, one of the Iraqi units drafted in to take part in Operation Omen of Peace.

Yesterday the city's streets - unpaved, dirt tracks between grubby, low brick houses - were crawling with Iraqi security forces. Soldiers searched houses as police manned checkpoints and Soviet-era tanks guarded bridges over the Tigris River.

The flood of troops, who had moved into position outside the city a week ago, had encountered no resistance as they moved in yesterday. The leaders of the Shia militias that once ruled as crime bosses and warlords were either gone or in hiding. Even the police chief fled a week ago, fearing arrest for his affiliation to al-Mahdi Army, while the mayor, a member of the Sadrist movement, was arrested.

Outside one of the long-neglected police bases built by the British Army, scores crowded to sign up as police officers, the only regular job in a city whose main industry is weapons smuggling from nearby Iran, but a profession that until now was closed to most.

“In the past, you needed contacts with the tribal sheikhs or to pay three million dinars in bribes to get a job as a policeman,” said Raed Mijbil, 30. “All the Iraqi security forces were corrupt.”

Nouri al-Maliki, the Shia Prime Minister, has insisted that his large-scale operations in the south are not targeting the Sadrist movement, which has been increasingly weakened by internal divisions, its brutal reputation for murder and extortion, and a more confident Iraqi military. Hojatoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr, the fundamentalist Shia cleric who heads the al-Mahdi Army and the Sadrist political movement, ordered his men not to resist the government forces, and a senior member of his parliamentary block expressed grudging support.

“We stand with the Government on imposing the law and we are showing goodwill,” said Bahaa al-Araji, a member of the Sadrist parliamentary bloc. “But law must be imposed on everybody. We hope the target of the plan is not our movement.”

Locals said that militiamen had been spotted throwing their weapons into the Tigris or trying to hide them along the lush river banks. One man said that he saw two women digging up a stash hidden by a fighter and taking them into a weapons collection point in the hope of a reward.

. . . While the Prime Minister had personally to lead his shaky forces on the offensive in Basra, he and his army have gained in confidence since establishing control of the southern port city, even flooding the Sadr City stronghold in Baghdad with thousands of soldiers. For the first time in years the young cleric looks unsure of himself. Last week he announced that the main wing of al-Mahdi Army would devote itself to civilian projects, while a streamlined, smaller group would carry on attacking the US military, whom the demagogue deems a legitimate target for resistance.

Nabil Ibrahim, 20, an al-Amarah resident, was pleased to see the influx of government troops but upset that the men who had turned his city into a lawless no man's land had escaped. “The leaders who escaped aren't all al-Mahdi Army, they are Iranian intelligence agents. We are sad because they got away and they'll be back.”

Captain Ali denied that the criminal leaders had been allowed to get away. “We didn't just let them escape, this was a kind of amnesty. This was a last chance for those who were misled by the militias and regretted it,” he said. He said that the local population was co-operating with the security sweep, and that the army had found more than 900 roadside bombs in weapons stashes.

Read the entire article. So how does our perfidious press play up what is exceptionally good news. Wapo runs a short story on page A-13, prominently noting that the Sadrists are claiming that the arrest of the Mayor is purely a political ploy The NYT gives this similar treatment in tone and length, reporting the news from the Sadrist/Iranian perspective.

1 comment:

dave in boca said...

Actually, a moron oxymoronically named "Rich" brought up our progress in Iraq, but lamented in his Op-Ed piece the dearth of pictures of dead American GIs. This in Pravda on the Hudson.

"Perfidious" is a weak word that should be replaced by "treacherous" or "traitorous," actually both fit rich & the NYT exactly.