Iraq: A defining moment?

War in Basra… curfews in Baghdad… airstrikes on city centres… then a ceasefire… what on earth happened? As a BBC report said, the Basra operation is an empty vessel – it can be filled with any interpretation you choose. And fill it I will, with interpretations of Iraqi bloggers. Some polarised, some contradictory, but a selection that can fill the gaps that exist in current reports.

But first, if you read no other blog post this week read this

Last of Iraqis gives the definitive guide to the five days of warfare from his view in Baghdad. The post is worth reading in full to get a true understanding of the ferocity of the war. He concludes at the end:

I think AlMaliki and Muqtada had a dispute and they disagreed on something and Muqtada though that he is stronger then AlMaliki wanted to show him that he is the strongest and he is the boss and Muqtada should always obey and fear him…so it's just a show business nothing more, nothing less, and now Muqtada is convinced that Maliki is stronger and AlMaliki also knows that Muqtada can really cause troubles if he wants…it's a children's fight…and now they are back to what they used to be brothers in destroying Iraq and killing Iraqis.

AlMaliki is a joke now…even in the news the presenter was announcing the last news which was about a high ranked Iranian official called AlMaliki “dear and honorable” and she laughed in a sarcastic way.

I'm afraid that the coming days will the worst…I believe there will be so much innocent's blood in the streets.

And on to the analysis…

Nibras Kazimi sees the Basra operation as a glorious victory for the Iraqi government. He writes:

Maliki was a political nobody before he ‘accidentally’ became Prime Minister almost two years ago, but today he is perceived as a statesman commanding a strong and motivated army that can impose law and order on once-powerful forces that have run amuck. If that’s not a benchmark of success, then what is? …

Maliki won, pure and simple. … Maliki’s approach is piece-meal: he’s taken out the intimidation factor that kept much of the Sadrist sway in place and he’s done that by showing them that they are no armed match for a better-disciplined, better-supplied Iraqi Army with plenty of stamina…

Now the Sadrist will have to sway voters their way with words and entreaties, rather than threats and drills. Most of the crime cartels are also on notice that the days of the ‘Wild, Wild South’ are over and there’s a new sheriff in town.

And he spends much of his posts criticising what appears to be every American media outlet for daring to disagree with him. Nibras writes:

It is unfortunate that what little news the American public gets to see and read about Iraq gets so distorted by the neurotic contortions of a handful of maladjusted, misinformed journalists.

However it is not only maladjusted and misinformed journalists that beg to differ with Nibras a number of Iraqi bloggers also disagree.

Neurotic Wife, blogging from inside the Green Zone is incredulous:

Al Maliki, who I cannot Friggin believe just stated today that Last week’s battles IS A SUCCESS!!! Is he pulling an April Fools on us??? Is that possible?

And Abbas Hawazin gives a more detailed discussion. He writes:

I'm surprised that there are people who can still wrinkle out a positive spin from this ; just type Basra or Iraq in Google News and behold pandemonium itself. Of course, one should always take into account the loyalties and the backgrounds of the news sources, but such a depressing pandemonium is unarguable, I myself rooted for the surge itself in its early days as the last hope, but as the haze clears you can't help but call a spade a spade, or a civil war a civil war, or the Iraqi Army the Badr Brigade.

Interestingly, as someone who is from the Sunni community one can notice a certain grudging respect. He writes:

Muqtada is an easy man to make fun of, with his extremely crude speech, the habibi and the repetitive uh grunt, but if you excuse his Fish Market mannerisms, you can find that he's coming from some sort of a tangible idea.

But this “respect” is one thing coming from a somewhat libertarian former rock guitarist but in a later post he also explains that even his sectarian Sunni relatives in Iraq are beginning to show support for Muqtada as a lesser of two evils:

while a great margin of Shi'i folks openly deride Mooks [a nickname for Sadr's militia], the Sunnis in general prefer him waaaay much more than the royal dynasty of the Hakims, my grandmother Ta'iffiya, a rather sectarian individual, commented on his interview last Friday by saying: “The poor sod, he cannot form a single comprehensible sentence. What a shame.”

Al-Ghad looks at the conflict and sees the oil companies behind it…

There is now mounting evidence that Maliki’s “sudden” offensive on Basra was decided during Cheney’s visit to Baghdad. Cheney was present in Baghdad, at a press conference called by Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of the occupying forces in Iraq. Oddly enough Petraeus said that he was speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to call on the major Western oil companies to invest in Iraq’s energy sector, as Iraq looks outside to boost oil, gas and power production.

Al-Ghad considers the operation a failure and concludes by quoting Vali Nasr:

President Bush was right that Basra marked a defining moment for Iraq, but not in the way that he intended…. this is the birth of Sadrist power.”

Meanwhile Blog Iraq sees the aims of the forces that want to partition Iraq. Namely the party of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim wants to create an independent region in Southern Iraq a so-called “Southern Federation”. Blog Iraq writes:

f you read the names of the cities and provinces in which the fight is fierce, you can easily link it to another list. The list of the provinces that Al-Hakim wants in his “Southern Federation”. Of course we will have to add Najaf and Karbala. Referring to the Article 115 of the Iraqi constitution:

“One or more provinces shall have the right to organize into a region based on a request to be voted on in a referendum submitted in one of the following two methods:
A. A request by one-third of the council members of each province intending to form a region.
B. A request by one-tenth of the voters in each of the province intending to form a region.”

And since Al-Sadr has many followers in all of these provinces, and the Sadr PMs are highly against this decision, it will be virtually impossible for Al-Hakim and the Shiaa Coalition to impose such a decision without kicking Muqtada and his followers out of the way.

And Finally

Baghdad Connect gives the whole analysis of this crisis an historical perspective. its all Tactique Habibi:

“It’s a tactic, buddy” this was Muqtada’s reply in his latest interview in Al Jazeera when asked about the latest development in Basra, so was Saddam’s reply in Saudi Arabia before he started the war with Iran in 1981

And after giving a historical trail from 1981 to the present day he concludes:

This is how today’s Iraq ushers the Iraq War 2 period, and while the American military regime’s sole dilemma is how to turn Al Maliki-Talibani-Hakim into oligarchy that looks after the invaders interests in Iraq in return for the safety of the formers’ lives, other Iraqi innocent lives are being lost everyday because it is simply a “Tactique Habibi”!!!

War in Basra… curfews in Baghdad… airstrikes on city centres… then a ceasefire… what on earth happened? As a BBC report said, the Basra operation is an empty vessel – it can be filled with any interpretation you choose. And fill it I will, with interpretations of iraqi bloggers. Some polarised, some contradictory, but a selection that can fill the gaps that exist in current reports.

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