05/19/2008 (6:09 am)
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki continued his vigorous suppression of violent opponents last week by surrounding the Ninevah province in the city of Mosul and then sweeping the city in order to clean up al Qaeda’s last major urban stronghold in Iraq, according to the Reuters report.
Lieutenant-General Riyadh Jalal Tawfiq, head of the Iraqi-led offensive that began a week ago, said 1,068 suspects had been detained so far.
“This operation will last until we finish off all the terrorist remnants and outlaws,” he said.
Bill Roggio’s report at Long War Journal adds that of the thousand detainees, almost 200 are known Tier 1 or Tier 2 operatives, according to US Major General Mark Hertling. Tier 1 operatives are operational leaders; Tier 2 operatives are foreign facilitators, bomb makers, or cell leaders.
“There have been some very big fishes caught,” Hertling said.
The Maliki government continues to offer amnesty to armed combatants who have not killed anyone and choose to hand over their weapons. They are to be paid an unspecified amount for the weapons. The amnesty policy has been successful in convincing a large number of members of Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army to lay down their weapons in Baghdad and Basra.
Meanwhile, the AP report includes comments from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who visited Iraq over the weekend. Apparently Ms. Pelosi is beginning to recognize that the Maliki government is producing national reconciliation, which she complained in February they had not. Rightward bloggers are wondering whether this means Ms. Pelosi has adjusted to reality, or whether this is the beginning of a new Dem strategy (see, for example, Power Line and Commentary observations.)
I’ve been admiring Maliki’s shrewd activism for several months now, as the new Iraqi government flexes its muscles in putting down armed opponents around the nation. Saddam Hussein appears to have tolerated large, armed bodies within his country, but the violence of 2006-7 made it clear that an independent Iraqi republic could not sustain such forces. Maliki is taking sane but effective measures to secure the nation from extremes of violence, and now seems to be closing one of the worst lines of foreign incursion.
The goal of the Iraq war all along has been a stable, free, and prosperous republic to stand as an example of how the Middle East can prosper; the Bush administration staked its policy on the notion that prosperous free republics don’t attack each other and don’t breed terrorists. This long-term goal may yet be achieved, despite fierce opposition from foreign terrorist elements and constant, negative posturing from domestic politicians. I remain one of the few who believes the war was not a mistake, but a bold plan with some chance of success.
2 Comments »
Comment by numbertwopencil
…Saddam Hussein appears to have tolerated large, armed bodies within his country…
I thought Saddam’s main thing was suppressing his enemies through force. As far as I know, if he tolerated armed militias, they were part of, or friendly to, Hussein and the Bath party.
Comment by Phil
My thought was that “Armies of 40,000 armed men do not appear out of nowhere,” so I figured that several of the militias in Iraq must have existed before the invasion. Your comment prompted me to look into the matter further, thanks. Turns out I was right, and wrong.
The Badr Organization did exist before the invasion — in Iran. It’s composed mostly of Iraqi exiles who fled Saddam Hussein, and apparently fought against him in the Iran-Iraq war, armed and trained by the government of Iran. It now has some influence in the south, and may still have ties to Iran (but they deny it.) It’s the military arm of the SIIC (Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council), the largest Shiite party in Iraq, which is included in the Maliki government.
The Mahdi Army, on the other hand, apparently did not exist until shortly after the invasion, and was originally made up of Shiite students. It’s grown to around 60,000 armed men. This is the group that Maliki is working pretty hard to disband.
The Iran-Iraq war and the militarization of Iraq under Saddam Hussein made it so that nearly every man in the country has military training and access to light infantry weapons. However, my assertion that “Saddam tolerated armed militias” was incorrect.