Thursday, May 06, 2004

Al-Sadr's Movement Will Fizzle

I have said before, the insurrection perpetrated by Muqtada al-Sadr's Al-Mahdi Army is a grab for power. It is an Iranian supported attempt to gain a Shiite theocracy, which could eventually have become an insurmountable force in the middle east. Al-Sadr was able to create a popular revolt among people poor enough to have little hope in attaining by any other means, al-Sadr's promised prosperity. Had the promises been well-intentioned or even plausible, al-Sadr would not be in the position he is in now. His support is fizzling and we will soon see him either hiding in exile or killed by supporters of other clerics.

The name al-Mahdi has serious religious implications in the Muslim world, particularly for the Shia to whom "The Mahdi" is a divinely guided savior. The name, "The al-Mahdi Militia" has been seen as a bit presumptuous by other clerics, but the clerics have felt it is best to wait and see how these things go. Maybe the militia is divinely guided, afterall. Today however, the clerics appear to be a little more sure that this is just another action of an upstart, as al-Sadr has long been perceived.

Al-Sadr is being asked now by a group of well over one-hundred Shiite clerics to end his revolt, specifically to end operations in and near Shiite mosques. They are basically pushing him out into traffic by appealing to him to move his operations away from holy areas. This crumbling of silence by other Shiite leaders is the first step toward al-Sadr's eventual demise. Al-Sadr is now at a crossroads. He can pursue the possibility of appealing to the Americans through Shiite leaders in an attempt to have the apologize for him - "he's young and confused, but an Iraqi patriot. He is good but misguided". This would help him retain his power and call a sort of victory - "we showed them Iraqi resolve!" The other option is to try to strengthen his resistance. This will only bring further bloodshed, delay the rebuilding of critical Iraqi infrastructure and signal the end for al-Sadr. Either way, it is recognized that al-Sadr must go. The only question is, which way.


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