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Peace with Sadr

May 28th, 2004

Now that the inevitable peace deal between the American forces and Sadr’s Mahdi army appears to have been reached, amounting to restoration of the status quo ante

, can anybody provide a coherent rationale for Bremer’s decision to drive Sadr into revolt in the first place, by closing his newspaper and arresting his supporters? The assault on Fallujah was bound to be a disaster, but it’s not surprising that the Americans felt impelled to take some drastic action in response to the killing and mutilation of US contractors there. But the attack on Sadr seemed gratuitiously stupid, even more so than the disbanding of the army and the banning of the Baath party.

Tacitus, still taking the view that “failure is not an option in Iraq” is naturally furious about the deal . But any realistic analysis of the planned election must recognise that Sadr has enough support to make him a powerful force. He may not be a particularly attractive character, but he’s no worse than dozens of other world leaders with whom we deal for want of any better alternative. The notion that a military option with a June 30 deadline could take him and his movement out of the picture was never more than a delusion.

Whether you think, like Tacitus, that the attack on Sadr should been pushed through to its bloody conclusion, or like me that it should never have started, this is another appalling stuffup on Bremer’s part. Even at this late stage he ought to take responsibility and resign or, failing that, be sacked.

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  1. May 28th, 2004 at 21:40 | #1

    Response at CT.

  2. May 28th, 2004 at 22:12 | #2

    But what are the odds that the USA is doing what comes naturally, e.g. when “white man speaks with forked tongue” (something that was much rarer in Canadian history)?

    They may be offering a truce they will welch on, without realising that good faith matters (the one making the truce will not be the one to break it, since the buck won’t stop anywhere and no individual will consider himself at fault).

    I’m more than a little expecting that the USA intends to have a truce committing them to withdraw at some unspecified time after the militia disbands, and is willing to accuse the militia of bad faith if it wants to wait until after a withdrawal. Pretty much like what the USA has in mind for Iraq as a whole after any nominal transfer of sovereignty…

    Under that scenario, the USA still covertly adheres to the initial thinking behind the newspaper closure and fancies it is being cunning, not appreciating that that is what bad faith is.

  3. May 29th, 2004 at 06:24 | #3

    The legal justifications for the attacks on Sadr have been most interesting, harkening back to Clinton’s pursuit of Mohamed Farah Aideed in Somalia in 1993. After all, the US military has an arrest warrant out for Sadr, accusing him of being complicit in the murder of Abdul Majid al-Khoei in April 2003. One hopes the US deals with Sadr better than it did Aideed.

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