September 9, 2004

Our goal is...

Captain Ed has an interesting post on how al Sadr's rebellion is running out of steam. I've heard some silly talk about how Al Sadr has "won" and is in a stronger position than ever. That's just Democrat wishful-thinking...

...As I wrote when Sadr backed down and left the mosque, he most certainly lost prestige in that negotiation. Sistani successfully asserted native philosophical control over Shi'ite Iraq, as opposed to Qumian (Iran's Shi'ite philosophical strain) radicalism. In a more practical sense, of course, rebels who continually sue for peace and give up territory -- especially holy ground like the Imam Ali shrine -- do not lead many men in the future.

Even more practically, Sadr's loss of status has led to a more measurable loss of cash flow. While controlling large mosques, Sadr had at his disposal the offerings given to the clerics by the faithful. At the Imam Ali shrine, this was a major source of income for Sadr and his militia, as believers make pilgrimages on a regular basis and usually leave large donations of cash, gold, and jewelry as their tithe.

Nor is that the only source of income for Shi'ite clerics. The mosques collect "taxes" from their regular attendees, which again go directly to the cleric. Sadr used to benefit from this cash source as well, but that has now dried up. His former mentor, Ayatollah Kazim al-Haeri in Iran, now demands that the more radical Shi'a that paid Sadr these taxes instead pay his representatives, which not only hits Sadr's pocketbook but also underscores his Iranian ties.

Sadr does have his power base in Baghdad's Sadr City still left, but the Americans have been targeting that area in order to disarm it while his Mahdi army is demoralized and running low on funds....

We and the Iraqis are sticking to the task of destroying Al Sadr's gang without making them martyrs.

And we are sticking to the task of encouraging the Iraqis to take control of their future. Many of the hesitations in our fighting in Najaf were requested by Allawi and the interim government. That's good. And it's something that elitist top-down-management types seem incapable of grasping.

Our goal is not to solve Iraq's problems, our goal is to get the Iraqis to grow up and start solving their own problems. That's the metric that we should be measured by.

Posted by John Weidner at September 9, 2004 8:47 AM
Weblog by John Weidner