Basra Update

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by tomahawk6, Apr 19, 2008.

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  1. The Iraqi government is reporting that the Sadr stronghold in Basra has fallen to government forces backed by US and British CAS and artillery support.The media has focused on Basra and the desertions of some IA and IP while ignoring the performance of the majority of government forces. A very hopeful sign for the future.

    Iraqi troops advance against Mahdi Army in Basrah

    By Bill Roggio

    April 19, 2008 10:38 AM
    The Iraqi Army, backed by Coalition advisers and airpower, has launched an assault on the Mahdi Army-controlled neighborhood of Hayaniyah in the port city of Basrah, sparking heavy fighting. Multinational Forces Iraq described the action as "a new phase of operations" as part of the overall operation, called Knights' Charge, which was launched on March 25.

    The fighting in Basrah is said to be intense. The assault began at 6 AM local time when "British artillery and US aircraft released ordnance against known criminal rocket and mortar sites west of Hayaniyah," the Multinational Forces Iraq press release stated.

    "There were violent clashes with gunmen there," Captain Chris Ford, a British military spokesman in Basrah, told The Los Angeles Times. An Iraqi witness said Coalition airstrikes blunted a Mahdi Army attack and allowed Iraqi forces to take control of the main streets in Hayaniyah.

    Iraqi troops are now said to be in control of the neighborhood. "Our troops deployed in all the parts of the (Hayaniyah) district and controlled it without much resistance," Major General Abdul Karim Khalaf, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior told Reuters. "Now we are working on house-to-house checking. We have made many arrests."

    Elements from at least two Iraqi Army divisions are involved in the Hayaniyah operation. The newly formed 14th Division is operating in conjunction with the 1st Division, one of the most seasoned divisions in the Iraqi Army. "This remains an Iraqi led, planned and executed mission," said Major Tom Holloway, the British Army’s spokesman in southern Iraq. A brigade from the 1st Division was moved into Basrah to support the operation after the military met tougher than expected opposition at the onset of Knights' Charge. The 1st Division is based out of Anbar province and has seen action in Fallujah, Ramadi, Baghdad, Baqubah, Mosul and elsewhere.

    Hayaniyah was one of three Mahdi Army-controlled neighborhoods that have been surrounded by the Iraqi Army since earlier this week. Iraqi forces also have surrounded the Khamsamile, and Garma neighborhoods in an effort to isolate the Mahdi Army and control movement into and out of the areas. Iraqi troops wrested control of Taymiyyah and Qiblah from the Mahdi Army over the past several weeks.

    Ongoing pressure in Basrah

    Today's operation is the latest in a series of actions designed to wrest Basrah from the grip of the Mahdi Army. On April 18, the Iraqi security forces detained 35 "wanted men" in Basrah, Al Faw, and Al Qornah. One of those captured included an "accused suspected of being involved in the attempt on the life of one of top Shiite Cleric Ali al Sistani's representatives in Basrah." The Sistani representative was seriously wounded in the assassination attempt.

    Also on April 18, Iraqi troops surrounded an office of the Sadrist movement in the heart of the city. The building complex is owned by the Iraqi Olympic Committee and was occupied by other political parties, all of whom left after receiving notice from the government. The Iraqi military has been ordered to eject political parties from state-owned buildings, but the Sadrist party is refusing to leave. A 48-hour deadline has been issued for the Sadrists to leave. The Sadrists have said they have begun to leave the premises and will be out of the buildings today.

    Background on the fighting between the Mahdi Army and the Iraqi government

    Mahdi Army forces rose up after the Iraqi government started the assault on Basrah on March 25 to clear the city of the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backed Shia militias. Sadr called for his forces to leave the streets on March 30 just as Iraqi Army and police reinforcements began to arrive in Basrah. Sadr later admitted he ordered his followers within the Army and police to abandon their posts and join the fighting against the government.

    US and Iraqi forces killed 173 Mahdi Army fighters in Baghdad alone during the six days of fighting from March 25-30. The fighting has not abated in Sadr City and other Mahdi Army-dominated neighborhoods in northern and eastern Baghdad.

    Sadr and his political movement have become increasingly isolated since the fighting began in Basrah, Baghdad, and the South. The Iraqi government, with the support of the political parties, said the Sadrist political movement would not be able to participate in upcoming provincial elections if it failed to disband the Mahdi Army. On April 13, the cabinet approved legislation that prevents political parties with militias from contesting provincial elections this year. The bill will now be sent to parliament for approval. Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani, the senior most Shia cleric in Iraq, said the Mahdi Army was not above the law and should be disarmed.

    A few photos.

    British Army trucks guard a road as Iraqi Army soldiers take positions during a military operation in Basra, Iraq, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Saturday. April 19, 2008. The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki kept up the pressure on al-Sadr's followers in Basra, launching an operation early Saturday aimed at clearing militants from the Hayaniyah district, a Mahdi Army stronghold in Iraq's oil capital. British artillery and U.S. warplanes were supporting the Iraqi army operation, which met minimal resistance, military spokesman Maj. Tom Holloway said

  2. Curious how this lays with this:,,30200-1313362,00.html
  3. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    The Iraqi Army in the South now appears to be supported, as it is elsewhere in Iraq, by a leavening of 'training and mentoring - type teams' - who do not come, I would suggest, (unlike the Times) from the SAS, but from normal Infantry Battalions. The Times take on it:

    Looks like the JAM are getting a good kicking, now that the IA has a bit more support - good on them, and bloody well done the British Infantry involved (unless of course it really is several hundred covert SAS specialists, of course). The assault last month was probably a bit more than the nascent IA could cope with on their own - but with this assistance they appear to be doing well this time.

    Edited to add link to the sunday Telegraph take on the events last time:
    Battle to retake Basra was 'complete disaster'

    By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
    Last Updated: 12:34am BST 20/04/2008

    The British-trained Iraqi Army's attempt to retake Basra from militiamen was an "unmitigated disaster at every level", British commanders have disclosed.

    Senior sources have said that the mission was undermined by incompetent officers and untrained troops who were sent into battle with inadequate supplies of food, water and ammunition.

    Iraqi soldiers at the Divisional Training Centre outside Basra: Battle to retake Basra was 'complete disaster'
    Iraqi soldiers at the Divisional Training Centre outside Basra

    They said the failure had delayed the British withdrawal by "many months".

    Their comments came as the Iraqi army, this time directly supported by American and British forces, began a second operation in Basra in an attempt to find insurgent weapons caches.

    The push, which was met with fierce resistance, took place in the Hayania district of the city, where there were clashes two weeks ago.

    In the first operation, it is understood that one Iraqi brigade became a "busted flush" after 1,200 of its soldiers deserted.

    At one stage during the battle, stories were circulating at the British headquarters that Iraqi troops were demanding food and water from coalition forces at gunpoint. "It was an unmitigated disaster at every level," an officer said.

    Gen Mohan Furayji, the Iraqi commander who was in charge of troops during the operation, was described by a senior British staff officer as a "dangerous lunatic" who "ignored" advice.

    The British officer, who is based at the coalition headquarters at Basra Air Station, said that the decision to allow Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq, to run the operation had been a "disaster which felt as though an amateur was in charge".

    More than 15,000 Iraqi troops were ordered to seize control of the city last month following an uprising by the Mehdi Army, the powerful militia group which is largely trained and financed by Iran.

    President George W Bush described the battle for Basra as a "defining moment" for Iraq, while British officials at the time praised the professionalism of the Iraqi army.

    However, the operation ended in a stalemate, with the Iraqi government agreeing to a ceasefire.

    Criticism of Britain's involvement in Basra resurfaced last week during Gordon Brown's visit to America.

    The New York Times reported, incorrectly, that British troops were refusing to help the Iraqi army, which the newspaper said was "deeply embarrassing for Britain".

    In a devastating critique of the Iraqi military, British commanders have disclosed that "chaos ruled" the operation to retake Basra.

    One officer said the Iraqi army's 14th Division had only 26 per cent of the equipment necessary to take part in combat operations.

    He said: "There were literally thousands of troops arriving in Basra from all over Iraq. But they had no idea why they were there or what they were supposed to do. It was madness and to cap it all they had insufficient supplies of food, water and ammunition.

    "One of the newly formed brigades was ordered into battle and suffered around 1,200 desertions within the first couple of hours - it was painful to watch.

    "They had to be pulled out because they were a busted flush. The Iraqi police were next to useless. There were supposed to be 1,300 ready to deploy into the city, but they refused to do so. The situation deteriorated to the extent where we [the British Army] were forced to stage a major resupply operation in order to stave off disaster.

    "The net effect of all of this is that the British Army will be forced to remain here for many months longer."

    The Sunday Telegraph has also learnt that British commanders had devised a plan for Gen Mohan. The plan came with the caveat that it should not be started until mid-July because Iraqi troops were not ready. But the officer said that the Iraqi general had ignored the advice.

    He said that a British liaison team was sent to the Iraqi army headquarters during the battle. "They were greeted by a group of Iraqi generals sitting around a large desk, shouting into their mobiles without a map in sight. Chaos ruled."

    Basra was handed back to Iraqi control last year after the Army withdrew from its last military base in the city.

    The Ministry of Defence had hoped to reduce the number of troops serving in southern Iraq to about 2,000 this spring, but that plan has been shelved and British troops are once again patrolling the city's streets.
  4. There are commentators out there who suggest that, while Sadr is talking a good fight (from a safe place in Iran), his hosts - who may share his religion, and his anti-Americanism but definitely not his Nationalist stance - have turned off their tap as far as he is concerned, in favour of Mr Maliki - which would be really ironic, it seems to me, since that would leave America supporting Iran's preference.

    Hardly what The Shrub would have had in his tiny little mind, half a decade ago.
  5. Only if believe that Maliki is having his strings pulled from Iran, an idea for which I would suggest the evidence is weak unless you believe that just because his party took refuge in Iran means he is on their roster.

    You also have to ignore the fact that it is the reformers in Iran who seem to support Maliki, and the extreamist who go for Sadr. As Sadr is the best excuse the US has to bomb Iran right now, neither the reformers nor the clerics who have grasped the extent to which Ahmadinejad is a liability are willing to let Quds run wild in Iraq, either through Sadr or independently. If the sainer voices in Iran have grasped that a acceptably friendly regime in Baghdad is preferable to going for an all-out theocracy in Iraq and the near certainty of a US attack, I don't see the problem.
  6. The Yanks also backed Allawi and not Maliki
  7. Is an Iranian reformer necessarily pro-American?

    Iranian backing of Iraqi Nationalist Sadr is based on his anti-Americanism - is that extreme (no 'a' in extreme, BTW) or pragmatic, if you don't like Westerners rootling around in your back yard?

    The sane (no 'i' in sane, BTW)voices in Iran are no more keen on a continuing American presnece than is Armydinnerjacket: it is a matter of tactics.

    It was/is convenient to play host to both Sadr and Maliki, in order to be able to influence both/either.

    For Sven's beneift, Allawi was a piss-poor pretender all along. One of the reasons he has no credibility in Shia Iraq, is because he lacks support from Teheran. He was an awful choice on The Shrub's part in the first place. His selection by Washington blew the pretence that Amur'ca was serious about establsihing a credible, democratically mandated, elected EyeRackee gunmint.

    Right now, Teheran - whether seen through the eyes of the 'sain' :roll: or the 'extream' :roll: factions is having one of its key national foreign policy goals (control over its principal regional competitopr and threat: Iraq) delivered - unintentionally - on a plate, by their principal opponent for influence in the region, America.
  8. I don't think anyone thinks that any elements within the main 'competitopr' :roll: of the US are going to turn pro-American in relation to the US 'presnece' :roll: any time soon, but I'd settle for human rights, freedom of speech and prosperity in Iraq, without any morality police. I also STILL haven't been given any good reason to buy into the idea that Maliki is Iran's bitch.

    And I wouldn't write off Allawi either. By his own account Maliki hates his job, and I can't see him going on past 2009. I still think Allawi is well placed to succeed him as a candidate everyone could live with.
  9. Grand Ayatollah Najafi issued a fatwa, or religious opinion or edict, that declared the Iraqi government as the only force in the country with the right to bear arms. Sadr is isolated and has lost control of his militia.Of course this isnt made easy with him in residence in Iran. The Kurds and Sunni's are solidly behind the government.The public is tired of the killing and with the Mahdi Army out of business life will be alot easier on everyone.
  10. ...and the Sunnis are on their way back to government:

  11. What? Every one of them of all factions? Do you want to buy a nice tower in Paris?

    I guess it's all over then, you guys can pack up and go home.

    I really don't believe Sadr is finished either, not by a long shot. We are going to see more inter-Shia fighting of various types before this is over, not to mention the ongoing Sunni problem (admittedly better than it was a year or so ago) and the Kurdish question.
  12. Don't hold your breath. See Saudi Arabia (and a dozen others) for further details.
  13. Well the Yanks are convinced the IA and Malaiki are the mutts nuts and all will be well and a glorious new dawn o… Iraqi democracy beckons

    Methinks once Hillary or Obama get to be Pres in November and call the troops home, Maliki is going to get a nasty reality fix.
  14. I'm not so sure that they will be able to get the troops out as fast as you think they intend to.

    Maliki's not the only one who is due a reality fix: the Democrats are due too, come Jan '09, I think.

  15. They could do another cut and run a la Vietnam… I just hope Broone has the good sense to get our people out of Dodge as soon and the omens suggest the Yanks are starting to pack.