U.S. troops rely on the Mahdi Army

A new twist during the Surge.


The mosque of Imam Kadhim, the most revered Shiite shrine in Baghdad, is a tempting target for Sunni insurgents. To protect it, Iraqi and U.S. troops rely on the Mahdi Army, the same Shiite militia that Washington considers a threat to Iraq's stability.
While U.S. soldiers continue to arrest individual Mahdi Army members in Kazimiyah and elsewhere, U.S. and Iraqi officers have not moved to break up the militia's security network that protects the shrine.
There is an interesting question. Maybe it would be logical to allow the Mahdi Army to operate in other parts of Iraq? And why not to allow Sunni insurgents to defend some areas in the country?
Makes sense to let the locals pull gaurd duty for a few reasons...

Frees up our personnel for other operations.

Reduces our footprint in the neighborhood which helps alleviate tensions.

Gives the Mahdi a task to perform which keeps them occupied and static rather than trawling Sunni areas for trouble.
Raises the queston of who is actually 'in control'.

I recall a couple of reports last year, indicatiing that in Basrah, and in some other places, UK/US troops had come to some kind of accomodation whereby they would not attempt to operate without the local JAM-chief gave them the go-ahead.

O.K., Brits/Yanks on the ground saw it as a pragmatic way of operating with limited forces and without inflaming local tensions, but at the end of the day this is all about power, the locals know it, and they're looking at it through a different lens than Coalition commanders.
This should of been done from day one and maybe we would of got the fcuk out of there by now. Every body wants to show their muscles but now theres that many factions out there. whos know who to trust now??
It was pretty much done from Day 1 actually. Certainly on Telic 2, a large proportion of the policemen in Basra had links to the Mahdi Army and were blatantly open about their support for Sadr.
Didn't work of course, they just followed their own agenda instead of providing fair and unbiased policing.

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