MOOK’S SPOOKED: IRAQI MILITIA BULLY BAILS OUT
Not only did Muqtada al-Sadr turn tail and run, he’s done the full Sir Robin
He is packing it in and packing it up
And sneaking away and buggering up
And chickening out and pissing off home,
Yes, bravely he is throwing in the sponge…
Ralph Peters explains,
In the past he at least went to ground on his home turf, hunkering down while his underlings fought and died. This time, his nerve failed him so badly that he jumped the border.
Why now? One thing Muqtada’s always had is a strong survival instinct. He calculated just how far he could push – then ducked when the rounds started impacting. In 2003 and 2004, when we had the justification and means to kill him, he accurately judged that our leadership didn’t have the guts to take him out.
What’s changed? Plenty. Mookie’s probably sensed that President Bush is cornered politically and, with little left to lose, isn’t going to settle for more half-measures. The troop surge that Sen. Barack “I’m entitled!” Obama and so many others in Congress deride got his attention, too: Sadr City’s no longer a safety zone.
And after being beaten sufficiently about the head and shoulders, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has decided that maybe Mookie’s not the man of the future. Najaf and Karbala just don’t feel safe anymore.
Over the past several weeks, we’ve taken out or busted nearly a dozen high-ranking Sadrists, the boys who decide where the bombs will go off and who choose the death-squad targets. It’s hard to feel warm and fuzzy when your deputies keep going down.
And there’s a new kid in town: Gen. Dave Petraeus is a different kind of adversary and Muqtada, who made his bones judging the limitations of his opponents, recognizes that the rules just changed. Petraeus has a tactile sense of Iraq that his predecessors in Baghdad simply lacked. And King David’s out to win.
Muqtada’s new strategy is to go dormant for this winter of discontent, to lay low himself and throttle back the activities of his Mahdi Army until we conclude the battle for Baghdad’s been won and relax. He hopes we’ll defeat his Sunni enemies for him, leaving him in position to call out his reserves and dominate the political scene thereafter.
We need to flush him out. By shaming him.