Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: War on Terror — Rick Moran @ 6:30 am

More evidence that this ain’t your daddy’s surge:

A U.S. military spokesman on Thursday hailed a joint American-Iraqi raid on Baghdad’s leading Shiite Muslim mosque as proof of that the Baghdad security plan is being applied evenly against all sides of the country’s sectarian divide.

The raid, which took place Wednesday, angered the mosque’s imam, who took the unusual step of canceling Friday prayer services at the historic Baratha mosque, where, Shiites believe, Muhammad’s son-in-law, Ali, converted a Christian missionary to Islam in the seventh century.

Sheik Jalal al-Din al-Saghir, a member of parliament from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, denounced the raid, which the U.S. military said had turned up a cache of illegal weapons. The Supreme Council is one of Iraq’s largest political parties and part of its governing coalition.

Searching mosques has been a particularly sensitive issue since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. In delivering the decree that legalized the security plan earlier this week, Iraqi army Lt. Gen. Aboud Qanbar said soldiers would enter mosques only if they were used “for illegal purposes” or to protect citizens from harm.

Our intelligence is so good that the problem isn’t so much finding the weapons as finding the will to confiscate them. To do this, we are going to have to confront the militias, raid mosques, arrest government officials, purge the army and police, and in the process, try and avoid civilian casualties.

A tall order all of that. And I suspect we will continue to hear complaints from some of the beneficiaries of the sectarian violence:

Al-Saghir said he’d called the defense and interior ministries and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s office, demanding to know who’d authorized the search.

“All of them denied any knowledge about the raid,” Saghir said. “One of the Iraqi officials told me that the U.S. officials in Iraq are confused.”

Iraqi government spokesmen didn’t return calls Thursday.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Chris Garver, a spokesman for the coalition forces in Iraq, said American soldiers had entered the mosque only after the search had been completed and then only to help Iraqi special forces haul out the weapons.

The search showed that the security forces would target Shiite militias, even if they had to enter mosques, he said.

Sounds to me like a case of “plausible deniability” on the part of Iraqi authorities. To prevent al-Maliki from throwing a monkey wrench into politically sensitive ops like raiding a mosque, they have been deliberately kept in the dark, only being told of the broad outlines of the plan.

I can see where this might lead to some complaints that al-Maliki is not in control and has zero influence on what happens in his own country. But you don’t need a surge or Baghdad Security Plan for that statement to be true. The whole point of the operation is to give al-Maliki that control - at least in Baghdad. What he does with it will determine how quickly we can draw down our forces.

Will going after the most important Shia mosque in Baghdad allay some of the fears by Sunnis that we will only target their militias and deaths squads? Not until we directly confront the Mahdi Army will the Sunnis believe that the surge will be an equal opportunity destroyer. As if to highlight that point, American aircraft bombed a Sunni-dominated part of southern Baghdad near Dora. The Sunnis in Dora have practiced a little faith-based cleansing by ejecting Shias and Christians who have lived in the area for generations, killing dozens. The use of aircraft is an escalation that we will almost certainly see more of as fighting intensifies around the city.


  1. Morning. Wish we’d started this raiding/cleaning up of musques sooner …

    Comment by jeff — 2/16/2007 @ 6:54 am

  2. Jeff,

    We have been for a few years now, although usually Iraqi troops are the ones that actually enter the mosques.

    Comment by Andy — 2/16/2007 @ 5:33 pm

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