League of the Righteous Brothers

Gareth Porter has an provocative post up at Antiwar.com in which he views the recent agreement between the Maliki administration and the Shiite insurgent group “League of the Righteous”, that formally ends the groups armed resistance to the regime that:

This deals a final blow to the U.S. military’s narrative of an Iranian “proxy war” in Iraq.


The U.S. command in Iraq has long argued that Iran was using “special groups” of Shi’a insurgents who had broken away from cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army to destabilize the U.S.-supported Iraqi regime — but pro-Iranian groups were weakened by U.S. military pressures throughout 2007 and defeated by the Maliki regime in 2008.

The history of the new agreement confirms what was evident from existing evidence: the “League of the Righteous” was actually the underground wing of the Mahdi Army all along, and the Sadrist insurgents were secretly working closely with the Maliki regime against the Americans and the British — even as it was at war with armed elements within the regime.

The contradictory nature of the relationship between Maliki and the Sadrists reflects the tensions between pro-Sadrist elements within the regime — including Maliki’s Da’wa Party — and the anti-Sadrist elements led by the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

But more importantly though, he goes on to outline the contradictory nature between the Maliki administration and the U.S. occupation forces during that time, which eventually culminated in first, the SOFA agreement that set a hard deadline for the U.S. withdrawal that then set the stage for the big Maliki win in the subsequent election cycle that recast Maliki as a popular nationalist:

The relationship between Maliki and the U.S. was also marked by contradictions. Even through he was ostensibly cooperating with the U.S. against the Sadrists in 2007 and 2008, the Maliki regime was also cooperating secretly with the Sadrist forces against the Americans. And Maliki — with the encouragement of Iran — was working on a strategy for achieving the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq through diplomatic means, which he did not reveal to the Americans until summer 2008.

While I think Porter’s assertion is fundamentally correct, I think it overlooks some larger implications, which if true, are indicative of how the Maliki administration in coordination with Mqutada al-Sadr, gamed the the Bush administration into a diplomatic victory for Iraq, when a simple insurgent military victory was out of reach given the complicated sectarian context.

As I duly noted in the Iraqi Election Postscript post, was what was rather amazing about that election was, that literally minutes after Maliki’s victory in that election, his administration immediatly formed a political alliance with the Sadr organization. While most ignored this development, or some saw it at best, as a sort of self admission of Sadr’s falling star, following as it did, months of seemingly brutal U.S./ISF coordinated attacks on his organization – it struck me as a particularly suspicious turn of events, but a turn nonetheless had a certain logic in that it also just happened to honor all of Sadr’s basic political demands. Most specifically, the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraqi soil.

As Porter indicates, the release of Sadr’s lieutenants blows away the (U.S.) myth of the so called “special groups” as working for Iranian interests, when in fact, they were connected to the Mahdi Army all along and working it would seem, in some un-official capacity with the Maliki administration that ultimately created a grand illusion that fulfilled the occupations expectations – in order to shatter them at a later date on the diplomatic front with the expulsion of the occupation by decree.

What I’m saying is that throughout the entire roll up of Sadr’s movement there was a tacit/secret agreement between him and Maliki that would both create the appearance of Iranian military influence (and bolster U.S. justifications and confidence in Maliki), that would then lead to a roll up of said Shiite insurgency that would in turn, lay the foundation for the occupations irrelevancy to the security of Iraq (and thus, disarming U.S. justifications), that in turn would permit a stringent SOFA to be negotiated in Maliki/Sadr’s favor, that could be backed up by the Mahdi Army (if need be), that would finally set the stage for Maliki to consolidate power in the election. Power that would in the end, be in total synchrony to Muqtada al-Sadr’s vision of Iraq.

One Response to “League of the Righteous Brothers”

  1. anna missed » Blog Archive » better fire up the old firebrand honey, cuz mookie’s back in town Says:

    […] Congress) away from the SIIC in the upcoming elections in Iraq. As a self confessed Sadr watcher (recently here and here), I’ve been following the peculiar evolution of his movement, especially in recent […]

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