Saturday, May 26, 2007
One of the dangers of a situation as complex as the multi-faceted Iraqi civil war is that what seems like a lethal strike might actually turn out to be a helping hand. Take this AP dispatch describing a raid on Moqtada Al-Sadr's Baghdad stronghold in which American and Iraqi forces captured the leader of a secret cell specializing in EFP attacks. From that, you might assume that the raid struck a blow against al-Sadr and his Mahdi militia.
The thing is, the description of the cell matches the one Lt. Gen. Petraeus gave in an Army Times interview the other day of a network of "Sadrist special ops" units being trained covertly in Iran:
...“The guys that did the Karbala attack are part of this network. It is a Sadr special operations attack.”
However, he said, “I don’t think we have anything that shows that Sadr approved it [or] was involved in it.”
These cells have become a major focus of American anti-militia operations, both in Baghdad and Basra. The question is, are they Sadrist operatives? Or renegade units that Iran has lured away from al-Sadr's chain of command? Until we can answer that question, there's no way of knowing whether we're boxing al-Sadr in or simply doing his laundry for him.