The LAT has a story up about the Mahdi beginning to crack-up. While the LAT has a strong liberal bias (nothing new here), they’ve done a pretty good job on this story discussing infighting within Sadr’s Mahdi ‘army’ :
Seven weeks into the U.S.-led security crackdown in Baghdad, leaders of the Al Mahdi militia of Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr acknowledge that their fighters are chafing under orders to freeze operations, and worry they could lose control of the sprawling organization.
Some members have defected to armed groups that have no intention of calling a cease-fire. Commanders have gone underground, leaving a leadership void as U.S. forces arrest members in raids. Some commanders have fled to Iran and others to southern Iraq. Rumors abound about the location of Sadr.
While the breakup of Sadr’s goons is welcome news it can also pose problems (more details available in article) if not proactively neutralized:
Senior leaders of Sadr’s movement also worry openly that Iran has started to recruit Al Mahdi fighters to possibly confront U.S. forces in Iraq.
Sadr’s movement is part of the U.S.-backed government, but now American and Iraqi officials face the danger that the Al Mahdi militia may splinter into dozens of armed groups no longer under a national command.
The article also notes Iran funding/supporting attacks on US interests in Iraq (is anyone really shocked?):
n fact, commanders now wonder how to put the brakes on reputed efforts by Iran to lure away members and manipulate the militia into confronting the United States inside Iraq. Iranians fear America may strike their country militarily because the Shiite regime in Tehran has resisted pressure to back down on its nuclear program.
One Al Mahdi commander, Abu Bakr, using a nom de guerre to protect his identity, said he was part of a delegation that visited Iran recently and met with an important official there. “I spoke very angrily with him,” Abu Bakr said. “They didn’t help us before, but now they want to help us. They want us to be their great friend because they are afraid of the Americans.”
Although Sadr once promised to strike U.S. forces if America attacked Iran, the Al Mahdi militia’s relationship with Iran has become a divisive issue.
Abu Bakr believes Iranian agents want to use the militia against Washington and fears that the Iranians have already picked up Al Mahdi fighters.
“It has happened. Iran has approached people. Iran has paid money for people to attack U.S. soldiers,” Abu Bakr said, referring to a roadside bomb explosion a week ago in Baghdad. “The order didn’t come from us.”
Speaking of Iran, Hot Air is doing a good job keeping track of the possible release of the British sailors. They may have served Iran’s purposes:
1. Hostage exchange for a prisoner (an Iranian ‘diplomat’ was released in Iraq). If this is, indeed, an exchange, that is not a good move.
2. Test Britain’s resolve (Britain did nothing and didn’t really show any Thatcher/Churchill strength). Test is over.
3. Propaganda tools (supplement to number 2, above) – characterize the west as a paper tiger to the rest of the islamofascist world.
In the meantime, Nancy Pelosi runs along undermining the State Dept and US Foreign Policy. Note: the Republicans she references in the article only carried the President’s message which the Syrian media termed “a slap in the face”. Hey, can you blame the Syrian government for feeling that way knowing Pelosi is coming over to play political patty cake.
Maybe Pelsoi will find out what specific songs are on Bashir’s iPod since Diane Sawyer was unable to. Rock the Casbah?