About six months ago, Sadr withdrew from Iraq and suspended Mahdi operations. At the time, I suspected that it was just a way to take the heat off while he tried to regain his grip on the organization and allowed him to rearm (see previous link). While the prospect of Iran taking things over remains (see emphasis), it appears Sadr may be calling it quits on the political front as well:
Iraq’s elusive Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr has decided to drop out of politics for the time being because his disillusionment with the political scene in Iraq has left him sick and anxious, he said in an unusually personal letter to his followers released Friday.
He also cited the betrayal of some followers, whom he accused of falling prey to “materialistic” politics.”So far I did not succeed either to liberate Iraq or make it an Islamic society — whether because of my own inability or the inability of society, only God knows,” Sadr wrote.
This was the first time Sadr has sought to explain his absence, which had given rise to speculation that he was no longer exerting full control over the Mahdi Army. [emphasis added]
Iran (via Quds Force and material/logistic help) may be taking a greater role in these militias or the militias may continue to splinter and act on their own. Both scenarios present their own, unique challenges. While the aforementioned splinter groups may choose to pursue terrorist actions, they may choose to disband (go back to work and family) or join Iraqi Police Units or assist coalition forces as concerned citizens groups seen elsewhere in Iraq. Ideally, the latter, positive, choices will be made.
What about Mosquitoes?
Yon has a post (deceptively titled “Guitar Heroes“) about Kiowa Warriors (insurgents call them mosquitoes).
I have a friend who flies F-16s. Prior to that, they flew helicopters for the army. I asked why they switched. The response was “I didn’t like getting shot down”. While I understood the response, reading Yon’s post brings much more meaning. The men and women, such as CW2 Susan Weathers, truly deserve the title provided by their aircraft. Here are some teasers:
Ambush! Three bullets struck the helicopter and one hit Jamison’s helmet. The flight helmets have no ballistic protection because Kevlar is heavy, and when you crash it can break your neck or even snap your head off. The bullet went straight through the back of Jamison’s helmet…
Bullets ripped through the cockpit. One bullet punched through the pedals between the pilot’s feet. Another slammed into a seat. Another bullet popped a rotor. And one bullet tore through the belly of the helicopter, severing a wrist-thick skein of wires.
The last thing a lot of pilots hear before they die is the “Caution, Warning, and Advisory System.” Di Giorgio and Sickler heard it start blaring…