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Iran, Not al-Sadr, Leading Shi'a Attacks In Iraq

As Shi'a militias and armed groups strike out at US and Iraqi targets from Baghdad to Basra, it is curious to note how many news reports attribute the attacks to Muqtada al-Sadr, either directly or indirectly.

Rocket attacks on the U.S.-protected Green Zone may carry a message with implications across Iraq: rising anger within the Mahdi Army militia.

The Shiite fighters led by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are reorganizing their ranks, taking delivery of new weapons from Iran and ramping up complaints about crackdowns by U.S. and Iraqi forces that could unravel the Mahdi Army's self-declared cease-fire, according to militia commanders.

But Muqtada al-Sadr was sidelined from any command by Iran weeks ago. There are no attributions of direct quotes, commands or comment from Muqtada since the Shi'a militia uprising began in earnest. And there is a very simple explanation for this: The puppet has had his strings cut. Iran is calling the shots.

The fact that his note exists is far more important than its specific wording.

“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.

“The continued presence of the occupiers, on the one hand, and the disobedience of many on the other, pushed me to isolate myself in protest. I gave society a big proportion of my life. Even my body became weaker, I got more sicknesses.”

In reality, the continued presence of his Iranian masters pushed him to isolate himself. Iran has changed other leadership positions and oriented other terrorist groups toward field operational leadership and away from political leadership. The IRGC commander was changed. Hizballah's military command was stripped from Nasrallah and handed to sheikh Naim Qasim in the Bekaa Valley. And Hamas is effectively run by al-Qassam Brigades military commander Ahmed Jabari in Gaza, not Khalid Meshaal in Damascus nor Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City.

As such, the militarily incompetent Muqtada al-Sadr has been yanked from control of the Mahdi Army. We are seeing the natural and intended progression of this change in Iraq today.

The shelling of the 'Green Zone' (or International Zone) in Baghdad in coordination with attacks throughout southern Iraq from Basra to Baghdad are not a reaction to an al-Sadr decision any more than they are the effects of his military leadership and command. They are the fruits of Iranian labor.

The rockets used in the Green Zone attacks "were Iranian-provided, Iranian-made rockets," General Petraeus said.

Can we dismiss this from the most successful US commander in Iraq since the conflict began? Further, is it wise to also dismiss the trend of Iranian command changes across the board to operational ground commanders? And, is it wise to forget that Muqtada al-Sadr announced his seclusion and withdrawal from command (at the behest of his Iranian masters)?

In order to minimize or dismiss Iran's guiding hand in the fighting in Iraq, one must do all of these things. And this is completely illogical. Completely.

Yet, so desperate some seem to avoid any conflict with Iran, they ignore that fact that Iran has already chosen the conflict, whether we like it or not.

It is an 'Inconvenient Truth.'

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"Tit for tat"

One of the rumored frictions between Petraeus and former CENTCOM CINC "Fox" Fallon centered around how strongly to respond to threats from Iranian sponsored groups. And Sadr's men would fall under that category. Maj Gen Paul Vallely was quoted as saying CENTCOM may not have been done all that it could to prevent Iran from endangering American troops.

“The fact is that [Central Command] had the external responsibility to protect our troops in Iraq from the outside and under Fallon they failed to do it,” said retired Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, a military analyst. “We have done nothing to protect our soldiers from external threats in Iraq.”