Ceasefires In Iraq Go Through Iran's Quds Force
It should not go unnoticed that Iranian Quds Force commander Brigadier General Qassem Suleimani issued the cease-fire to the Mahdi Army.
The backdrop to Sadr's dramatic statement was a secret trip Friday by Iraqi lawmakers to Qom, Iran's holy city and headquarters for the Iranian clergy who run the country.
There the Iraqi lawmakers held talks with Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Qods (Jerusalem) brigades of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and signed an agreement with Sadr, which formed the basis of his statement Sunday, members of parliament said.Ali al Adeeb, a member of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki's Dawa party, and Hadi al Ameri, the head of the Badr Organization, the military wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, had two aims, lawmakers said: to ask Sadr to stand down his militia and to ask Iranian officials to stop supplying weapons to Shiite militants in Iraq.
If Muqtada al-Sadr held the power he is attributed in major media reports circulating pervasively, the ceasefire would not have required Iran's Quds Force commander's co-signature like a father on his son's first car loan.
When US commanders discuss arms shipments from Iran to Iraqi groups they are often dismissed or even derided (along with their Commander in Chief) for trying to engineer a war with Iran. Perhaps Iraqi lawmakers actually asking Iran to stop the weapons shipments will resonate among those who roll their eyes at US commanders on the subject.
If you're not familiar with him, perhaps readers would like to meet Brigadier General Qassem Suleimani. His Quds Force was believed to have "attempted to provide both explosives and upwards of $900,000 to [now dead former commander of al-Qaeda in Iraq] Abu Musab Zarqawi, with the intention of him carrying out attacks on U.S. and European embassies and commercial centers in five Gulf states." _Al-Sharq al-Awsat _ reported in May 2004 that then-Iranian president Khatami pulled the plug on the operation when he learned of it for fear only of the violent American retaliation that would ensue.
Such Dangerous Liaisons between Iran and al-Qaeda for major operations are too widely dismissed by analysts because of the theological and political differences between Shi'a Iran and Sunni al-Qaeda. The true 'dangerous liaisons' are those between said analysts and this critically flawed logic of irreconcilable differences and pervasive dislike and distrust among terrorist groups and state sponsors who share a common enemy.
You may recall that Quds Force operators killed a US soldier in a kidnapping operation, after which they executed the four kidnapped US soldiers on the side of a road outside Karbala, Iraq.
We've cited Bill Roggio in our DailyBriefings regarding the recent conflict between the Iraqi government and the Mahdi Army. And it is worth noting that Bill reminds again Monday in also noting the important McClatchy report that "[t]he Iraqi military, for its part, is moving more forces to Basra. The Mahdi Army has taken significant casualties in Baghdad, Basra, and the greater South after seven days of fighting."
However, Vali Nasr, the author of The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future, said in an interview that "Al-Sadr achieved what he wanted. He stood his ground, made his point and showed he has the real power in the south, not his rivals." Muqtada al-Sadr's Shi'a rivals in the south are the Badr Brigades of ISCI and Fadhila, which controls the governorship of al-Basra province and holds sway over much of the critical oil operations there.
That said, we interpret that if anyone "got what he wanted" among the bad actors, it was General Suleimani and Iran, not Sadr, whose usefulness to the Iranians no longer extends much farther than his father's name. At the same time, it cannot be discounted that the Mahdi Army uprising from Baghdad all the way to Basra was combated by the Iraqi Army and security forces with limited assistance from Coalition forces - and not the other way around.