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Dan's Iraq Report: 2003-11-06

| 8 Comments
Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from Iraq that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Our Winds of War global coverage of the War on Terror is a separate briefing today, and both are brought to you by Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis. Top Topics * Iraqi Shi'ite leader Moqtada al-Sadr has executed an apparent 180 degree ideological shift away from opposition to the American military presence in Iraq, referring to the American military as peace-loving people and guests and calling upon Iraqis to focus on the real enemy - the Baathist remnants of Saddam Hussein's government. * Former Iraqi Vice President Tariq Aziz has told the US that Saddam Hussein refused to order a counter-attack because his Franco-Russian contacts informed him that the US invasion was a ruse or a feint. Aziz also sheds some light on the lack of planning or the Iraqi side as well as some of the statements made before the war on the alleged "red line" perimeter that existed around Baghdad. Other Topics Today Include: CIA gets the Mukhabarat stash; Iraqi judges assassinated in An Najaf and Mosul; Iraqi Neighborhood Council member killed; al-Douri connection to the Chinook attack; European Muslims traveling to Iraq; and Saddam Hussein's plans for long-range missiles.
REPORTS FROM THE FIELD * The CIA has seized what looks like the mother lode of files from the old Iraqi Mukhabarat archives. The files cover everything from the names of every serving Mukhabarat operative and their paid agents to documentation of pay-offs to win support for the Iraqi government in the Arab world and elsewhere. * Muhan Jabr al-Shuwaili, the top judge of the Najaf governorate, has been kidnapped and murdered by Baathist agents. Al-Shuwaili headed up the Baath Investigative Commission that sought to probe complaints against former regime officials. Also assassinated was Ismail Yussef Saddek, who was gunned down in Mosul in front of his house. * Iraqi blogger Zeyad has his own thoughts on all of the "spontaneous demonstrations" of the Saddam era as well as the American reaction to the cheering Iraqi villagers in Baisa. * Mustafa Zaidan al-Khaleefa, the head of the Karkh Neighborhood Council in Baghad, was killed in a drive-by while heading towards his home in central Baghdad. * Middle East Newsline reports that Sunni guerrillas are being trained in the use of SA-7 missiles by Baathists loyal to Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. This is significant because the US has identified al-Douri as the connection between the Baathists and Ansar al-Islam and an al-Qaeda website posted a claim of responsibility for the recent downing of a US Chinook helicopter. * The US has captured two former Iraqi generals in Fallujah along with a huge ammunition cache. THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE * European Muslims appear to be answering bin Laden's call to arms and heading to Iraq to fight coalition forces there. The UK Times via Rantburg also suggests that those jihadis recruited in Britain are fighting as an organized group, a probable indication that al-Qaeda UK is likely involved here. * JK: Meanwhile, back in the USA, the leaked Democratic Party Intelligence Committee memo is raising a stir. Instapundit has links to some important aspects of the memo missing from the media coverage. * JK: Fawaz Turki, a columnist in the Saudi Arabian paper Arab News, has published "Revisionist Thoughts on the War in Iraq." He now says that he was wrong to oppose the war, and cites some pretty compelling reasons why. WMD HUNT * US investigators shifting through Saddam Hussein's files have learned that he sought to acquire long-range missiles with assistance from Serbia and North Korea. ETCETERA * Which "cards" have we captured so far? The CENTCOM list. And the visual version of "Ba'ath Poker." * The troops are still there. So is the Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops. American, British and Australian. Anyone out there with more information, incl. the Poles and Czechs? [updated Nov. 2, 2003] * And don't forget the "Toys for Iraq" campaign!

8 Comments

Hmm, wonder if there's any connection between these 2 items:

"Iraqi Shi'ite leader Moqtada al-Sadr has executed an apparent 180 degree ideological shift..."

and

"The CIA has seized what looks like the mother lode of files from the old Iraqi Mukhabarat archives. The files cover everything from the names of every serving Mukhabarat operative and their paid agents to documentation of pay-offs to win support for the Iraqi government in the Arab world and elsewhere."

I could be wrong here, but I believe that Al-Sadr has always been a pretty vocal opponent of Saddam's regime. So I don't think that there is any relationship.

As a Shiite cleric, he's probably not a big fan of Saddam's. Just because he was vocal about his opinion against US troops in Iraq doesn't mean he had any love for the Baathist Regime..

If he's in any government's pay, it's Iran's (and odds on that are good, see Dan's previous briefings and our Iran Reports).

Which is why his reversal is so surprising to me, and makes me wonder about other strings being pulled. Nothing to back it up, just wondering aloud what's up here because it doesn't fit.

Maybe he is talking nice to lull his opponents to sleep.

Tough to say -- only future events will tell.

MG

Although I wouldn't believe it of the French, could it be that the Russians were messing with Saddam's mind at our request?

I'm not sure, but the Russians were getting intel on the Chechen al-Qaeda from Saddam Hussein (who appears to have been playing a double game in regards to both al-Qaeda and the West) and as such were not troubled by US accusations of an al-Qaeda connection. There is also a plausible case to be made for the Russians being the ones who took up Saddam Hussein's WMD collection prior to the war.

I wrote up a special analysis on all of this awhile back that I'll have to dig up and post.

As for Sadr, if the US found proof positive that he's in bed w/ Tehran (he first started getting nasty after he met w/ Ayatollah Khamenei during a friendly trip to Iran) and confronted him with it he may have decided to moderate his tone. The Mahdi Army is still active and until he disbands it he should be regarded as a potential if not actual trouble-maker.

I think Sadr's turning point came a few weeks ago when he tried to create a seperate "Islamic" governing council independent of the coalition-supported one, only to see most Iraqi Shi'as, including the leading ayatollahs, balk at the idea. Then, a couple weeks later, it was leaked to the Washington Post that the Bush Administration had now abandoned its policy of treading lightly with him, and had decided to crack down on him and his supporters.

Bottom line is that Sadr saw the writing on the wall. The Americans were coming after him, and he couldn't count on the Shi'a masses to rush to his defense when they did. Thus he decided that his best bet was to do an about-face regarding his attitude towards the Americans and not try to provoke an insurrection, at least not for the time being.

As always, thanks for the compilation of links. Quite useful.

This Moqtada al-Sadr had a very serious reason to change his optics and there are very few things that can dramatically change one’s mind. First is a very strong impact with a new and promising idea, which I guess it is not the case here, and then it is a pecuniary reason which most of the times can be stronger than any ideology. Think for yourselves!

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