Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 29, 2008

Sadr's Personnal Management Lesson

To successfully lead people one has to know what incentives will motivate them and which will not. Here is Sadr giving a lesson to Maliki.

Sadr ordered calm and asked his followers to distribute Korans and olive branches to Iraqi police checkpoints.
Iraqi forces launch major offensive, March 26


After a Friday deadline for gunmen to surrender their weapons and renounce violence expired with few complying, al-Maliki's office announced a new deal, offering Basra residents unspecified monetary compensation if they turn over "heavy and medium-size weapons" by April 8.
US warplanes widen airstrikes in Iraq, March 29


AP Television News footage showed a group of about a dozen uniformed police, their faces covered with masks to shield their identity, being met by Sheik Salman al-Feraiji, al-Sadr's chief representative in Sadr City.

Al-Feraiji greeted each policeman and gave them a copy of the Quran and an olive branch as they handed over their guns and ammunition.
US warplanes widen airstrikes in Iraq, March 29

Some incentives to help and some don't. Not only in the specific case above, but what Sadr is offering and delivering to the people is in general much more welcome than what Maliki offers and delivers.

So it is a good lesson, but it is unlikely that Maliki will learn from it.

Like many bad managers he assumes that the greed that motivates him is also the driving force within other people.

That's stupid.


AFP differes in the tale from todays AP story above.

A top Sadr aide in eastern Baghdad, Salman al-Afraiji, told AFP several Iraqi soldiers had come to the cleric's Sadr City office and offered to lay down their own weapons.

"We told them they should keep their arms. We gave them a Koran and they went back," he said.
Sadr orders militia to reject PM's call to surrender arms

Posted by b on March 29, 2008 at 17:15 UTC | Permalink


Same old story for The US. We always back the greedy, murdering thieves of the world. God forbid we back the nationalists, who want to share the nations wealth with the masses. If we can't control them, we don't want them.

Posted by: Ben | Mar 29 2008 20:07 utc | 1

I think even Maliki himself might agree with you. He said in an interview a while back that he didn't want to be prime minister, and would like to step down. But of course he can't, as the US and the UIA cannot agree on anyone else. You want Ahmad Chalabi as PM?

Maliki is not charismatic and he doesn't master the situation, but he is stuck. You can see it in his face.

I have seen the same thing in two successive directors of the Jordanian organisation I work with. Their faces grew palid and puffy. They drank too much, they smoked too much, but the Palace would not let them stand down. The health of one was ruined. The stress is worse in the Arab world, because of the structure of organisations. Only the chief can take even low-level decisions, and of course he has to sign every paper at any level.

So maybe one should not be too hard on Maliki.

That said, there are aspects of Maliki's policies that I find disappointing. For example, the refusal to extend a hand to the Sunnis, the Shi'ite partisanship. It is not clear to me to what extent this is his own point of view, or pressure from the party. I am not convince it is only outside pressure.

Posted by: Alex | Mar 29 2008 20:24 utc | 2

When you live in times of terror, when everything is a conspiracy, then everyone must play the detective. - walter benjamin

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 29 2008 20:42 utc | 3


i fail to comprehend your post @2 at all. not even in the widest possible sense

maliki is a goon. & a corrupt & venal one. there is more than sufficient evidence to not only implicate him in corruption but also that of murder. he is not some mere administrator - he has blood on his hands filthy as that of that other pantin petraeus. maliki particpates in the crimes - he is not aloof from them

there are many puppets who share maliki's morality but he reminds me especially of that corrupt cockroach thieu - who delighted in the massacring of his own people

puppets are & should be held responsible for their crimes. as all the quislings of the past have been punished for their crimes so should he - he is after all responsible for the systematic assassination of his people but especially of intellectuals

in the final analysis though, alex it must be apparent to you that all the 'governance' in iraq has been decided one way or other within the walls of washington

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 29 2008 20:58 utc | 4

cockburn on iraq

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 29 2008 22:05 utc | 5

al jazeera has footage of iraq police officials in baghdad giving their arms to the sadr army

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 29 2008 22:06 utc | 6


I'm sorry you take this point of view. Usually, I am in agreement with your views.

Yes, Maliki is a quisling, and he should have had the strength to say no and step down, whatever the pressures. He is a weak man. He is not dominant, not a Hitler, Stalin, or Saddam.

"blood on his hands". I am trying to think of an occasion where he has ordered killings. None spring to mind but there may be; I am ready to stand corrected. Rather he has not stopped others.

I think the trouble you may be having is in believing that a weak personality could be chosen as chief executive of a state. Obviously it was quite common when head of state was hereditary; there are endless cases in history. The example you cite of Thieu; in my memory he was a strongman, not at all comparable with Maliki.

I am not defending Maliki, merely trying to explain what happened.

Posted by: Alex | Mar 29 2008 22:34 utc | 7


i am not angry with you, alex. with your posts. you add much here. & i am thankful for that

apart from the overall fact that his 'governance' cultivated the death sqauds he claims to oppose. his relation with al hakim speaks for itself & given the fact that he has clearly followed the orers of his masters both in washington & in tehran. this schoolmaster is in fact exactly like thieu - the saigon showman who couldn't flex his political musceles outside of saigon or american firebases

a quisling is necessarily weak - whether it is a petain, a thieu or a malaki - but some try to work both sides of the street & it is always the people who do the suffering

& mr maliki has not only not helped his people, he has, on the contrary added immeasurably to their tragedy

he is hardly the head of a state. none exists today. either a government. or a state. barely a county. only a people & they are being massacred in numbers that beggar belief

alex, i hope i understand, that you are not his advocate

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 29 2008 23:33 utc | 8

lol, i just heard some funny propaganda.

"On The Fly" Iraq Offensive Surprised U.S.

ha ha ha, i'm shocked

Officials Say Iraqi PM Acted "Impulsively" And Fighting Could Roll Back A Whole Year Of Progress

the caption under the video?

The U.S. military is sending advisors to help the Iraqi army coordinate an attack against Shiite insurgents attempting to overthrow the government.

oh really? nothing about them responding to being targeted??

The Iraqis didn't ask permission, they just went, which seems to have caught President Bush by surprise.

;) did i mention i was shocked too?

more yada yada and then the punchline

But helping the Iraqis win in Basra could throw a monkey wrench into plans for withdrawing American troops.

do tell.

badger has another great post

Posted by: annie | Mar 30 2008 1:52 utc | 9

err, little glitch on those italics.

can you tell which words are mine?


Posted by: annie | Mar 30 2008 1:54 utc | 10

British forces based in Basra have undertaken to offer a security umbrella over Iraqi airspace at along the border. This is in order to be able to offer [air] support to the Iraqi government forces in the event of their attacking Mahdi Army locations or groups, which are getting closer to points on the Iraq-Kuwait border.

shit , this sounds a lot to me like the british are going to join the airbombing campaign. pulling out all the stops eh?

Posted by: annie | Mar 30 2008 2:08 utc | 11

the only thing they needed the iraqi army for was initiating this fiasco.

i don't buy for one millisecond this was either a maliki inspired mission or some attempt to flush a few criminals out of basra.

they knew damn well things were going to erupt if they invaded basra which is why they circled sadr city and attacked hilla.

cheney probably fandangled some deal w/maliki to allow them to go in and smash mahdi, all they needed was cover so it wouldn't look like exactly what it is, the invaders wiping out the shia resistance.

of course things were going to spin out of control. you can't massacre people w/airpower and pretend like you are defending yourself!


Posted by: annie | Mar 30 2008 2:18 utc | 12


So maybe one should not be too hard on Maliki.

Have you read any of the humanitarian reports on Iraq since the invasion started? Do you have any idea of how many millions of Iraqis are dead, wounded or displaced? Do you realize that the country that sits on top of 10% of the World's oil reserves is facing massive starvation because Maliki's government has cut the food rations? Do you realize how many Iraqi baby's are forced to drink water laced with excrement because the Maliki government is not providing them drinking water or building purification plants?

He rules over death squads, torture, random house raids, prisons overflowing, ordering attacks on his own population and this coming from a man that the was the leader of the Dawa Party when the West labelled it a terrorist organization that attacked and killed Westerners before the invasion of Iraq. And we are supposed to feel sympathy for him? Do you know that the Maliki government has tens of billions of dollars sitting in US banks earning money for American bankers while his people live in poverty? I've read ridiculous posts on this site before but that one takes the cake.

Posted by: Sam | Mar 30 2008 2:46 utc | 13

persoanaly, i think of maliki as a wet limp worthless dick. where was it i read he was approved by bush because his weakness was considered an asset? badgers? hard to blame a guy with a reputation like that?

not for me it ain't. he care nothing for the people of iraq. he lives in some weird bubble w/genocide surrounding him.

while i wouldn't think it rediculius someone would instinctively shy awat from blaming him, i would suggest rethinking your position alex. don't get sucked into an image. if he had an ounce of honor there is always this option.

Posted by: annie | Mar 30 2008 3:44 utc | 14

yikes, time to search for my glasses. lol

Posted by: annie | Mar 30 2008 3:47 utc | 15

U.S., British Widen Role in Iraqi Government's Offensive in Basra

Early Sunday, the U.S. military said American ground troops had joined Iraqi troops in battles in Basra against the Mahdi Army, a militia loyal to Sadr. A U.S. airstrike killed at least 16 suspected militiamen after Iraqi forces came under heavy fire, the military said. British forces fired artillery in support of Iraqi forces.
The U.S. military reported that fighting also continued in Sadr City, the sprawling Shiite district of the capital controlled by the Mahdi Army. In overnight battles in Sadr City, U.S. soldiers returning fire killed nine insurgents planting roadside bombs or firing at soldiers with guns and rocket-propelled grenades, the military said.
The U.S. military said it had killed 48 fighters in separate engagements over the past two days in Baghdad.
In Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, Katyusha rockets fired at the Basra police headquarters in the center of the city killed four people, according to Iraq's Interior Ministry.
Iraqi army and police forces reported gaining control in the southern province of Dhi Qar after intense gun battles with the Mahdi Army, police commanders reported. But gunmen still control areas in the northern and northeastern parts of the province.

The U.S. military reported that two American soldiers were killed Saturday when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in eastern Baghdad. No further details were available.

Posted by: b | Mar 30 2008 7:47 utc | 16


He rules over death squads, torture, random house raids, prisons overflowing, ordering attacks on his own population ...

Rule over? You are joking. The man is completely powerless. Annie's persoanaly, i think of maliki as a wet limp worthless dick is absolutely right. He doesn't rule over the Green Zone, let alone the rest of Iraq.

If he had any courage, he would resign, but he doesn't even have that. I seem to remember from the interview, that he thinks that someone has to do the job, an unpleasant job which he would prefer not to. And that in a sense he thinks that he is serving his country. Personally I think he was wrong, and should resign anyway. It would be better for him personally. He is stuck in a vortex of pressures from the US, from the Shi'a, and from the Kurds, and he is incapable of coping with the problems.

This is not a question of my personal sympathies, we are making a judgement about Maliki's personality.

Posted by: Alex | Mar 30 2008 7:59 utc | 17

Sadr is both clever and wise to call a halt to the fighting. He has already shown his willingness and ability to fight. He has shown that the loyalty of the Iraqi army and police to the government is shaky and also that the Iraqi military can do nothing without U.S./UK back up and air power. There is nothing more to be gained by more fighting.

And so now Sadr is showing his ability to deescalate. It is probably crucial for him to demonstrate that it's the government that is responsible for the fighting and not him. After this any continued fighting will be viewed as Maliki's fault.

He will likely try to keep his militia intact awaiting a U.S. withdrawl. He can take over after that.

P.S. none of this is to suggest that Sadr is a nice guy.

Posted by: Lysander | Mar 30 2008 17:22 utc | 18

@Lysander - I agree - a clever move.

One of Pat Lang's commentators has some thoughts on why Maliki (likely) started this:

Maliki, along with all the other Iraqi "patriots" in the Green Zone, must read the tea leaves as well as we do back home. Irrespective of November's winner, the US cannot sustain its current level of commitment in "Mess"-opatamia. Its army is breaking down and wheels will really begin to fly off by the end of 2008. So, there is no time like the present (and maximum strength) to drag your partner's army into an effort to knock off your chief rival and *his* army.
Maliki knows he'll be left to the mobs in the near future. While holding off the Sunni and Kurds may be possible with the support of his co-religionists, he cannot do so while simultaneously fighting Sadrists (nationalists) for control of the key prizes (Baghdad, Basra and southern oil).

Posted by: b | Mar 30 2008 17:56 utc | 19

Interesting - the Angry Arab notes: notes:

Did you see Muqtada As-Sadr on AlJazeera after two years of absence from the media? He is very changed, in appearance and in personality. As if he underwent a PR course. He never used to smile in interviews: in fact, he used to scold and sneer at journalists. In today's interview: he did not stop smiling, and he seemed so far more articulate. He used to insert the expression "if the expression is correct" (Idha Sahha At-Ta`bir) in every sentence, and he rarely used it today. He also said that he loves Sunnis: you would believe him if his sectarian militia has not been killing Sunnis. He is at once critical of Iran, and supportive of Iran: but he criticizes Iran more than say, the Sadr militia and the Da`wah militias in power.
The whole interview isn't on youtube but Al Jazeera in English has a video with some cuts from the Sadr interview.

He has lost some weight, the baby face is gone and he is very attentive. Good sonor voice, good gestics, ... impressive and certainly underestimated when you rely on "western" propaganda.

Together with the huge PR victory he just gained through defying Malikis assault this is gaining him more creed for the fight after the U.S. retreat.

Posted by: b | Mar 30 2008 19:43 utc | 20>NYTimes is reporting on a ceasefire deal between Maliki and Sadr - apparently hammered out with representatives of the government. Sadr is issuing a 9 point set of demands, that the government hasn't yet responded to (odd that representatives of the government were part of the negotiations, but no comment). Yet as fighting still continues in Basra and Baghdad, early returns on Maliki's fate don't look so good:

Many Iraqi politicians say that Mr. Maliki’s political capital has been severely depleted by the campaign and that he is now in the curious position of having to turn to Mr. Sadr, a longtime rival and now his opponent in battle, for a solution to the crisis.

Maybe tiny dancer Maliki can get a job being ringmaster for a flea circus, after this blows over, if it does.

Posted by: anna missed | Mar 31 2008 5:35 utc | 21

McClatchy: Iranian general played key role in brokering Iraq cease-fire

Iraqi lawmakers traveled to the Iranian holy city of Qom over the weekend to win the support of the commander of Iran's Qods brigades in persuading Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr to order his followers to stop military operations, members of the Iraqi parliament said.
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.
...The Qom discussions may or may not bring an end to the fighting but they almost certainly have undermined Maliki - who made repeated declarations that there would be no negotiations and that he would treat as outlaws those who did not turn in their weapons for cash. The blow to his own credibility was worsened by the fact that members of his own party had helped organize the Iran initiative.
In another blow to Maliki, his security advisor, Saleem Qassim al Taee, known as Abu Laith Al-Kadhimi, was killed in the fighting in Basra. The Dawa party member had lived in exile under Saddam's regime for 20 years.

Posted by: b | Mar 31 2008 6:08 utc | 22

This agreement follows the model of the agreement which put an end to the first battle of Falluja in April 2004. Once it becomes evident that military victory cannot be achieved, an agreement is quickly reached. The Shi'a don't want to see their cousins being killed in large numbers.

You notice the difference from the later battle of Falluja, where the US military ploughed slaughtering brutally through the whole city. But then who in the US military cares about a bunch of hajjis?

Agreed it is essentially a victory for Sadr. The power of Sadr has been demonstrated, with demonstrations and conflict across the south. The agreement is a cease-fire in place (if it is respected, though I think it will be). The scene is set for much greater Sadrist success in the elections in October.

So what is the US going to do about that? The Sadrists are openly anti-occupation.

Personally I think that the occupation is grinding remorselessly and inevitably to its end. Never mind what anyone says in Washington, Bush, Cheyney, McCain, Clinton. And this was another stage on the road. Downhill all the way. The question for the US is how is that fact going to be handled delicately, to retain US interests. A symbolic figleaf can be maintained in Baghdad, if it is done nicely. But not more.

I know commenters may come back and say, no-one in Washington is envisioning pulling out, imperial America and all that. I know that. My position is that there are severe limits on US power, and the US is not free to choose.

Posted by: Alex | Mar 31 2008 6:54 utc | 23

I've just been listening to Patrick Cockburn of the Independent on the radio, good man. His point: defeat for Maliki. More important, the Surge has been shown to be a mirage, as the whole of Baghdad had to be clamped down with a 24-hour curfew (I add: reminiscent of the curfew after the Askariya bombing in Samarra).

Posted by: | Mar 31 2008 6:59 utc | 24

#24 by me.

Posted by: Alex | Mar 31 2008 7:32 utc | 25

This whole episode only serves to underline what the Brits have come to understand for a while now - that by and large the coalition of the willing has become irrelevant to the inertia they have set into motion in Iraq. In a nutshell, they have become victimized by their belief in, or disregard for, the mass of Iraqi people, that in order to occupy a country of this size and population with the amount of manpower they were willing to commit, they had to rely on a top down imposition of power through a divide and conquer strategy in order to prevent any pan-nationalist movement from developing. And this they have done with a brutal vengeance, destroying first national security (the largely intact army)and the institutions of cultural history, then with the CPA - the economy, its political balance, the professional, intellectual, and secular class, along with its social institutions. Then in their frustration, they bombed the remaining infrastructure into crap, set off a civil war, and sent millions into exile. What they have created is a failed state with virtually no political cohesion or popular support, and populated almost exclusively by former Saddam era exiles looking to make a killing in the green zone.

In light of these circumstances, it should come as no surprise that below the official surface explanations of what is happening in Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr, champion and tireless advocate of the poor and dispossessed has, AS A RESULT OF EVERY POLICY PUT INTO MOTION BY THE U.S. finds himself an ever and rapidly expanding constituency of more and more poor and dispossessed. Just how many he has come to represent and how much power that represents has just smacked Nuri al-Maliki upside the head. And there's not a goddamn thing he - or the U.S. can do about it.

Posted by: anna missed | Mar 31 2008 8:54 utc | 26

We've just seen the Iraqi version, bloody though hopefully not as bloody and destructive, of last year Lebanon war, when IDF hoped to crush the Hezbullah, went in unprepared, and got spanked. The results will probably be similar, with a strengthened Sadr that would do quite well if the fall elections are maintained, and a Maliki whose days in power may well be numbered.

Of interest, too, is the mention at Gorillasguides that sizable Kurdish troops were sent to Basrah as part of the deal with Dawa and SCIRI. I wonder if the failed assault meant that the Peshmergas didn't fight too hard, which could lessen the increasing anger Shias would feel after their involvement there. I also wonder to which extent Hakim and Maliki would really support the Kurds if Turkey came back in force - not to mention that their support might not be impressive even if they tried, if one considers the Basrah fiasco.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Mar 31 2008 10:59 utc | 27

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