Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Iraqi Branch of Hezbollah

Brad DeLong quotes Andrew Sullivan who quotes Michael Totten:

One reason the surge is "working" in bringing some peace to some areas in Iraq: there's a truce between Shia soldiers who have infiltrated the Iraq military under US command and the Shia militias. Duh. Totten sees beneath the spin here:

I went inside the Tactical Operations Center and spoke to the Public Affairs Officer. "What can I help you with, Mike?" he said.

"I want an on-the-record interview with Military Intelligence," I said. "Why?" he said. I told him what I had heard. "I can print rumor or fact," I said. He got me the interview.

Master Sergeant Jeffrey K. Tyler met with me privately. "It's true," he said. "Many of the Iraqi Army soldiers here are supporters of JAM.” JAM is military shorthand for Jaysh al Mahdi, or Moqtada al Sadr's radical Shia Mahdi Army militia.
"They aren't in JAM cells necessarily, but they are sympathizers. They may let JAM guys through checkpoints, for example. They aren’t out kidnapping Sunnis or anything like that. They are sympathizers, not direct actors. Almost all the Iraqi Army soldiers here are Shias."

"Is their presence here the reason we aren’t getting mortared?" I said. "Because the Mahdi Army doesn’t want to blow up their own people?"

"We think that’s probably so," he said and nodded with confidence.

I didn't hear that in the briefing when I first got there.

I bet he didn't. Michael's conclusion:

Nothing makes me more pessimistic about Iraq’s future prospects than this. The Mahdi Army is Iran’s major proxy in Iraq. It is, in effect, the Iraqi branch of Hezbollah.

And we're training them.

Oh well.