04 December 2007

CLC versus the Mahdi Army

The area south of Baghdad, mostly rural and mixed Sunni/Shiite, was once known as the notorious "Triangle of Death". It was once Al-Qaeda stomping grounds and a hub for trafficking weapons and fighters into Baghdad. Now, the area has seen a sharp drop in violence and it's in large part due to the Conerned Local Citizens (CLC). COL Ferrell from MND-C talks about the improvements the CLC makes:

"With the combined efforts of the coalition, the Iraqi security forces and the concerned local citizens, our area has experienced a dramatic drop in attack and violence. In the meantime, the towns of Arab Jabour, Abu Waitha and Madhariyah are experiencing rebirth through the hard-fought efforts of the people. Schools are back in session. Stores are opening. Markets are starting to pick up. What you see is local citizens are taking back their towns. We see this across all of our region. They want a normal life. They're starting to get back to that normal life."

Since the CLC movement has worked well in quelling violence in the area south of Baghdad, Diyala province, Ameriyah, and the Adhamiya district of Baghdad, you think we could just team up with the Mahdi Army to flush out the terrorists in predominantly Shiite areas. Well, no. The Mahdi Army has its mitts in seemingly every aspect of services that the government is supposed to be providing, and one of Sadr's folks recently lashed out at the prospect of CLC or and Awakening movement in Basrah. They don't see the benefit in cooperating with "the occupier". Mr. Sadr explains:

"I say this to the evil Bush -- leave my country," Sadr said in a statement issued by his office in the Shiite holy city of Najaf. "We do not need you and your army of darkness," he said. "We don't need your planes and tanks. We don't need your policy and your interference. We don't want your democracy and fake freedom. Get out of our land."

While the Sadrists do have members in Parliament, most of their money is coming from control of services. The only way to reduce JAM and other Shiite militia influences on services and infrastructure is for the Iraqi government to bolster it's reconstruction efforts as well as stop taking part in the corruption that enables these militias to exist.