Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM) was the Shiite local militia in Baghdad at the beginning of the US occupation. JAM, like all Al Queda affiliates morphed fairly soon into a mafia like organization that used a brutal interpretation of Islam to abuse locals. It was their strategy to destabilize Baghdad just to delegitimize the US occupation. They were winning. Jaish Al Mahdi was created by Muqtada Al Sadr to protect the Shias who were targeted by Saddam’s regime for the entire 40 years he was in power, and now that the US was enacting a slow transition,a power vaccumm formed. When Petraeus formulated a five-brigade troop increase around Baghdad called the Surge, few here really understood that it was more properly termed The Slow Increase. It took months to bring 30,000 new troops into the city and Al Anbar province and configure them so they can stop a violent civil war. In a city that was little more than a pile of rubble an entirely new counter insurgency muscle had to be flexed. This was an historic moment but not one without precedent. In almost every major struggle with Empire, insurgents rebel and the empire has to send soldiers to crush it once and for all. Petraeus might as well have been Julius Caesar and Mudtada Al Sadr might was have been Vercingetorix.
The problem that had to be solved was far more politically entangled than people realize. Iran was organizing the resistance efforts. Our nemesis was easily able to introduce weapons and munitions, and an unpopular occupation was struggling to stop the supply line for the insurgency into the Baghdad province.
JAM was forcing Sunnis south and west in a violent street war that featured car bombs, masses ambushes, and snipers who killed innocents just trying to survive. They were also coming after the leaders of the opposition. Everyday, dead bodies were found, people who had been executed. When the five brigades appeared, JAM fought back violently. Every other day during March and April 2007, there was an IED scissoring into an armored fighting vehicle filed with US soldiers. Scenes of burning vehicles spewing columns of smoke into the desert sky filled out news screens. Snipers terrorized US soldiers on patrol and garnered intel on patrols day in and day out. Open markets were the targets of the insurgency mostly. This made the results so much bloodier and innocent lost seemed so much more tragic.
This was truly the most difficult part of the occupation. The US had invaded grimly determined to remove WMDs he never had. The people left with no government relied upon us to protect them. This was the best way JAM and Al Queda had to defeat us. All they had to do was show up. They did.
The struggle was engaged because Al Queda and its affiliates still need to hold some territory. It takes space to train soldiers. It tales space to establish bomb factories and propaganda production and telecommunications. The physicality of the war defined the gritty struggle. Everyday platoons geared up and cleared out every single building, floor by floor, or rubble pile by rubble pile. Then they secured the perimeter and began actively pursuing the weapons supply line. Airstrikes, drones and regular patrols closed a noose around the rebels and their underground railroad for weapons, and forced then out of the region in a complex and weeks long operation called Phantom Hammer.
Like all rebellions crushed, the only way to win is with indefinite occupation. Once the Empire takes flight, the power vacuum is filled.
From BBC this morning:
At least 50 people have been killed in a series of bombings in central Iraq, police and medical officials say.
Sixteen died in an attack on a funeral for a pro-government Sunni militiaman in a village south of Baquba, the capital of Diyala province.
Eight car bombs meanwhile exploded across Baghdad, killing at least 28 people and wounding dozens more.
There has been a surge in sectarian violence across Iraq in the past year, reaching levels not seen since 2007.