Jewish World Review April 8, 2004 / 17 Nissan, 5764
Our message to terrorists: There will be no Mogadishu
moment in Iraq
Journalists are using the words "Iraq" and "quagmire" or "Iraq" and
"Vietnam" in the same sentence again. Some weak-kneed lawmakers are calling
for more troops. Other, weaker-kneed lawmakers like Sen. Ted Kennedy
(D-Mass) are calling for a pullout. This could mean victory is nigh.
As I write this column on Tuesday, April 6, it is clear that the coup
attempted by the Muqtada al Sadr is fizzling out, though it is unclear how
long the mop up operation will take, or what will happen to al Sadr.
And as I write, Operation Vigilant Resolve, to capture or kill the Iraqis in
Fallujah who murdered and mutilated four U.S. defense contractors last week
is under way. It is unclear at this moment how long this will take, or how
many casualties the Marines will suffer in the process. But the end result
is not in doubt.
Last week was the bloodiest week in Iraq since last November. This week
could turn out to be bloodier still. And there will be other bloody weeks
before the Coalition Provisional Authority hands over sovereignty to the
Iraqi Governing Council June 30.
But rarer even than good sense from journalists are battles without
bloodshed. And the battles we are winning this week make ultimate victory
the more likely.
The most important development is the failure of Muqtada al Sadr's attempt
to create an Iranian-style theocracy in Iraq. This has lanced a boil that
was steadily growing. Al Sadr hoped that many Shi'ia would join his "Mahdi
Army" militia in the coup attempt. But they have not, and order is being
restored in the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City (named after Muqtada al Sadr's
grandfather) and the four other cities where Sadr's militia launched
It is unclear why al Sadr launched his coup attempt at this time. Perhaps
he'd received word of the warrant an Iraqi judge had issued to arrest him
for ordering the murder last year of a moderate Shi'ia cleric, Abd al Majid
al Khoei. Perhaps he thought the Marine operation in Fallujah would divert
so many resources and so much attention that the coup attempt would have a
better chance to succeed. Perhaps he feared that time was running out, that
the moderates among the Shi'ia were strengthening, as recent municipal
Whatever. The important thing is that the coup attempt failed. Order has
been restored in Sadr City, in Basra, in Nasiriya, in Kut.
Al Sadr is still dangerous. He reportedly is hiding out in the holy city of
Najaf, to which hundreds of thousands of Shi'ia will be making a pilgrimage
in a few days. He can still make big trouble. But he is dangerous in the
way a wounded bear is dangerous. The emphasis is on "wounded." The failed
coup attempt makes him weaker, more marginalized.
"Far from rebelling, the majority of Shi'ia are breathing sighs of relief,"
Michael Rubin wrote in National Review Online. An academic who speaks
Arabic and Farsi, Rubin was a political officer for the Coalition
"In Baghdad and Basra, Muqtada's vigilantes beat and harass women. Doctors,
lawyers, tribal leaders and shopkeepers repeatedly ask visiting Americans
why the Coalition has failed to rein in Muqtada al Sadr," Rubin said.
Now it is. The decision to confront al Sadr which al Sadr made for the
Coalition will lead to a short term spike in violence, but to long term
improvement, Rubin predicts.
The same is true of the Marines in Operation Vigilant Resolve. They will
take casualties flushing out the hard core Baathists and al Qaeda types in
Fallujah, and Iraqi civilians will be killed in the crossfire. But those
whom the Marines kill or capture will never again threaten the peace in
Iraq, and the example the Marines will make of them will encourage moderates
and discourage insurgents throughout the country.
By standing firm without using excessive force, our Marines and soldiers,
and our Italian, Spanish, Ecuadorian and Ukrainian allies are demonstrating
to friend and foe alike that the terrorists will not have their Mogadishu
moment in Iraq. Too bad our journalists do not have the courage our
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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a
deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan
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