Amide fierce fighting in Sadr City, in the Northeast outskirt of Baghdad, erupted on Sunday 04/06/2008, when Shiite “Mahdi Army” militia, led by Moqtada Sadr, clashed with USA and IRAQI army, 3 American soldiers were killed by rockets fire launched from within Sadr City. 2 US soldiers were killed in yet another barrage on the Green Zone, at 15:30 local time, and 17 more wounded while a third soldier was killed and 14 wounded in an operating base in the Rustamiya district, in Northwest Baghdad. About 2.4 millions people, almost all of them Shiites, live in Sadr City. (See - Basra test case )
On 03/24/2008 night, General David Petraeus, the commander of the USA led coalition forces in Iraq mentioned in a briefing to President Bush that he has evidence that Iran was behind the bombardment of the heavily-fortified Green Zone in Baghdad. According to sources in USA General Petraeus is expected to tell Congress this week that IRANIAN forces were involved in the recent battle for Basra. The same IRANIAN tactic is used by the “Mahdi Army” in Sadr City and the Hamas in Gaza Strip, both proxies of Iran and part of the IRANIAN network in the Middle East. (See - Green Zone 03.24.08 )
Indeed Sadr City became the “Gaza Strip” of the American Army in Iraq with similar parameters.
A. “Mahdi Army”, exactly as the Hamas in Gaza, is fighting from and among civilian population which support, in large extent, the struggle and the military activity. Behind the shelter of civilians “Mahdi Army” launches his rocket barrages on American targets in the rockets range.
B. The US army is very reluctance to send troops to fight in the crowded alleys, which will inflicts terrible casulties on the innocent population, because of humanitarian reasons but also practical reasons. US army knows that the Arab media will be flooded with pictures of civilians killed by the Americans and stories about atrocities committed by US troops will appear in all headlines in the Arab world. America soon will be blamed for “collective punishment” of 2.4 millions Shiite because of few thousands Militia men. A new wave of anti American demonstrations will spread in the Muslim and Arab world and provoke political pressure on America to stop its military activity against “civilian population”. Certainly Humanitarian organization from the Western Democracies, but also from countries like Sudan, Libya or Iran, will wonder about the use of “excessive force” against “primitive rockets”.
C. USA uses its military technology, such as Israel in Gaza, to pinpoint from the air the rocket launcher teams. Inevitably mistakes happened while targeting the rocket launchers in crowded civilian population and civilians are accidentally killed by American airstrikes on daily basis. The use of airpower, eventually, is only a partial limited response to the rockets threat.
D. The “Mahdi Army” unilateral cease fire, from 08/22/2007, which is widely credited with reducing sectarian tensions and contributing to the recent overall drop in violence, was fully exploited to reorganize, train and equip, under IRANIAN guidance, of the Shiite Militias in Iraq just the same as Hamas in Gaza Strip.
E. USA is committed to the basic humanitarian needs of Sadr city population in spite of the ongoing fighting and clashes in the neighborhood.
Despite some similarities there are also huge differences between Gaza Strip and Sadr City case.
A. All Americans in IRAQ are military or diplomatic personnel in a war zone. The real American civil life is 11,000 km away and no kindergarten or school, in any American village, is under rockets threat such as in Israel villages 11 hundreds meters (not km) away from the threat. USA has the theoretical option to leave IRAQ. Israel has not the privilege to leave Israel.
B. America can save American soldiers life and send, instead, their proxy allies, the IRAQI Army, although in question about its loyalty and determination, to do the dirty job for the Americans.
C. it is certain that USA Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice will not call upon both sides “to show restraint” in order to promote a peace process. Neither will UK Foreign Minister David Miliband express “worry” about the Humanitarian situation in Sadr City.
* The war in IRAQ entered a new stage in which “Mahdi Army” can not overcome USA army but US, at the same time, can not fully overcome “Mahdi Army” without loosing the relative stability of IRAQ and renewing a sectarian war.
* The last round of violence in IRAQ established a new balance in Iraq between the fortified Green Zone and the heavily populated Sadr city. Despite the American Military might the American Army in IRAQ is doomed to coexist with its own “Gaza Strip” - Sadr city.
* The new balance will be kept through sort of mediation, secret talks, unwritten understandings and sporadic eruptions of fighting and rocket attacks on the Green Zone.
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