The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Mahdi Army on Iran "break"

Let's take a break from this sectarian warfare, go see our pals in Iran, and let the Americans take out the Sunnis for us. We can come back when they're ready to leave. That's seems to be the thinking of the Mahdi Army and their allies in the Iraqi government, anyway:

Senior commanders of the Mahdi army, the militia loyal to the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, have been spirited away to Iran to avoid being targeted in the new security push in Baghdad, a high-level Iraqi official told the Guardian yesterday.
On the day the Iraqi government formally launched its crackdown on insurgents and amid disputed claims about the whereabouts of Mr Sadr, the official said the Mahdi army leadership had withdrawn across the border into Iran to regroup and retrain.

"Over the last three weeks, they [Iran] have taken away from Baghdad the first and second-tier military leaders of the Mahdi army," he said. The aim of the Iranians was to "prevent the dismantling of the infrastructure of the Shia militias" in the Iraqi capital - one of the chief aims of the US-backed security drive.