Sadr’s Mahdi Army

I keep running across statements in the media that I hope are disinfo or something because we’re in deep trouble if the Bush regime really believes this.

Al-Sadr is believed to have about 600 hardcore followers and as many as 3,000 militia members at his command.

Many Shiites distrust al-Sadr – because of his youth and radicalism – and US officials are hoping his popularity remains limited.

As for his militia, in a country where most civilians carry guns, the few thousand members of the Al-Mahdi army do not stand out as uniquely dangerous.

The Bush administration said yesterday that the surge in violence that has swept parts of Iraq is the work of a single individual with terrorist connections, not a popular revolt.

Sadr and his small number of followers – we don’t see them as representative of a religious cause but rather as representative of political gangsterism,” said State Department spokesman Adam Ereli.

Here is Riverbend, posting from Baghdad on her blog, Baghdad Burning, Saturday, October 25, 2003

Al-Sadr has been making waves in the south and Baghdad. He is frightening and I don’t think his influence should be underestimated. He easily has over a million followers (some say it’s up to 4 million) and they practically revere him. It’s not him personally that makes him so important with his followers, it’s the fact that he is the son of a famous Shi’a cleric who was assassinated in 1999. While the majority of the middle and upper class Iraqis want a secular government, Al-Sadr seems to resonate with the impoverished, currently jobless men in the south and in some of Baghdad’s slums.

Currently, the CPA believe he was responsible for Al-Kho’i’s assassination back in April. Others suspect that he might have been responsible for Al-Hakim’s death a couple of months ago… detaining him is going to be a major problem because his followers will make sure to wreak havoc… judging from the last few months, they’ll just strike up a deal with him.

Raed Jarrar, writing from Baghdad today, April 7, 2004 in his blog, Raed in the Middle:

The uprising in Iraq is still expanding…

But I still feel that Bush and Bremer are totally out of the picture…

All what we can hear from the coalition governments’ spokesmen, and from the international media news are some fake explanations and explanations…

Let me declare some points:

AsSadr is NOT reflecting a minority of Iraqis, this is a stupid big lie.
Whether we liked him or not, he is the political and religious leader for MILLIONS of Iraqis in the southern region…
There are 15 million Iraqis living in the south, and another 5 million in Baghdad, I can say that 5 to 7 millions of them can be considered as AsSadr followers.

AsSadr is NOT a mere twenty-something year old guy, that is playing games.
Whether we liked him or not, he is a phenomenon. When people in the south of Iraq look at Muqtada AsSadr, they see the history of his father, the deep roots of his religious supporter: AlHaeri.

AsSadr is NOT a small follower of the Iranian Government; he has very bad relations with the official government of Iran, unlike Sistani and Hakim.

Middle East expert Juan Cole, in his blog *Informed Comment*

2. Talking heads both from Iraq and from the ranks of the US retired officers keep attempting to maintain that Muqtada’s movement is small and marginal. One speaker claimed that Muqtada has only 10,000 men.

In fact that is the size of his formal militia. Muqtada’s movement is like the layers of an onion. You have 10,000 militiamen. But then you have tens of thousands of cadres able to mobilize neighborhoods. Then you have hundreds of thousands of Sadrists, followers of Muqtada and other heirs of Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr. Then you have maybe 5 million Shiite theocrats who sympathize with Muqtada’s goals and rhetoric, about a third of the Shiite community. The Sadrists will now try to shift everything so that the 5 million become followers, the hundreds of thousands become cadres, and the tens of thousands become militiamen.

Judge for yourself who is more credible, the Baghdadis and ME expert Cole or the Bush gang. I know who I believe.

In the run-up to the Iraq invasion as well as in the occupation, the War Party and Americans in general have shown no sign of knowing what they were getting into. That is about to get alot of people, both Iraqi and “coalition” killed.