Now, with one already pretty well delineated, it is time to look at the other Foreign Legion of Iran: al Sadr's Mahdi Army.
First a word from one of the followers who left (16 JUL 2006, NewsMax):
"I used to fight for free," a former member of Sadr's forces tells Newsweek, "but today the Mahdi Army receives millions of dollars every month from Iran in exchange for carrying out the Iranian agenda."Clear enough, and if you scan through news accounts from Iraq or Iraqi Blogs, you will find this to be the case. Sadr's Mahdi Army is a bought and paid for force by Iran, with Sadr the main pawn they use to control it. Actually, Sadr has no love for the current government nor the New Iraqi Army, nor Americans, nor Israeli's and, for the most part, parrots the Iranian party line very well. And they bluster with hatred and bomb blasts and killings and all other sorts of niceties one expects of a bought and paid for thug.
A word from one of his current followers (26 JUL 2006 Threatswatch.org)[bolding mine]:
Meanwhile, Sadr's followers in parliament pressed his case and made the gravest threats so far against the government. As reported in Al-Hayat, parliamentary leader Falah Shinaishal led a sit-in protest in front of Maliki's office in Baghdad, demanding that he cancel his trip in protest over attacks on the Mahdi Army as well as U.S. support for Israeli military action in Lebanon. Sahib al-Amari, noted as a leader of the Sadrist faction, warned of direct conflict between "units of the Mahdi Army on the one hand and American and Iraqi forces on the other hand if the arrests and raids against the Mahdi Army by these forces do not halt." Amari specifically pointed to "the occupying forces, with the support of the 37th Battalion in the Iraqi Army burned down a house in Sadr City and arrested an entire family." Amari further stated that U.S. troops had attacked "the office of the martyr Sadr [likely a reference to Muqtada's father] in Mahmudiya killing 10 guards and letting loose 49 prisoners who had been captured by the Sadr faction police." The article quotes Amari as ending by "warning of a flood of fighting in the streets of Iraq between the Mahdi Army and the American troops along with the government troops who support them."You see we are so nasty as to disregard the 'Sadr Police' because they are ILLEGAL and release individuals held ILLEGALLY by them. Why we are giving law and order a bad name... by enforcing law and order! Should just let vigilante justice roam throughout Sadr City, I guess.
So lets say you are Iran and have TWO Foreign Legions: one is well equipped and trained, and getting outfought in Lebanon, and the other is a scruffy group of individuals that are in your neighbors Country to cause trouble and unrest, and getting picked off slowly but surely by the New Iraqi Army and the MNF. What do you do? Why, wouldn't it be handy if you could sacrifice some of your no-account scruffians to sacrifice themselves for the better forces that have a better long-range utility?
Now lets hear some words about the Mahdi Army from some of its leaders (24 JUL 2006 Washington Times)[reg. req. link]:
Ah, the luxury of controlling external military organizations that are NO THREAT to you at home.A senior member of Muqtada al-Sadr's Iraqi Shi'ite militia, the Mahdi Army, says the group is forming a squadron of up to 1,500 elite fighters to go to Lebanon.
The plan reflects the potential of the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah to strengthen radical elements in Iraq and neighboring countries and to draw other regional players into the Lebanon conflict.
"We are choosing the men right now," said Abu Mujtaba, who works in the loosely organized following of radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. "We are preparing the right men for the job."
Mr. Mujtaba, who was interviewed in Baghdad, said some of the men have had special training but did not specify what kind.
Sheik al-Sadr's black-clad armed militia numbers in the thousands, operates throughout central and southern Iraq and is thought to be responsible for numerous killings of Sunnis.
So, all we have to do is pay some attention to the communications in and around Sadr City, keep a close watch on gatherings of men headed to various nexus points... wait for them to get into trucks/cars/buses/etc. to head out of town... and then give them a swell visit from the New Iraqi Army, backed by some aerial ordinance courtesy the US Air Force.
A big 'thank you' to the folks at the Mahdi Army for providing us with forewarning and what to look for!
Hope that Iranian money spends *real* well, wherever you end up. I suggest you spend it *quickly*.