"They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind" ~ Hosea 8
President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki met in Jordan to discuss the steadily deteriorating situation in Iraq; neither has faced the reality that as far as controlling future events in Iraq are concerned, both are irrelevant. Bush, like many other factional leaders in Iraq, has his own militia, arguably no longer the largest, but is in the unenviable position of being the one all the others see as occupiers and targets of opportunity. Prime Minister al-Maliki has nothing but his status as a puppet for the most hated entity currently involved in the debacle that is Iraq.
In reality, Bush lost whatever control of events he had in Iraq somewhere between "Mission Accomplished" and "Bring Them On."
Iraq dissolved into civil war in 2004 despite the continued denials of Bush and his cheerleaders in the Congress and the media. Exactly how many American Military personnel and Iraqi citizens have to die each day to make it an "official" civil war?
The largest military force in Iraq at this time is most probably the militia of Muqtada al-Sadr, better known as the Mahdi Army. Elements of this militia have infiltrated the police forces and the Iraqi National Guard. Many times the kidnappings and bombings, reported to have been carried out by insurgents dressed in police uniforms, are carried out by members of the American-trained police forces that are loyal to al-Sadr. Some police cars in Baghdad openly display the Mahdi Army insignia.
Muqtada al-Sadr has established himself as the leader of the Shia poor and the disposed young, and opposes violently those whom he sees as occupiers. This not only provides him with a huge base of supporters, but each and every day coalition forces remain in Iraq, he becomes stronger.
The Shiite’s have another militia; although it remains somewhat in allegiance to the Green Zone government, it also has its own agenda. This militia is known as the Wolf Brigade. It is known for its ruthless and barbaric tactics and contains many members that do not appear to be Arabic. One Military Intelligence Officer told me he thought they might possibly be Turks.
On one occasion members of the Wolf Brigade refused to eat in the same chow hall as the Iraqi National Guard troops and would not bivouac in the same compound; strange actions indeed for units supposedly allied to the same ruling authority.
A former three-star Shiite General formed the Wolf Brigade. Members of the brigade reportedly earn as much as 700,000 Iraqi dinars, or $400, per month — a large sum of money in Iraq today.
In December of 2004, the Wolf Brigade gained its reputation for ruthlessness with a raid coordinated by the Iraqi National Guard and US forces against insurgent forces in the Sunni stronghold of Mosul.
The success of the Wolf Brigade has given rise to several new militias operating under the names of Tiger, Scorpion and Snake. While supposedly anti-insurgent, they too have their own agendas.
Smaller militias are cropping up all over Iraq; some are just members of the local neighborhood or community, formed to protect themselves from what they see as incursions into their lives by the US Military, the Iraqi National Guard and rival militias. All have one thing in common: a genuine hate for the occupiers of their neighborhoods and their country, and those who support them. These militias have done more to restore order, water and electricity to their areas than the US with all its billion dollar reconstruction contracts.
In Northern Iraq is the Peshmerga, the Kurdish Militia. They number well over 100,000 and are busy nullifying the effects of Saddam’s "arabization" of Northern Iraq. In the mid-90’s, Saddam Hussein attempted to repopulate the Kurdish area with ethnic Arabs. The Peshmerga intend to cleanse their part of Iraq of all things Arabic. They too want the Americans out of their country, but assist them in their war against both Sunnis and Shia. The Kurds have long sought their own nation.
Out in the western Ninewa desert is the militia of Sheikh Abdullah; he rules his area of operations with an iron hand. He makes arrangements and deals with all the players in the war. The Sheikh has his compound in Rabea, in the area where Iraq, Syria, and Turkey meet. During the Iraqi elections of January 2005, the commander of the US Army unit in the area gave the Sheikh 70,000 blank ballots. The Sheikh also demands that members of his tribe caught in coalition raids be released from American detention facilities and returned to him. This has been done on many occasions; after all, the Sheikh is responsible for providing indigenous personnel to work the various military instillations in the area. Just like in Vietnam — working in the compounds during the day — attacking them at night.
The leaders of all of these militias will be reluctant to give up the new power and control they have gained to any national government. Their motives are diverse and contradictory to the formation of such a government — especially a puppet government controlled by the hated occupier. As has been true for centuries, this area will continue to be plagued with strife and conflict regardless of anything George W. Bush thinks he can accomplish with the blood of American soldiers.
All the various militias are growing in number and strength throughout Iraq. George Bush has no power to control the events in this land of tribal and ethnic loyalty. The quicker we realize this and stop sending our soldiers into this country to die in a vain attempt to prove Bush intelligent and powerful the better.
Michael Gaddy [send him mail], an Army veteran of Vietnam, Grenada, and Beirut, lives in the Four Corners area of the American Southwest.