Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – BAGHDAD – DAMASCUS WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Major Battle Forming Around Al-Amarah – 40 Miles from Iran Border – PM al-Maliki Orders Militias to Disarm – Military – Search Operations to Begin June 19 – US Forces Will be Drawn In – Iran Intervention
Night Watch: AL AMARAH – A major battle is forming around the Iraq city of Al Amarah (Amara) 185 miles southeast of Baghdad and just forty miles from Iran’s border. The city’s closeness to Iran is why I suspect Tehran has instructed Iraq Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to order Shia Militias to hand over their weapons by June 18-Wednesday or face arrest.
In the confusion of the heavy ground combat Iraqi units, trained in Iran, could enter the fighting as reinforcements for the militias and Mahdi Army headed by Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr who has just announced forming a new special group to attack the U.S. Iran may even declare its intention to enter the battle directly in the name of stability knowing it would mean direct war with the U. S., something Tehran has been years in preparing. PressTV reported al-Maliki’s ultimatum, delivered late Saturday, “Those who have heavy and medium weapons, explosives or sniper guns, must hand them over to the security forces over the next four days until June 18 in return for cash.”
This is Tehran’s timing since this statement is just one week after the Prime Minister’s visit to Iran where this latest round of fighting was planned as the Defense Ministers of both Iraq-Iran signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on military cooperation. [PRESSTV]
The first sign of joint military cooperation between Baghdad-Tehran was made earlier in the year when, after the heavy fighting in Baghdad-Basra in March and April, al-Sadr stated the Mahdi Army will no longer attack Iraqi army units but concentrate instead on U. S. forces. That fighting revealed not only the weaknesses in Iraq’s army concerning unit loyalty but U. S. military analysts with the Pentagon had to admit members of the Mahdi Army had heavily infiltrated the Iraq Army.
The two are virtually one and the same and it is significant the March fighting was started by al-Maliki against Washington and the Pentagon’s recommendation. But they are no longer controlling his decisions if they ever did; al-Maliki’s government close relations with Iran have just become more obvious.
But London-Washington are in a classic military trap, having committed large numbers of forces in a hostile region and a host government that is about to become more of an enemy. To make the trap even worse the lost alliance (UK/US), in their world of make believe that they have served the cause of stabilizing the region, Washington is eager to make one more show of force before its planned withdrawal and the Pentagon loves to display its destructive power. And that plays directly into Tehran’s hand and they know their enemy will eagerly commit large numbers of units and aircraft in a final battle in a stupid attempt to prove they can still control events on the ground and perhaps also as some “message” to Iran. But with the closeness of the Iraq Army to Shia militias the Mahdi Army will be able to listen to the battlefield communication between U. S. air-ground units and whatever Iraqi units are operating with them.
The militias may also have been sent effective anti-tank and anti-air missiles for what I am certain will be the most deadly battle Washington will have on this front and it will by no means be a brief one. Crossfirewar.com has stated repeatedly Iran does not want these UK/US units withdrawing from Iraq in strength with the potential of being useful in other regional theatres in World War III. Tehran will also use this action to have the Pentagon so heavily committed to save its units it will seriously reduce any chance of joint operations between Israel-U. S. against Iran.
Al Amarah – U. S./Iraqi units began to position themselves in and around the city of 250,000 on Friday the day before the Prime Minister’s statement. Spokesman for the Iraq Defense Ministry Major-General Mohammed al-Askari explained when the deadline expires on the 18th the next step will be “in the hands of the field commanders.” No word was given of the number of units deployed but some of the U. S. forces will be in constant communication with air units as it appears so far the Pentagon’s ground forces are initially in a supporting, back up role.
There are those in Washington who still want to prove they will leave behind an Iraq military which can secure the country without any support from regional governments. Asharq al-Awsat/Reuters report convoys of armored columns, including tanks were moving through the north side of the city as helicopters dropped leaflets calling on residents to stay inside their homes. Al Amarah is a major base of support for the Mahid Army as a local resident, Hassan Hameed observed, “We are very scared of this operation because the battle will destroy the town. Most people won’t leave their homes. We will not accept the targeting of the Mahdi Army because they provide people with services.” [ASHARQALAWSAT]
Hazim al-Araji, a representative of the Sadr organization and Member of Parliament stated the Mahdi Army will not hand over any of its members without a court order. With his and the Sadr’s organization’s contacts they know the order will not be given. Interestingly enough the head of the Al Amarah operation, Major-General Tareq Abdul Wahab, has already held meetings with al-Araji on the operation. No word was given as to what was agreed to but it was probably a more specific version of the MoU signed last week in Tehran.
They may have orchestrated the fighting and the timing of when Iraq Army units will call on U. S. ground forces to join. That means Iraq Army units will again prove to be ineffective and in collaboration with the Shia Militias and this is where the Pentagon will increase its air attacks despite the dramatic increase in loss of civilian life and urban destruction. And that is when Tehran begins to make its own ultimatum for Washington to end its involvement not only in this operation but withdraw its troops from Iraq as more reports surface of weapons-supplies from Iran streaming into Al Amarah is support of the Militias.
Washington and the Pentagon could already have complained of the weapons traffic which they have been doing for five years but especially this year as attacks against Baghdad’s International Green Zone has increased and the arming of special groups still engaging U. S. forces. This war of statements and ultimatums between Washington/Tehran will lead to widespread war between the U. S./Iran as part of Tehran’s wider war in the region.