Muqtada al-Sadr: Lookin’ Out for Number One

It seems Iraqi powermonger Muqtada al-Sadr isn’t too happy about the hundreds of soldiers and policemen in Basra who recently got pink slips after refusing to fight during recent clashes.

This, understand, has nothing to do with the individual soldiers and policemen involved; however anyone – al-Sadr included – tries to spin it, this is all about al-Sadr maintaining his influence among the nominally-secular security forces in Basra. 1,300 people or so got sacked, and while some of that number probably aren’t hardcore idealists, the majority most likely really were, as al-Sadr points out, just following orders. His orders, mind you, not those of their (secular, rather than spiritual) commanders.

I don’t know enough about the local-level politics in Basra to make more than an educated guess, but my guess is that these folks will all be let back into the police and military (or paramilitary) forces.

That’s bad, because it would mean those forces would no longer be able to be trusted, or counted on, to perform effectively. It’s not a matter of faith, it’s a matter of insubordination, which if given the official stamp of approval pretty much makes an security force useless, if not worse than useless.

Incidentally, anyone who has studied counterintelligence should recognize a big danger sign here: Traditionally, when they wanted to “turn” someone to work for their country or organization, security services would start by asking them to do “little” things, and work up on to the big acts of espionage or treason… or whatever. Quite often, these baby steps would include, rather than “actively” doing something, merely not doing something one was expected to. By one way of thinking, over a thousand trained, armed men, working for the government, just showed that they’re actually taking orders from someone else. You could argue fairly convincingly that al-Sadr would have been better off not tipping his hand and remaining mum on the whole subject. Cowardice is excusable; insubordination is not.

Published in: General, Security | on April 14th, 2008| Comments Off on Muqtada al-Sadr: Lookin’ Out for Number One

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