Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Hey Moe! Implications of al-Sadr Return to Iraq
On 5 January 2011 the Washington Post reported that “Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr returns to Iraq after self-imposed exile (see http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/05/AR2011010500724.html?wpisrc=nl_natlalert)
Photo Source: Bassem Tellawi- Associated Press via the Washington Post.
Sadr has evolved from faction leader to an important piece of the Iraqi governmental puzzle. The memory of battles in and around “Sadr City” are still somewhat fresh. Sadr is a true wild card, one that bode well or not for Iraqi and US interested. He has done many things right to position himself as a keystone in the new Iraqi government.
He has done well to retain the loyalty of his followers and pays attention to the small things that impact loyalty such as visiting the grave of his father upon his return. Sadr also was the beneficiary of a deal reportedly brokered by Iran.
What does all this have to do with Military Information Support Operations?
I believe there is a great deal at stake because Iraq and its new government are now in charge of their own destiny, unless something really bad happens such as an increase in sectarian violence, a power grab by Sadr or some other development that pushed Iraq back on the brink of disaster.
Now is the time for contingency planning by Executive Branch Strategic Communications, State Department Policy & Public Diplomacy, MISO personnel. Alternative scenarios need to be developed and considered. Intelligence and fact gathering needs to be on-going and file footage for potential information operations should be compiled.
Additionally it would be useful to track press releases and other activity by the Maliki government as well as profile and track the public affairs apparatus of the Sadr organization.