Basra has always been a fave of the Mullahs. Iran had besieged Basra for nearly 6 years during the horrible Iran Iraq war with nothing to show for it but metric tonnes of martyrs. 100's of K's of casualities and failed assaults (many times using kids ducktaped together armed with plastic keys to the gates of Paradise) against fixed machine gun and blister agent kill zones. These teenage voltiguers (Besijis in Persian) were horrifically exploited for 'Karbala' Offensives essentially for naught.
Despite being Shia heavy - Basra never really swung the Ayatollah way back in the day and resisted the Iranians.
All that is so last year (millenium actually). In the last 5 years, Iran really makes the most of her natural assets like meddling and mayhem - on a regional semi hegemonic scale.
Super saavy historian, author and all around smart guy Michael Oren says
Flush and hot with victory in recent Majiles run offs - Iran's Praetorian Guard - the Revo Guards and their co dependent fanboys (Mahdi Army, JAM, 'Special Groups') most likely had an urge to surge of their own.
"In the eyes of many Middle Easterners, Iran today seems to be on a roll.
While other regimes (the Syrians, the Saudis, the Egyptians) are perceived
throughout the area as inextricably mired in corruption, Islamic heterodoxy, or
political impotence, Iran’s Shiite mullahs have maintained an image of
integrity, piety—and power.
There is much to sustain that image. From Damascus, which increasingly takes its directions from Tehran, to Bahrain and the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, where Shiite majorities seethe, Iranian influence is growing.
Through its Lebanese proxy, Hizballah, the Islamic Republic has placed
some 10,000 Katyusha rockets along Israel’s northern border and (according to
Israeli intelligence) has orchestrated almost two-thirds of all recent terrorist
attacks from the West Bank and Gaza.
Finally, over the past two years, Iranian leaders have leaned back and watched as the United States—the Great Satan—has eliminated two of their most pernicious rivals, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein."
Amer Taheri lays it out - the Mullahs were going to stage a 'Basra Awakening' of their own. And got their assets handed to them. Despite loser loving press, (like this) the mullahs reached out - to stick bloody fingers into sweetly oiled pies - and drew back a nub.
"Tehran's decision to make the gamble was based on three assumptions:
* Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki wouldn't have the courage to defend Basra
at the risk of burning his bridges with the Islamic Republic in Iran.
* The international force would be in no position to intervene in the Basra battle.
The British, who controlled Basra until last December, had no desire to return,
especially if this meant getting involved in fighting. The Americans, meanwhile,
never had enough troops to finish off al-Qaeda-in-Iraq, let alone fight Iran and
its local militias on a new front.
* The Shiite clerical leadership in Najaf would oppose intervention by the new Iraqi security forces in a battle that could lead to heavy Shiite casualties. "
"The Iranian plan - developed by Revolutionary Guard's Quds (Jerusalem) unit, which is in charge of "exporting the Islamic Revolution" - aimed at a quick victory. To achieve that, Tehran spent vast sums persuading local Iraqi security personnel to switch sides or to remain neutral.
The hoped-for victory was to be achieved as part of a massive Shiite uprising spreading from Baghdad to the south via heartland cities such as Karbala, Kut and al-Amarah. A barrage of rockets and missiles against the "Green Zone" in Baghdad and armed attacks on a dozen police stations and Iraqi army barracks in the Shiite heartland were designed to keep the Maliki government under pressure.
To seize control of Basra, Quds commanders used units known as Special Groups. These consist of individuals recruited from among the estimated 1.8 million Iraqi refugees who spent more than two decades in Iran during Saddam Hussein's reign.
They returned to Iraq shortly after Saddam's fall and started to act as liaisons between Quds and local Shiite militias.
In last month's operation, Quds commanders used the name and insignia of the Mahdi Army, a militia originally created by the maverick cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, as a cover for the Special Groups.
Initially, Quds commanders appeared to have won their bet. Their Special Groups and Mahdi Army allies easily seized control of key areas of Basra when more than 500 Iraqi security personnel abandoned their positions and disappeared into the woodwork.
Soon, however, the tide turned. Maliki proved that he had the courage to lead the new Iraqi Security Force (ISF) into battle, even if that meant confronting Iran. The ISF showed that it had the capacity and the will to fight.
Only a year ago, the ISF had been unable to provide three brigades (some 9,000 men) to help the US-led "surge" restore security in Baghdad. This time, the ISF had no difficulty deploying 15 brigades (30,000 men) for the battle of Basra.
Led by Gen. Mohan al-Freiji, the Iraqi force sent to Basra was the largest that the ISF had put together since its creation five years ago. This was the first time that the ISF was in charge of a major operation from start to finish and was fighting a large, well-armed adversary without US advisers.
During the Basra battles, the ISF did call on British and US forces to provide some firepower, especially via air strikes against enemy positions. But, in another first, the ISF used its own aircraft to transport troops and materiel and relied on its own communication system.
The expected call from the Najaf ayatollahs to stop "Shiite fratricide" failed to materialize. Grand Ayatollah Ali-Muhammad Sistani, the top cleric in Iraq, gave his blessings to the Maliki-launched operation. More broadly, the Shiite uprisings in Baghdad, Karbala, Najaf and other cities that Quds commanders had counted upon didn't happen. The "Green Zone" wasn't evacuated in panic under a barrage of rockets and missiles.
After more than a week of fighting, the Iraqis forced the Quds commanders to call for a cease-fire through Sadr. The Iraqi commander agreed - provided that the Quds force directly guaranteed it. To highlight Iran's role in the episode, he insisted that the Quds force dispatch a senior commander to finalize the accord.
The Iran-backed side lost more than 600 men, with more than 1,000 injured. The ISF lost 88 dead and 122 wounded.
Some analysts suggest this was the first war between new Iraq and the Islamic Republic. If so, the Iraqis won.
To be sure, the Iranian-backed side lost partly because Iran couldn't use its full might, especially its air force. (That almost certainly would've led to war between Iran and the US-led coalition in Iraq.)
The battle for Basra showed that Iraq has a new army that's willing and able to fight. If the 15 brigades that fought are a sample, the new Iraq may have an effective army of more than 300,000 before year's end.
But the battle also showed that the ISF still lacks the weapons systems, including attack aircraft and longer-range missiles, needed to transform tactical victories into strategic ones. The Iranian-sponsored Special Groups and their Mahdi Army allies simply disappeared from the scene, taking their weapons with them, waiting for another fight.
Tehran tried to test the waters in Basra and, as an opportunist power, would've annexed southern Iraq under a quisling administration had that been attainable at a low cost. Once it became clear that the cost might be higher than the Quds force expected, Tehran opted to back down.
Yet this was just the first round. The struggle for Iraq isn't over."
Indeed, Mookie's chief adjuctant magically cashed in his very own all season pass to the perfumed gardens of Paradise. Riyahd al- Nouri was literally shot to pieces in Najaf on Friday.
Mere metres away from a secure checkpoint - no less - in the 'heart' of Mahdiarmyland.
Great Britain, Great Satan and the new Iraqi army guys are still fighting - in a semi asymmetrical way - and so is Iran and their myriad minions.