When I saw that the movement led by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was the big winner in Iraq’s recent elections, my heart kind of sank. I don’t really care one way or the other about him, but I thought of all the American troops who fought and saw comrades die trying to corral him back in the spring of 2004, and I wondered what they thought.
So I asked around. Here are the responses I got from veterans and some others:
Bill Edmonds, Army Special Forces: “It's like all of the pain and loss were for nothing. Very similar to how I felt when Daesh retook Mosul. But in the case of Daesh, Iraq didn't have a choice. Sadr, however, killed Americans; his rise is a betrayal.”
Brian Berrey, a retired Navy SEAL: “Way too complex and in-depth for any American to grasp unless they were there and remember the kidnappings, bombings/counter bombings, and operated outside the wire (i.e. not FOBits) or lived in the red zone.”
Another security contractor: “The Sunnis aren’t going to like it.”
Retired Army Maj. Gen. Tony Taguba: “This was inevitable.”
Babak Rahimi, director of the Program for the Study of Religion and Third World Studies, University of California-San Diego: “I'm not surprised at all. He has been working for this victory since 2007. He finally did it. But more important are his new ties to Iran and his diplomatic clout in the region.”
Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni: “An answer to Iran's prayers.”
Retired Army Gen. Sean MacFarland, after stating that Sadr may not prevail in post-election bargaining: “Who would support Sadr from outside Iraq given his hostility toward both Iran and the West? The only two candidates are Russia and China. Neither would be good. So, I'm keeping my fingers crossed."
An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington, June 15, 2005. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the Guantanamo prison against critics who want it closed by saying U.S. taxpayers have a big financial stake in it and no other facility could replace it at a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday. (Reuters/Jason Reed JIR/CN)
The Pentagon is sending nearly 1,000 more troops to the Middle East as part of an escalating crisis with Iran that defense officials are struggling to explain.
The Marine lieutenant colonel removed from command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May was ousted over alleged "misconduct" but has not been charged with a crime, Task & Purpose has learned.
Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala, 42, who was removed from his post by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division on May 7, has since been reassigned to the command element of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and a decision on whether he will be charged is "still pending," MEF spokeswoman 1st Lt. Virginia Burger told Task & Purpose last week.
"We are not aware of any ongoing or additional investigations of Lt. Col. Zavala at this time," MEF spokesman 2nd Lt. Brian Tuthill told Task & Purpose on Monday. "The command investigation was closed May 14 and the alleged misconduct concerns Articles 128 and 133 of the UCMJ," Tuthill added, mentioning offenses under military law that deal with assault and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.
"There is a period of due process afforded the accused and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said.
When asked for an explanation for the delay, MEF officials directed Task & Purpose to contact 1st Marine Division officials, who did not respond before deadline.
The investigation of Zavala, completed on May 3 and released to Task & Purpose in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that he had allegedly acted inappropriately. The report also confirmed some details of his wife's account of alleged domestic violence that Task & Purpose first reported last month.