Thursday, April 03, 2008

Geography of the Battle of Basra

Pieced together from news reports, the above map shows zones of control in Basra. Blue is Iraqi Security Forces, red is territory controlled by Mahdi Army, and purple is still contested.

The Second Battle of Basra is winding to a close with no clear winner. The Iranian-backed Mahdi Army remains in control of much of Basra while the Iraqi government has fortifed control in the government buildings district and airport. Mahdi Army has taken significant causalities.

The battle and others in the Shia south were a test of the Iraqi government's will to crush the Shia militia. It is safe to say the government has failed to show it will be as tough as it has been against the Sunni insurgency. Sadr has shown he can survive his rebellions. Though this time he has cost himself political points with the government.

The government surprisingly has more control in Basra then it has since the British pulled out in late 2007. When that event occured the city was de facto divided between the Mahdi Army and the slightly more pro-government, Iranian-back Badr Corp militia.

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