Modern Warfare

MODERN WARFARE….Both sides in Iraq’s Shiite civil war have accepted a truce in Sadr City. The Sadrists agreed to stop displaying arms in public and to allow the government to arrest specific individuals suspected of attacks, though only if they get a warrant first. The government ended its offensive and gave up on its demand that the Mahdi Army disband. It also apparently agreed that only government forces could stage raids in Sadr City, not the U.S. military. The Iranians were said to have been instrumental in brokering the deal.

So who won? As near as I can tell, opinion ranges from “murky” to “seems like the Maliki government backed down,” but really, nobody knows. Welcome to modern warfare.

Meanwhile, in Lebanon last week, Hezbollah managed to shock everyone by taking control of a big chunk of West Beirut with practically no resistance. Then, just as suddenly, they pulled out yesterday, turning control back over to government forces. But things are still tense and sporadic fighting has broken out elsewhere.

So who won? Hezbollah, probably, though it’s not clear whether they backed off because they got what they wanted or because they couldn’t have consolidated their control even if they’d wanted to. It’s murky. Welcome to modern warfare.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation