Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Iraq following the US invasion in March of 2003 was a dangerous place, and one in which the national government struggled to maintain control while unsanctioned and unauthorized strongmen and their militias controlled wide swaths of territory. This analysis will thus look at the 2008 Battle of Sadr City between the militia of radical Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the military forces of Iraq and the US conducting the operation in concert. Utilizing a number of newspaper accounts and editorials, journal articles, recent books, and freelance journalists’ writings, several key aspects will be considered regarding how Iraq was changed for the better. Important elements of the battle to be examined include the perilous power play before the battle between Mr Sadr and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as well as the increasing competency of the Iraqi Security Forces. This analysis will also evaluate how additional Coalition military units and newly-developed tactics were employed to effect a combined military and political defeat of Mr Sadr and his private army. Lastly, this is an assessment of the results of the battle, ranging from micro-level impacts on daily life in the area of operations all the way up to the changing nature of US policy in Iraq. At the end of the fight, the Iraqi state came out as the victors, with a stronger popular backing in addition to greater control over much of its territory brought about by breaking the power of these stateless armed groups. More so, the US has been able to begin a drawdown of its presence with the victory by the Iraqis over their extremist menace. In conclusion, the combination of both the soft and the hard power that won over the populace permitted a split between them and the radical fringes of the militias that then became marked for destruction. The achievement of this goal led to a more stable security situation in this tumultuous country and established the state as the sole and preeminent governing authority.

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