Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Friday, January 19, 2007
The New Iraq
Well, the media is playing up the "change" in Iraq. Stories of Al Maliki now walking the walk, and al Sadr being harrassed with his aides being arrested are all over the place. Count me as skeptical as I'm at a loss to understand how al Maliki can piss off the Sadrists and stay in power.

I hope I'm wrong, but this sounds like whack-a-mole time:
Muqtada al-Sadr has sent his family into hiding in anticipation of an American crackdown on his movement. He appears to anticipate an attempt to arrest or kill him. He maintains that the crackdown has been underway for a month, with 400 of his followers arrested. He is accused of maintaining a private militia, the Mahdi Army, that is implicated in death squad activity against Sunni Arabs. Local Shiites often see the militia as a kind of neighborhood watch that keeps them safe from Sunni incursions when the central government does not.

A direct US conflict with Muqtada al-Sadr could throw the Shiite south into turmoil.
Gen. George came out and said that he thinks we can begin drawdown this summer given the good things he's seeing. But he's also said that before.

The fundamentalist who follow al Sadr are many. It appears to me that the U.S. wanted to kill the guy several years ago, but backed away fearing an upheaval in the country. I think the Bush administration now thinks not taking al Sadr out then was a mistake and that they'll now go to the brink again. We shall see how it turns out.