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Old 03-26-2008, 06:32 AM   #1
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Cease-fire over, back to fighting the Americans

Rest of it is here.

Quote:
The Mahdi Army's seven-month-long cease-fire appears to have come undone.

Rockets fired from the capital's Shiite district of Sadr City slammed into the Green Zone Tuesday, the second time in three days, and firefights erupted around Baghdad pitting government and US forces against the militia allied to the influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

At the same time, the oil-export city of Basra became a battleground Tuesday as Iraqi forces, backed by US air power, launched a major crackdown on the Mahdi Army elements. British and US forces were guarding the border with Iran to intercept incoming weapons or fighters, according to a senior security official in Basra.

The US blames the latest attacks on rogue Mahdi Army elements tied to Iran, but analysts say the spike in fighting with Shiite militants potentially opens a second front in the war when the American military is still doing battle with the Sunni extremists of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

"The cease-fire is over; we have been told to fight the Americans," said one Mahdi Army militiaman, who was reached by telephone in Sadr City. This same man, when interviewed in January, had stated that he was abiding by the cease-fire and that he was keeping busy running his cellular phone store.
This story is in quite a few papers, but not really seeing it on TV. They're too busy talking about Obama's pastor and Hillary's Tuzla two-step. Either that or everyone is pretty much feeling the way Cheney does and the response to something like this has become: "So?"
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Old 03-26-2008, 07:28 AM   #2
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Now we'll really get to see how well that surge is working...
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Old 03-26-2008, 07:57 AM   #3
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I've seen it on tv, I think it was the top story on ABC News last night.

I wonder what McCain will have to say about it. Of course this will all have to be straightened out in a timely fashion before November.
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Old 03-26-2008, 02:42 PM   #4
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99 more years of war on the wall, 99 more years of war ....
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Old 03-26-2008, 08:33 PM   #5
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I'm more interested in what Obama and Clinton have to say about it. It's a tough problem. I'd like to hear their solutions.

Obiously, its more complicated than the above article let's on. This one provides a little more background:

http://www.time.com/time/world/artic...725526,00.html
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Old 03-27-2008, 05:21 AM   #6
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The surge has worked well, Sadr can now easily hold the balance of power now that the Sunnis have been disarmed.
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Old 03-27-2008, 02:28 PM   #7
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so just what is going on in Iraq?

is this what happens when forces (here, the British) leave too soon?

is this simply the inevitable start to a civil war between the Madhi Army and "government" troops?

how long before we see Maliki's corpse being carried through the streets?

or, does Maliki now feel that he has the power and confidence to suppress insurrection, similar to, say, the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794?

does this mean that the suge isn't such a surge after all, that it's the new reality lest we want this to happen to the rest of the country?

are the Americans little more than the thumb of the little dutch boy stuck into a dyke?

is this all the Iraqi forces are capable of?

what next? what is this? what's going on?
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Old 03-28-2008, 08:17 PM   #8
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The boundries of Iraqi were drawn out by the British in the 1940s. (i think...correct me here if i'm wrong)

President Bush, since he took over the region, should have redrawn the region into the three separate religious groups" the Shiites, the Sunnius, the Kurds.

It's a big mistake and a problem that cannot be fixed, trying to get these three groups together.
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Old 03-30-2008, 10:18 AM   #9
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Looks like the tide is turning!

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/30/wo...assess.html?hp

http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/...rss_topstories

This is awesome news!
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Old 03-30-2008, 05:29 PM   #10
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Seems like a good thing -- hearts and minds are leaning toward Maliki -- and a all that brings.
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Old 03-31-2008, 02:13 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by MadelynIris
Seems like a good thing -- hearts and minds are leaning toward Maliki -- and a all that brings.




that's not the sense i'm getting at all.

it seems to me that the big winner, as always, is Iran, who seems to be able to talk the Madhi army into calming down in a way that the Maliki's government was unable to. and all this uprising has done is prove that Iraqi troops -- even with American and British support -- aren't capable of quelling insurrections. from the view of the Shiite militias (and i know that the government is also a Shiite militia) is that the government is dead from their point of view. what has happened is that the weakness of the government has been exposed. this was supposed to be a decisive assault. instead, the Iraqi army could merely hold the Madhi army at a standstill while Iran stepped in and calmed things down -- now who's the big kid on the block?
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Old 03-31-2008, 05:58 PM   #12
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^ I'm inclined to agree; almost everything I've read suggests that prevailing public opinion in Iraq takes this to be a net loss for Maliki.
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Old 03-31-2008, 06:02 PM   #13
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Originally posted by yolland
^ I'm inclined to agree; almost everything I've read suggests that prevailing public opinion in Iraq takes this to be a net loss for Maliki.
I've read several articles saying as much. He actually kind of strikes me as a bit of an idiot and I do think that his continued presence in Basra helped escalate the situation.
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Old 03-31-2008, 06:23 PM   #14
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Al-Sadr has been hanging out in Iran. Understood.

Or do you guys think they were negotiating with the Iranian Government?


From the CNN article today --
Quote:
Haidar al-Abadi, a member of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Dawa Party, said Iraqi Shiite lawmakers traveled Friday to Iran to meet with al-Sadr. They returned Sunday, the day al-Sadr told his Mehdi Army fighters to stand down.
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Old 03-31-2008, 09:40 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by MadelynIris
Al-Sadr has been hanging out in Iran. Understood.

Or do you guys think they were negotiating with the Iranian Government?




i think the intention of this was to, 1) demonstrate the inefficacy of the Madhi government, and 2) to show the "beneficence" of Iran.

it's all pretty bad.
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Old 04-24-2008, 01:55 AM   #16
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Quote:
US and Iran Find Common Ground in Iraq’s Shiite Conflict

By JAMES GLANZ and ALISSA J. RUBIN
New York Times, April 21


BAGHDAD — In the Iraqi government’s fight to subdue the Shiite militia of Moktada al-Sadr in the southern city of Basra, perhaps nothing reveals the complexities of the Iraq conflict more starkly than this: Iran and the United States find themselves on the same side. The causes of this convergence boil down to the logic of self-interest, although it is logic in a place where even the most basic reasoning refuses to go in a straight line. In essence, though, the calculation by the United States is that it must back the government it helped to create and take the steps needed to protect American troops and civilian officials.

Iranian motivations appear to hinge on the possibility that Mr. Sadr’s political and military followers could gain power in provincial elections this fall, and disrupt the creation of a semiautonomous region in the south that the Iranians see as beneficial.

The American-Iranian convergence is all the more remarkable because of mutual animosity. The United States says that Iran has backed thousands of attacks on American troops in Iraq, bitterly opposes its nuclear program and has not ruled out bombing Iran if Iranian policies do not change. Meanwhile, at the level of senior officials at least, Iran takes quite seriously its depiction of the United States as the planet’s Great Satan. But the two sides are making nice on the issue of fighting Mr. Sadr, one of Iraq’s most powerful Shiite clerics. As Iraqi government soldiers took control of the last areas of Basra from Mr. Sadr’s militia on Saturday, concluding a monthlong effort, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Kazemi Qumi, took the unusual step of expressing strong support for the government’s position and described Mr. Sadr’s fighters as outlaws.

When it comes to which Shiite leader Iran and the United States want to see in power, at least for now they largely see Mr. Sadr’s ascendance as a common threat—nowhere more so than in Basra, the oil-rich capital of Iraq’s most populous region, the Shiite south. Although there are many groups in Iraq—Shiite and Sunni, Turkmen and Kurd—it is a majority Shiite country, and in the end the geopolitical calculus of the United States and Iran has to do with what kind of Shiite government they want in control. The party that Iran and the United States are backing, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, is a bitter rival of Mr. Sadr’s political movement and has managed to play to the interests of both countries. Under Iraq’s Constitution, provinces can form regions with considerable independence from Baghdad. The Supreme Council advocates a large, semiautonomous region in the south, similar to Kurdistan in the north, made up of the nine southern provinces. And because many of the council’s leaders lived in exile in Iran during the rule of Saddam Hussein, Iran has political ties to the group. Coupled with Iran’s shared Shiite heritage, such a region would amplify Iran’s influence over the oil-rich area.

The American backing of the Supreme Council comes in part because the armed wing of the council, the Badr Organization, has never confronted American troops. As one American general said, “They aren’t trying to kill us.” The same cannot be said of Mr. Sadr’s militia, the Mahdi Army, which the United States believes is behind some of the most sophisticated and deadly attacks on American troops. Second, the Americans have treated the Supreme Council as an ally from the beginning of the fight against Mr. Hussein. Its members were guaranteed safe passage when they returned from Iran and were made charter members of Iraq’s first governing body after the American-led invasion toppled Mr. Hussein’s regime. Since then, the United States has backed the Iraqi government, which in turn relies on the Supreme Council to stay in power in the country’s parliamentary system.

But this position could have damaging unintended consequences. It could push the United States further into the vortex of an intra-Shiite political struggle and could lead to the creation of a large, Iranian-influenced region in southern Iraq.

For the Iraqis, the battle is in part a political one over how the balance of power would change province-by-province and ward-by-ward in coming elections. The prize is control of provincial councils that have significant budgets, jobs and local power. During the elections in 2005, Mr. Sadr’s supporters did not vote in most southern provinces, so despite having grass-roots support they were not represented in local governments. But the Supreme Council encouraged its followers to go to the polls, and they dominated even in places where their supporters made up a comparatively small percentage of the electorate. If Mr. Sadr’s movement participates in the next elections, scheduled for October, they are sure to fare better than they did when they did not field candidates, and the Supreme Council is likely to lose some of its power. For instance, in Qadisiya Province, the Sadr movement fielded few candidates and did not vote in great numbers; the Supreme Council was able to dominate the provincial council and control the governorship. In contrast, just to the southeast, in Maysan Province, where the Sadr bloc did participate, it won the largest number of seats and controls the governorship.

The fight in Basra and elsewhere in the south, which appears to have weakened the Sadr movement, is also a way to make it more difficult for the organization to use its militia to coerce voters and intimidate political rivals. In turn, that puts the Supreme Council in a better political position to retain power because its armed wing is well entrenched, having held positions in the police and army for years.

But the political calculus that has landed the Americans and Iranians on the same side of the Shiite conflict in southern Iraq breaks down in the capital. The foremost example is Sadr City, the dusty, impoverished enclave of more than two million Shiites in northeastern Baghdad where Mr. Sadr has his base of power. There, Iraqi and American forces are trying to oust essentially the same Mahdi fighters who were stalking the streets in Basra. And the stakes for the Americans are even higher, because the Mahdi Army has been using parts of Sadr City and its surroundings as a launching pad for rockets aimed at American and Iraqi government offices in the Green Zone.

But there is at least one crucial difference from Basra: in Sadr City, American troops are playing a much bigger role in the battle. For the Iranians, who have consistently opposed the American presence here, that difference comes with consequences. Iran stridently opposes the operation against the Mahdi Army in Sadr City.
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