October 31, 2006


Maliki Orders Lifting of Checkpoints Around Sadr City: U.S. Disbands Military Blockade After Prime Minister's Announcement (John Ward Anderson, Ellen Knickmeyer and William Branigin, 10/31/06, Washington Post)

U.S. forces ended a five-day-old military blockade of Baghdad's impoverished Sadr City section Tuesday, meeting a deadline set by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki amid tensions between U.S. and Iraqi officials and pressure from the anti-American cleric whose militia controls the sprawling Shiite slum.

Maliki ordered that the security cordon be lifted hours after cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for a civil disobedience campaign in Sadr City to protest the blockade, which the U.S. military launched Wednesday in an effort to find an abducted U.S. soldier and capture a purported Iraqi death squad leader.

It was the Maliki government's greatest demonstration of independence from the occupying U.S. military forces, following two weeks of increasingly pointed exchanges between Iraqi and U.S. officials.

It's long past time for us to dance to their tune.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 31, 2006 8:20 PM

So, OJ. Do we pull out now?

I am open to it. I tend to think we need to make it clear that they are in charge.

But, in that vein, I would hope there is a no-confidence vote and the Maliki govt falls and is replaced by one willing to make the streets safe.

Posted by: JAB at October 31, 2006 9:30 PM

I wonder if it's really better to have a government make the streets safe--which essentially means put down the Sunni--than paramilitaries.

Posted by: oj at October 31, 2006 9:52 PM

There was an obscure report about a month ago (on Rantburg, IIRC) that Malaki had persuaded Sadr to join the political process. Sadr, in turn, had agreed to finger those among his military commanders who did not understand Clausewitz ... i.e. those who felt that organized violence was an appropriate end-in-itself. The names and addresss of those mere thugs were to go on a hit list for Iraqi police and Coalition forces. With both Malaki and Sadr denying any knowledge or involvement. Sounds good to moi.

Posted by: ghostcat at October 31, 2006 9:57 PM

OK, so my prediction that we'll be seeing the positive stories out of Iraq after 11/7 is coming in a little bit early. Yes, the groundwork is being laid for a drawdown of troops from Iraq. We won't fully leave for another generation, though. After all, we need a base of operations in the ME.

Posted by: Brad S at November 1, 2006 8:18 AM

OJ, I've thought this myself from time to time but the Shiite paramilitaries should have done this 2 1/2 years ago instead of fighting the Americans and they are doing it now in a very ineffective way. If they were merely de-Baathifying I'd be for training and equipping them. In some cases, they have been integrated into the national army, btw.

In the end state, we may have a base at Balad or in Kurdistan. We already have a good location in Quatar and access to ports in the region. Having a bunch of troops on Iraqi soil is probably not a great idea even to those who are overly supportive of a prolonged presence.

Posted by: JAB at November 1, 2006 11:56 AM

we were the ones stopping them, which is why we were the enemy.

Posted by: oj at November 1, 2006 12:14 PM