Thursday, March 27, 2008

Operation "Saulat al-Fursan:" Retreat of the Knights instead?

The BBC reports:

"A curfew has been imposed on Baghdad to contain the violence between Mehdi Army militants, and Iraqi security forces. The curfew will last from 2300 (2000 GMT) on Thursday, until 0500 (0200 GMT) on Sunday. A spokesman for the security forces, Major-General Qassim Moussawi, said: 'This is because of the clashes in Baghdad. We want to protect civilians.'"

W., who was speaking at the Air Force museum in Dayton, Ohio, said "normalcy" was returning to Iraq. For once I agree with him, it sure is starting to look like the Iraq we're all used to.

Time Online reports:

"Iraq’s Prime Minister was staring into the abyss today after his operation to crush militia strongholds in Basra stalled, members of his own security forces defected and district after district of his own capital fell to Shia militia gunmen. With the threat of a civil war looming in the south, Nouri al-Maliki’s police chief in Basra narrowly escaped assassination in the crucial port city, while in Baghdad, the spokesman for the Iraqi side of the US military surge was kidnapped by gunmen and his house burnt to the ground.

Saboteurs also blew up one of Iraq's two main oil pipelines from Basra, cutting at least a third of the exports from the city which provides 80 per cent of government revenue, a clear sign that the militias — who siphon significant sums off the oil smuggling trade — would not stop at mere insurrection. . . . Rockets from Sadr City slammed into the governmental Green Zone compound in the city centre, killing one person and wounding several more."

Wasn't al-Maliki from his battlefield HQ just threatening if Madhi army fighters didn't give up their weapons in 72 hours "the law will follow its course'? The clock has almost run out, so what now Nouri?

Since when, btw, has Nouri al-Maliki become a battlefield general? Who does he think he is, a war president?

What I'm real curious about is how much the US military had to do with the planning of this offensive against Mutada al-Sadr? I mean, they're still blaming the fighting in Basra, and Baghdad, and Kut, and Diwanya, ect. on "rogue elements" of the jaish i-Mahdi, as if they're trying to give Sadr an out. Of course, it's gone way beyond that by now, Maliki just blew up the ceasefire that was making the surgeon look like it was really working and now all bets are off.

At some point, or another, the US is going to have to move in to clean up Maliki's mess and possibly to save his neck. Oh yes, and at the some time try to maintain our presence in the green Zone, which is looking more and more precarious everyday.

AP reports:

"A U.S. government employee was killed and four others were wounded in Baghdad this week by rocket attacks on the Green Zone diplomatic and government compound, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday. . . Mortar bombs and rockets have exploded across the capital for days. A strike near the U.S. Embassy in the fortified Green Zone on Thursday sent a column of black smoke into the sky. [State Department spokesman Sean] McCormack said Green Zone rocket attacks occurred on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. He blamed the attacks on 'extremist criminal elements.'"

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