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March 27, 2008

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Katie

Marc,

I just got spam at an address I'd only used for commenting on your blog.

I think somehow the transmissions of e-mail addresses to your server got hacked.

-Katie

Eric Martin

thanks teach

bb

Interestingly, in the ABC/BBC poll 48% of Shiites said the United States should assist in providing security re Iran.

Xanthippas

I don't know which of those five theories is right, but I'm pretty sure that #3 is wrong.

luci

Totally speculating, but what if Maliki has been wanting to move on Sadr for some time, but holding off at US request? And now, the US feels the time is as right as it's gonna get. Bush has only 9 months left, and the next Dem prez might not support it.

Sounds too US-centric of an explanation, but would Maliki move on Sadr without first running the idea past Bush's people?

John

Does anyone realize just how dangerous al-Sadr is? His forces are winning. Granted, thank God, they're probably going to lose, but after what a week, standing up against government forces. It's going to be a p.r. victory for him either way. This goes along with our whole recent modus operandi of constantly underestimating our enemies. It's got to stop.

Nabil

Today Hamid Bayati (ISCI), the Iraqi Ambassador to the UN, was in Washington at a conference on the Humanitarian situation in Iraq at the Library of Congress. I was amazed at how well schooled he was in Bush speak, whereby amazing things are being achieved in Iraq, etc...

I came away from that, and from your speculation here, thinking that ISCI has played DC like a puppet, and that options 1 and 2 make the most sense to me (having not yet read Visser's piece -- he's usually right on the mark).

Nabil

Today Hamid Bayati (ISCI), the Iraqi Ambassador to the UN, was in Washington at a conference on the Humanitarian situation in Iraq at the Library of Congress. I was amazed at how well schooled he was in Bush speak, whereby amazing things are being achieved in Iraq, etc...

I came away from that, and from your speculation here, thinking that ISCI has played DC like a puppet, and that options 1 and 2 make the most sense to me (having not yet read Visser's piece -- he's usually right on the mark).

Non-Arab Arab

I don't know if he's right, but I find Tareq al-Homayed's take extremely interesting as if true it could really shake things up. If Iran were to support dumping all Sadr support and even deliberately turning their other allies on him with full guns, the implications seem huge. The Sadrist trend forces are not going to disappear, they represent a large aggrieved constituency. Assaulting them can set them back temporarily, but they'll be back before long. Question is if true could this push them into a sustainable alliance with more nationalist Sunni forces (I note the AMS statement of support AA put the link to)? There was certainly flirting with that idea the first year of the occupation and through the first earlier battle of Fallujah before it all imploded in the wake of suicide bombs and death squads. And the raw material of nationalist rhetoric and feelings has alwaysbeen there to some degree. But could these circumstances finally push a more solidified alliance? There's so much polluted water under the bridge it seems hard to imagine, but there's been so many surprising shifts of allegiance in Iraq despite the blood, that I have to wonder.

Fabius Maximus

Do you agree with this analysis by Prof Cole?

"My reading is that the US faced a dilemma in Iraq. It needed to have new provincial elections in an attempt to mollify the Sunni Arabs, especially in Sunni-majority provinces like Diyala, which has nevertheless been ruled by the Shiite Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. But if they have provincial elections, their chief ally, the Islamic Supreme Council, might well lose southern provinces to the Sadr Movement. In turn, the Sadrists are demanding a timetable for US withdrawal, whereas ISCI wants US troops to remain. So the setting of October, 2008, as the date for provincial elections provoked this crisis.

"I think Cheney probably told ISCI and Prime Minister al-Maliki that the way to fix this problem and forestall the Sadrists oming to power in Iraq, was to destroy the Mahdi Army, the Sadrists' paramilitary. Without that coercive power, the Sadrists might not remain so important, is probably their thinking. I believe them to be wrong, and suspect that if the elections are fair, the Sadrists will sweep to power and may even get a sympathy vote. It is admittedly a big 'if.'"

Attributing the idea to the "master bad guy Cheney" seems unnecessary, as al Maliki seems capable of devising this without our assistance.
From http://www.juancole.com/2008/03/al-hayat-reports-in-arabic-that-iraqi.html

Zathras

Well, it may be unnecessary. However, it would explain a mystery.

Press reports, including one in the Washington Post yesterday, suggest that the government's offensive in Basra was launched without consultation with the Americans or British. Maybe that's right, maybe not; it is a little hard to believe that the Americans in particular, with all the points of contact they've established under Petraeus with Iraqi Army and police units as well as the government in Baghdad, wouldn't have had any idea that something big was up.

But if Maliki had discussed launching an attack on the Sadrists around Basra this week with the Vice President beforehand, and gotten a favorable reaction, would Cheney or his office have notified Petraeus or Crocker? To believe that he might not have requires that one believe Cheney would keep something this important to himself for fear it would leak; that he believed what the administration has been saying about the Maliki government's growing strength; and that he underestimated both the Mahdi Army's strength and the likelihood that its members in Baghdad would react violently to an offensive against it in Basra.

I can believe all these things. We know that they, or something like them, have all happened before.

At this moment the matter is one of speculation. Maliki could well have launched his Basra operation without telling the Americans, or he might have consulted Gen. Petraeus and misled him about the operation's scope, or its timing. Or he might have consulted more fully than this, and the American command doesn't want to admit it. The possibility that Maliki did brief the Vice President and did not feel the need to consult with anyone else is, sadly, also plausible.

ebw

that was more useful than your i-heart-a-candidate post

absent is any [6] which places agency in centcom, which via its as yet unliquidated proxies, may be expending ordinance and material before draw-down, either for local effect, or for domestic (us) effect.

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