While President Bush sees the latest attempted bloody crackdown of the Madhi army in Basra as "a bold decision of Prime MInister Maliki to go after the illegal groups in Basra (which) shows his (Maliki's) leadership and his commitment to enforce the law in an even-handed manner," Bush said. "It also shows the progress the Iraqi security forces have made during the surge."
Most observers, even US military officials are not so sure. "While US and British military officials have been at pains to distance themselves from the push against the deadly militias," particularly as Maliki's government troops seem to be suffering some reverses both in Baghdad and Basra.
The London Times 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.
In Baghdad, the Mahdi Army took over neighbourhood after neighbourhood, some amid heavy fighting, others without firing a shot.
In New Baghdad, militiamen simply ordered the police to leave their checkpoints: the officers complied en masse and the guerrillas stepped out of the shadows to take over their checkpoints.
It's still too early to tell what is going to happen in Iraq before the smoke clears, but the following video underscores what a difficult (wish it were only difficult) but in reality, impossible position the US forces are in, in the middle of what is looking again like a buildup to another civil war scenario with the Security Forces or Maliki's troops, the Badr Brigades, the Madhi army loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr not to mention the Sunni militias and al Qaeda on the other side, and the US forces right in the center.
This video was shown Monday on Aljazeera English, on the internal divisions among the Shiite factions and why Maliki felt he had take the decision he did, to end the cease fire with the Madhi army.
Today, 'Diplomats told to take cover in Baghdad',"The State Department instructed all personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad not to leave reinforced structures due to incoming insurgent rocket fire that has killed two American government workers this week".. yet, another macabre sign 'of progress' in the war in Iraq.
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