Iraqi security forces backed by the U.S. military is locked in a third day of Shia on Shia fighting in southern Iraq around the second most populated city of Basra. It has left 105 people dead and a key oil pipeline blown open.
The fighting is about control of the southern Shia area of Iraq between Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi army and two other Shia factions--the powerful Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) of Abdel Aziz al-Hakim and the smaller Fadhila party. It is also about disagreements with how Prime Minister Maliki is running the government.
Sadr supporters in Baghdad staged large demonstrations calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Maliki. In the Sadr City section of Baghdad Mahdi army supporters took to the streets as well chanting, "Maliki you are a coward! Maliki is an American agent! Leave the government, Maliki! How can you strike Basra?"
Sadr himself has threatened to launch a full scale revolt if attacks against his militia do not cease and for his part, on Wednesday, Maliki has threatened serious consequences if the fighting does not stop in 72 hours. Sadr helped establish a cease fire in Iraq which combined with "the surge" of American forces has helped slow the violence. However, political infighting and deadlock has continued unabated within the government. To that end, Sadr's representatives walked out of parliament Tuesday to protest the crackdown in Basra.
Frustration and tension is high on all sides because of the unstable, corrupt, fiercely divided and dysfunctional government. This is the danger of a weak and ineffectual government. If the government can not work out differences and make progress then it is only natural that sides take up arms again because they see violence as the only way toward achieving their goals.
"The Surge" only works as long as people want to keep the peace but once the bottle is uncorked there isn't much that our military can do to stop another wave of civil unrest because the Iraqis outnumber our troops--that's easy to understand. If enough Iraqis want to go back into a full out battle in the streets it will be hard for the U.S. to keep a lid on things.
Meanwhile, President Peter Pan Bush living in Never-Never land (Washington D.C.) says the up-tick in violence shows that the U.S. military needs to stay in Iraq. Yet on the other hand he has said that we need to stay too because "the surge" has shown some signs of success in stemming the violence. So in other words, no matter what, we need to stay. Bush has never cared if his policies make sense to his employers, the American people.
As I've said before, If Bush wants to stay in Iraq so much I propose his Presidential library be built in the Sadr City of Baghdad.
As for John McBush, er McCain, he too wants to stay in Iraq so long that I'm just waiting for him to advocate making Iraq our 51st state.
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