Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Trapped by Maliki

Spencer Ackerman:

Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki is giving powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr’s forces three days to surrender in Basra, as clashes between Maliki’s security forces and Sadr’s Mahdi Army—in which the U.S. intervenes on Maliki’s side—escalate. But with the U.S. happy about the now-abrogated Sadrist ceasefire, why is the U.S. military getting involved? The Washington Post isn’t sure:

It was unclear why U.S. forces would take part in a broad armed challenge to Sadr and his thousands-strong militia on the eve of Petraeus’s assessment, which the Bush administration has said would greatly influence its decision on whether to draw down troop levels.

Here’s an answer. As long as Maliki is in the prime minister’s chair, and as long as we proclaim the Iraqi government he leads to be legitimate, Maliki effectively holds us hostage. "I need to go after Sadr," Maliki says. "The situation is unacceptable! In Basra, he threatens to take control of the ports, and in Baghdad, he’s throwing my men out of their checkpoints. Would you allow the Bloods or the Crips to take over half of Los Angeles?" And as soon as he says that, we’re trapped. It simply is not tenable for Petraeus to refuse a request for security assistance from the Prime Minister to deal with a radical militia.

1 comment:

  1. I'm guessing here, because there hasn't been much reporting. There are stories that say the U.S. has been pushing Maliki for some time to go after the Mahdi Army. It's possible he agreed to do so only with a guarantee of military support from our forces.

    Purely from the standpoint of forming an effective national government, it would be smarter to form a coalition with al-Sadr. Maliki isn't allowed to do that because al-Sadr wants the Americans out of Iraq.