This is hardly "breaking news" but that's not really the forte of opinion blogs like this anyway.
I have some comments about the brief battle between the Iraqi government and the Medhi Army loyal to Ayatollah Al Sadr.
First, the fact that the battle was initiated by the Iraqi army on its own has a good news/bad news aspect to it. On the one hand, it suggests that the military preparedness of the Iraqi military has finally started to improve. And one thing that an emerging democracy absolutely must do is prove it can defend itself against armed anti-regime elements. This was the great failing of the Weimar Republic in Germany.
On the other hand, the way this latest battle played out raises some serious questions. It was widely reported that the Iraqi military is itself heavily penetrated by a primarily Shia militia that sees Sadr's militia as a rival for power in Shia areas. So it is not entirely clear that that we were watching the Iraqi government asserting itself rather than a battle between two armed political parties one of which happens to be in the government at the moment. Furthermore, it rapidly became clear that the Iraqi army could not win without the support of US forces and our folks were brought into the fight within days of it's beginning.
Second, the fight concluded when Sadr agreed to go back to a cease fire (essentially a return to the "status quo antebellum"). Guess who was instrumental in brokering the cease fire...Iran! It was our military that was called upon (again) to settle the fighting but it was Iran that is was needed to be the trusted arbitrator between the beligerants.
The Bush administration and their supporters (like McCain) are putting a very positive spin on this. But it's far from clear that this was a good sign at all. It might be but it could be a sign of some really nasty complications in the ongoing Iraqi civil war.
What do you all think?
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 4:06 PM