9 years ago
In yet another tip of the hat to al Sadr to hold his coalition together, Maliki has ordered the Iraqi and U.S. troops surrounding (blockading) Sadr city to stand down. At least in part, this blockade was an effort to find the recently kidnapped U.S. soldier-translator. U.S. and Iraqi forces had been carrying out raids into Sadr city searching for the soldier.
This is more politics of weakness. Maliki is utterly dependent upon al Sadr to maintain his fragile coalition. Sadr city does not mistake for a moment the significance of this move by Maliki. In a statement released by al Sadr’s office, the Shi’ite sectarian leader said “your patience and unity brought victory.” Impromptu celebrations were seen throughout Sadr city upon lifting the “blockade.”
On the one hand, Maliki is weak in the face of the coalition-building forces in Iraq such as al Sadr, and on the other hand weak in attempting to control al-Qaeda violence and Shi’ite death squads in the Anbar Province. Even those areas of Iraq that have been turned over to Iraqi control have regressed. Anbar Province town of Saba’a al-Bour is a literal ghost town, with ninety percent of the inhabitants having fled the death squads and al-Qaeda fighters.
Iraq plans to ask the U.N. security council to extend the mandate governing the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq for another year. So U.S. troops remain caught in the middle with rules of engagement that require an investigation any time an American fires his weapon.