May 06, 2007
Under the heading of things that make your head explode comes this story from the AP, posted 21 minutes ago.
The story says that the US is deliberately leaving the Mahdi army in charge of some parts of Bahgdad. Yes, the same Madhdi army that is supposedly contolled by Iran, that we are supposed to be fighting. And Why?
Even so, Miska said, "right now we just don't have a better alternative."
You have to read this story - it's unbelievable:
Some of the choice bits:
"There are a lot of people affiliated with JAM, and if we made them all enemies, we'd be in trouble," said Lt. Col. Steve Miska, 39, of Greenport, N.Y., who commands U.S. troops in northwest Baghdad.
"So we try to sort out who's extremist JAM and can't be reasoned with because of their ideology, and who we can live with as long as they're not killing U.S. and Iraqi soldiers or civilians."
Miska's efforts suffered a setback last week when Iraq's parliament passed legislation banning U.S. troops from within two-thirds of a mile of the shrine.
The measure, proposed by al-Sadr's representatives in parliament, was seen as largely symbolic and was approved the day after a gunbattle between U.S. troops and Mahdi fighters. During the two-hour fight, some Iraqi soldiers fought alongside Mahdi Army gunmen, according to the Iraqi officer in charge of security in the area.
He spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear for his life. But his account was corroborated by U.S. officials, who said some Iraqi soldiers took off their uniforms and tossed weapons to militiamen.
That cuts to the heart of a dilemma for the U.S. military three months into the campaign to pacify Baghdad: whether to risk fierce battles by confronting Shiite militiamen blamed for massacring Sunnis or to deal with "moderates" in the Mahdi Army — which the U.S. believes receives weapons and training from Iran.
Without the militia, U.S. and Iraqi officers acknowledge that the 2,000 Iraqi security forces and 500 American soldiers based in the area would be hard-pressed to protect the neighborhood's 120,000 residents and the shrine, which houses the tombs of two 8th century Shiite imams.
In fact, the article makes clear, all of the Iraqi army units that have appeared in Baghdad for the surge are, in fact, Mahdi army units.
But in Kazimiyah, the number of fighters has spiked in recent months, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.
With the approval of the Sunni-run Defense Ministry, the reinforcements include more than 300 men dispatched by Bahaa al-Araji, a member of al-Sadr's bloc in parliament. The Iraqi government is still in the process of issuing them weapons, but the entire force is believed to have come from the Mahdi Army.
"You're looking at JAM with political cover all the way to the top here," Miska said.
In addition, militiamen are believed to have infiltrated most Iraqi army, National Police and local police units in Kazimiyah, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.
So, let me get this straight. We had to have a "surge" to tamp down the violence and allow for political reconciliation, so that Sunnis would lay down their arms and join the political process.
But the US is partnering with the very Mahdi Army that is murdering Sunnis, forcing them from their homes, etc. Add this to recent news that a secretive office in Al Maliki's goverment is purging army officers who confront the Mahdi army.
Shadowy Iraq office accused of sectarian agenda
and the US strategy becomes clear: we've picked a side - the Iranian-backed side - in the Iraqi civil war.
And the Sunnis have evidently figured it out - as they are serious about bolting the government.
Now, if I was Sunni - would I quite fighting?
what are we DOING?!?