Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Breaking - Al Sadr's Office Attacked

This is fresh from KUNA, the Kuwaiti News Agency:
Muqtada Sadr office bombarded

BAGHDAD, Feb 20 (KUNA) -- A joint force of the Iraqi Army and US troops Tuesday bombarded the office of Shiite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr in Al-Shula area, west of Baghdad, a security source told KUNA.

The source said some 14 military vehicles are now surrounding the office and Iraqi and US soldiers could be seen confiscating material and documents.

Muqtada Al-Sadr himself is out of the country over fears for his safety.
This could easily backfire, turning Sadrists who have so far hidden from "surge" forces over into attack mode. It could also be a cusp moment for the surge and for the Iraqi government, enabling at long last a beginning of a move towards peace.

My gut feeling says the former, pro-war commentators are sure to say the latter. Time will tell.

I also find myself wondering whether we will see new claims of Iranian meddling after this. The report talks about the confiscation of documents.

Update: It looks like either Maliki has decided to become a strongman or is doing a creditable impersonation of one.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki told his security forces on Tuesday to show no mercy toward insurgents in a security crackdown in Baghdad.

Making a rare foray into Baghdad's violent streets, Maliki called for an end to sectarian divisions that threaten to tip the country into full-scale civil war. A suicide bomber and two car bombs killed at least 17 people in the capital on Tuesday.

Iraqiya state television showed Maliki, a Shi'ite Islamist leader, talking to an Iraqi soldier near an armored vehicle in central Baghdad. The soldier pointed to an area from where he said insurgents had been firing at security forces.

"Don't just fire back, crush the place where the fire came from," Maliki replied. "Don't treat them with leniency. This is an armored vehicle here, use it."
The use of the word "insurgents" suggests Sunni militants were doing the shooting. Would he have been as bloodthirsty if the shooters had been Shiite? Has he finally decided it's either the militants from both camps or his own ass?

Update More breaking news about Iraq. The UK government has said that PM Tony Blair will announce a timetable for the pullout of British troops tomorrow.
Tony Blair is expected to announce a timetable for the withdrawal of UK troops from Iraq.

The prime minister is due to make an announcement in the House of Commons on Wednesday in which he is expected clarify the details. Mr Blair is expected to say hundreds of troops will return from Basra within weeks with more to follow later. Some 7,000 UK troops are currently serving in Iraq and about 1,500 are expected to return within weeks.

BBC political correspondent James Landale said: "We have been expecting an announcement for some time on this."

He said by Christmas a total of 3,000 troops were expected to have returned to the UK from Iraq. However, he said reports that all troops will have returned home by the end of 2008 was "not a fair representation of what is true at the moment".
Did someone forget to give the Poodle the GOP talking points about how setting timetables emboldens the enemy, who can now just wait it out until the Brits leave in southern Iraq, and is tantamount to treason?

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