Friday, April 06, 2007

Is Maliki Making US Troops Patsies For Sadr?

There's an "overview" report from Reuters about various happenings in Iraq that I want to flag up.

Firstly, because it reports that combined Iraqi and U.S. forces are conducting a sweep through the Shiite city of Diwaniya in oder to return that city to government control.
Iraqi and U.S. troops fought militiamen in southeast Diwaniya, a stronghold of Sadr's Mehdi Army, which the Pentagon says poses the greatest threat to peace in Iraq. The head of Sadr's office in the city blamed rogue gunmen.

Pamphlets dropped by U.S. helicopters warned police, who are suspected of being infiltrated by the militia, to stay off the streets. Any found carrying weapons would be shot.

..."Iraqi army soldiers swept into the city of Diwaniya early this morning to disrupt militia activity and return security and stability of the volatile city back to the government of Iraq," the U.S. military said in a statement.
Now this sweep is part of an Iraqi push to extend the "surge" to other areas of Iraq which have seen an increase in violence while the capital has become quieter. Most of that effort has been directed at Sunni areas, leading to accusations that Maliki was using US forces as patsies to further consolidate Shiite supremacy and Sunni persecution.

In this case however, the fighting is in a Shiite area against what appear to be Maliki's Mahdi Army sometime-allies. Recently, the Iraqi government had announced that the Mahdi Army had "stood down" and would no longer be conducting attacks. That's why the local Sadrist offices' claim that the problem in Diwaniya is due to rogue elements of Sadr's militai is potentially very significant. If it is true, then Maliki is again using US troops as proxies, along with the Iraqi national army, this time to consolidate Sadr's hold on dissafected elements within his own militia.

Secondly, a US military spokesman has announced that "troops, facing scattered resistance, discovered a factory that produced 'explosively formed penetrators' (EFPs), a particularly deadly type of explosive that can destroy a main battle tank and several weapons caches."

This is the second such seizure of an EFP manufactory inside Iraq in recent months. The last one was in a mixed Sunni/Shiite area further North. Yet despite this clear evidence that EFP's are being made inside Iraq (as many independent experts have suspected all along) both the US and UK governments - as well as the mainstream media's stenographers - are sticking fast to their claims that every EFP is from Iran. They are relying on repetition of the lie to make it stronger than the truth, and every indication so far is that their gambit is succeeding.

Lastly, and still on the subject of EFP's, comes additional reporting at the end of the main section of the Reuters report. Tony Blair had yesterday returned to confrontational rhetoric over Iran when talking about an explosion that destroyed a British armoured fighting vehicle, killing four soldiers and a translator. He had said that he didn't know whether the explosion had been caused by an EFP but that didn't stop him from saying yet again that Iran was providing EFP's which were killing British troops.

According to the Reuters report, police in Basra have said that the explosion was caused by a new type of bomb not seen in the area before.
"We found two bombs ... that were similar to the bomb that exploded targeting the British troops," Major General Mohammed Moussawi told Reuters. "These are new bombs that haven't been used and do not have a precedent in southern Iraq."

...a Western explosives expert in Iraq said it appeared from photographs of the crater that the blast had been caused by a commercial landmine buried in the road, not by an EFP.
Oddly enough, if this explosion was caused by a brand-new commercial landmine, then the chances of it being Iranian in origin are probably far higher than if it was simply an EFP, which the evidence now points to being an Iraqi-produced weapon.

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