Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Mahdi Army makes (the same) announcement (again)

Today the US military announced: "One Task Force Lightning Soldier was killed by an explosion near his vehicle while conducting combat operations in Diyala province, August 29." ICCC's total for the number of US service members announced dead this month is 76 so far with 3734 being the number since the start of the illegal war.

In this morning's New York Times, we'll note this and this from Stephen Farrell's "Sadr Suspends His Milita's Military Operations:"

The radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr said Wednesday that he was suspending for six months his Mahdi Army militia's operations, including attacks on American troops, only hours after his fighters waged running street battles with Iraqi government forces for control of Karbala, one of Iraq's holiest cities.

The article's an equivalent of those Little Golden Reader children books from years ago. Instead we'll note the following from an article Martha, Lloyd and Jenny all e-mailed about this morning. From Joshua Partlow and Saad Sarhan's "Sadr Orders 'Freeze' on Militia Actions" (Washington Post):

Some officials interpreted the statement to mean Sadr had called off attacks on U.S. soldiers as well as Iraqi opponents, but a source close to Sadr said some fighting would continue in the name of "self-defense."
"This does not cover all military activities because there are violations being done by the occupation forces every now and then and we expect that these violations will continue in the future, and in these cases the Mahdi Army members will defend themselves," said the source, who spoke from Sadr's headquarters in the southern city of Najaf. "This decision was made in effect to calm things down, especially in Karbala."

[. . .]
By official accounts, the fighting pitted government security forces against unidentified gunmen. But many people in Karbala described it as a battle between the two main Shiite militias vying for power in southern Iraq, the Mahdi Army and the Badr Organization, the armed wing of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council.

Does the call/order/suspension mean anything? Unlikely. As Ewen MacAskill (Guardian of Lodon) notes in "Mahdi army calls six-month truce after fighting leaves 50 dead:"

The Iraqi militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr, called a six-month truce yesterday after fighting with a rival Shia Muslim group in the holy city of Kerbala left more than 50 dead.
A spokesman for the Mahdi army claimed they would lay down their weapons for six months and, during this time, would attack neither other Shia groups nor the US army.
Mr Sadr, who has thousands of armed men at his command, has called truces before but these have been short-lived.

On the issue of weapons, US manufactured weapons have long glutted the black market in Iraq.
The article to pay attention to in this morning's New York Times is David S. Cloud and Eric Schmitt's "U.S. Weapons, Given to Iraqis, Move to Turkey:"

Weapons that were originally given to Iraqi security forces by the American military have been recovered over the past year by the authorities in Turkey after being used in violent crimes in that country, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.
The discovery that serial numbers on pistols and other weapons recovered in Turkey matched those distributed to Iraqi police units has prompted growing concern by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates that controls on weapons being provided to Iraqis are inadequate. It was also a factor in the decision to dispatch the department’s inspector general to Iraq next week to investigate the problem, the officials said.

The most likely route would be via the Kurds in the north but the reporters tell you the Pentagon says that's unlikely. Since the weapons have serial numbers and since there was supposed to have been some minumum tracking being used prior to Petraeus' friends getting involved in weapon suply, it shouldn't be too difficult to determine where they first passed from the US to Iraq. But if it did get passed on via the Kurds, and it may not have, don't look for any revelations to come out on that since the US has long held them on a higher (and less accountable) plane.

No word on whether Turkey will place or threaten to place the US on a terrorist list and begin screaming (as the Bully Boy and US military does with Iran), "These weapons demonstrate US government involvement!"

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