Friday, April 04, 2008

A puppet can't learn new tricks

SO MUCH for Iraq's "defining moment." That's what the "Decider" called last week's Iraqi offensive against Shiite militants in Basra. It was a defining moment all right, one that underscored how worthless Iraqi's army and "unity" government are five years into the war.
Interesting how muted Washington has been about the whole affair lately. Initially, the Bush Administration scrambled to put a positive spin on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's ill-advised and ill-prepared government crackdown in the country's second largest city. Only after Iraqi security forces got a "thumpin" -- to put it in George W. Bush's vernacular -- and the prime minister, who had vowed to remain in Basra for a "decisive and final battle" against the militias, backed down after Iran brokered a cease-fire, did the administration start to disown the debacle.
Suddenly gone from its rhetoric were any references to defining moments "in the history of a free Iraq" or previous puffery that the administration regarded Basra as a grand test of the Iraqi Security Forces' strength and the prime minister's resolve. There were no further elaborations on the President's earlier certainty that "normalcy is returning to Iraq."
Nope. Soon word began to trickle out - off the record, of course - from administration officials disclaiming responsibility for Mr. al-Maliki's failed offensive. They stressed he launched the operation without consulting his U.S. allies. Some military leaders and lawmakers suggested otherwise, saying Americans knew in general about the upcoming Iraqi effort but the timing was a surprise.
Apparently so was the almost immediate need by the Iraqis for U.S. air support and other help as soon as the Basra crackdown commenced. But even after American and British troops moved in to mop up after faltering Iraqi forces, the fiasco still ended up with Shiite militants, led by an emboldened Muqtada al-Sadr, controlling Basra.

The above is from Marilou Johanek's "Iraq's security forces failed 'defining moment' in Basra" (Toledo Blade) and that pretty much sums up what went down in the lead up to next week's Congressional testimonies on the part of US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen David Petraeus. But the puppet, Nouri al-Maliki, really doesn't get it and those pulling in his strings (White House) don't explain it to him. From Leila Fadel's "Massive Shiite protest planned in Iraq; more battles possible" (McClatchy Newspapers):

Firebrand Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al Sadr on Thursday called for a massive demonstration against the "occupation" of Iraq on April 9, which would coincide with the fifth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad and come just after U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker are to testify to Congress about progress in Iraq.
As Sadr called for a million people to converge on the Shiite holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq, he also warned the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to purge the security forces of members of the Badr Organization, the military wing of the rival Shiite Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, and of Sunni Baathists.
"Some entities in the Iraqi government are trying to put us between drawing swords and degradation," Sadr's statement said. "That is why I say as the Imam Hussein said, 'Never will we be subservient.' "
Maliki, back in Baghdad after a week of directing an Iraqi security forces offensive against Sadr's Mahdi Army militia in the southern port city of Basra, promised to "liberate" Sadr's strongholds of Sadr City and Shoala in the capital.
Abdel Kareem Khalaf, the Ministry of Interior spokesman, said from Basra that if Maliki's demand that Sadr's forces hand over their weapons to the Iraqi security forces by April 8 in exchange for cash isn't met, the weapons would be confiscated by force.

And proving that neither the puppet nor his string pullers have learned a thing, AFP reports:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Thursday said he planned to launch more crackdowns on militiamen as hard-line Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for a massive anti-US protest next week. Maliki said future assaults by government forces could not be ruled out after last week's crackdown in Baghdad and the southern city of Basra, which mostly targeted fighters of Sadr's Mehdi Army militia.
"I expect more crackdowns like this. We do not negotiate with outlaws," Maliki told a news conference in the capital's heavily fortified Green Zone.
"The coming days will witness more assaults as people are still in the control of gangs," he said, naming areas such as Shuala, Sadr City and Ameriyya in Baghdad as possible targets of military operations.

He loves to talk big which is embarrassing enough since he's never been able to back it up and just becomes a bigger joke on the international stage. However, no sooner does he pull that junk than he backtracks -- over and over. From Reuters:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Friday his security forces would stop arresting militiamen if they give up their weapons, apparently seeking to defuse tensions with Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
In a statement, Maliki said he would grant amnesty from prosecution to anyone who took part in clashes in southern Iraq and Baghdad last week if they handed in their guns.
The statement appeared to soften Maliki's position from Thursday, when at a news conference he threatened a crackdown on Sadr's strongholds in Baghdad.

Clearly, they have learned nothing -- the puppet or his handlers.
Also offering evaluations is The Villager. From their editorial "Dems must find their spine on Iraq:"

The so-called surge is not "working" and it has nothing to do with the heightened violence last week. Even with the reduced level of violence against Americans in the last few months, we were still losing about a soldier a day. Many more troops are being severely wounded with crippling physical and mental injuries. Iraqi civilians continue to be killed in far greater numbers. The surge’s intent was to prompt the Iraqis into making political compromises in order to govern themselves. Even the Bush administration admits there has been little progress on that front. How will the Iraqis ever be able to police themselves if Bush and John McCain continue to suggest we are willing to stay indefinitely -- a century, if necessary?
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz pegs the cost of the war at $3 trillion -- money that could have helped complete the war in Afghanistan; reduced our subsidies to terrorists while promoting energy independence; lessened global climate change; provided universal healthcare, and done so much more.
One of our congressional representatives, Jerrold Nadler, opposed the war and wants to cut off funds, but he has few allies and his Democratic leaders have been cowardly in going against Bush. The Democrats have aided and abetted Bush at every step of the war. Yet Congress has the power to stop funding the war.

The e-mail address for this site is