As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, March 28, 2008

Then I'll Give You 30 Days! Best 3 Out Of 5?

Before I go I just have to post about the situation in Iraq, which would be funny if it didn't involve mass death. First the Prime Minister went down to Basra to personally direct the fighting like a miniature Commander Codpiece, and he defiantly gave the ultimatum that all Mahdi Army officers must disarm within three days. After the Mahdi Army replied by, well, kicking the Iraqi Scurity Forces in the teeth, the deadline is now ten days.

Iraq's government has extended by 10 days a deadline for Shia militiamen fighting troops in the southern city of Basra to hand over their weapons.

More than 130 people have been killed and 350 injured since a clampdown on militias began in Basra on Tuesday.

US-led forces joined the battle for the first time overnight, bombing Shia positions, the UK military said.

I'm guessing that US-led forces joined the battle because the Iraqi forces were failing miserably, as we've seen about 25 other times in this misbegotten war. And this doesn't just include air cover, which we've been giving all along, but armor forces. And we're in the lead.

Four U.S. Stryker armored vehicles were seen in Sadr City by a Washington Post correspondent, one of them engaging Mahdi Army militiamen with heavy fire. The din of American weapons, along with the Mahdi Army's AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, was heard through much of the day. U.S. helicopters and drones buzzed overhead.

The clashes suggested that American forces were being drawn more deeply into a broad offensive that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, launched in the southern city of Basra on Tuesday, saying death squads, criminal gangs and rogue militias were the targets. The Mahdi Army of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite rival of Maliki, appeared to have taken the brunt of the attacks; fighting spread to many southern cities and parts of Baghdad.

As President Bush told an Ohio audience that Iraq was returning to "normalcy," administration officials in Washington held meetings to assess what appeared to be a rapidly deteriorating security situation in many parts of the country.

"Drawn in" like one is drawn into quicksand. Or perhaps a quagmire.

Baghdad Bush can go on all he wants, but I hope something else doesn't get lost. For two years, these Iraqi security forces, the ones who consistently get routed on the battlefield and defect to the other side and generally provide a pretext for our troops having to continue to return to battle, were organized by DAVID PETRAEUS, who now walks with angels, I'm told. We shouldn't forget this.

According to the WaPo we didn't even know in advance that this offensive would be launched, and considering that we had to end up doing the fighting that seems odd. It's obvious that this is a political fight disguised as a military operation, with Maliki's Iran-backed militia attacking Sadr's not-so-Iranian-backed militia in order to gain an edge heading into provincial elections in the Shiite south in the fall. That's all this is about, and our troops are now paying the price.

It's really enough to make you sick. The New York Times has some additional coverage. And don't miss Josh Marshall's take.

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