Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cease Fire By Muqtada Al Sadr in Serious Jeopardy

Al-Sadr's Shiite Mahdi Army is among the most powerful militias in Iraq, and the cease-fire he ordered last August has been credited with helping reduce violence around Iraq by 60 percent or more in the past six months.

The cease fire is the violence reduction, not the surge. Evidence in point. The surge was announced in January, that moronic state of the union speech. Still, violence continued and intensified over the summer including three months in April, May and June where deaths of American soldiers ranged above 100 + deaths. In August there was 85 American deaths and then the casualties dramatically drop off down to 65 in September and 38 in October. Recently, the deaths have been ticking back up. This says nothing of the violence that has occurred to and by the Iraqis on their own people. 60 percent violence reduction is credited since June. The violence is still occurring, but at much less violent levels, although recent events have sparked a bit of an uptick in the violence.

In a separate attack, three American troops were killed by a roadside bomb Tuesday night in northwestern Baghdad, the U.S. military said. Their names were not released.

Sheik Salah al-Obeidi, a spokesman for al-Sadr in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, said that if the cleric failed to issue a statement by Saturday saying that the cease-fire was extended, "then that means the freeze is over." Al-Sadr's followers would be free to resume attacks.

Influential members of al-Sadr's movement said earlier this month they had urged the radical cleric to call off the cease-fire, which initially was set to expire at the end of the month.
Al-Sadr's followers have claimed the U.S.-Iraqi raids, particularly in the southern Shiite cities of Diwaniyah, Basra and Karbala, are a pretext to crack down on the wider movement, which has pulled its support for the Washington-backed government.

"Resuming their activities, whether against the government or civilians, will lead to a new confrontation with them," she said. And the reconciliation of the political process will seriously be damaged, though this isn't occuring anyway. No one has claimed responsibility for Tuesday's rocket attack, the second in as many days. But in both cases the explosives apparently were launched from Shiite militia strongholds in the capital, underscoring the fragility of the truce. Smith, at a news conference later Wednesday, blamed Iranian-backed Shiite militias for the attacks but said the rationale behind the timing of the attacks was unclear.

If the cease fire is called off you can no doubt expect a serious increase in violence, therefore cementing the need for us to get the hell out of there and let the Iraqis decide their own future. We can help, but we cannot do it with rockets, bombs and soldiers. It is completely counterproductive.

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