Professor Cole Explains The Battle of Basra
By: Mark W Adams

Via NeedlenoseNow that you know who the players are, and have a pretty good idea that the current cluster-fuque is something that smells suspiciously Cheneyesque, Juan Cole confirms that your tin-foil hat is receiving on the correct frequency.
My reading is that the US faced a dilemma in Iraq. It needed to have new provincial elections in an attempt to mollify the Sunni Arabs, especially in Sunni-majority provinces like Diyala, which has nevertheless been ruled by the Shiite Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. But if they have provincial elections, their chief ally, the Islamic Supreme Council, might well lose southern provinces to the Sadr Movement. In turn, the Sadrists are demanding a timetable for US withdrawal, whereas ISCI wants US troops to remain. So the setting of October, 2008, as the date for provincial elections provoked this crisis. I think Cheney probably told ISCI and Prime Minister al-Maliki that the way to fix this problem and forestall the Sadrists [c]oming to power in Iraq, was to destroy the Mahdi Army, the Sadrists' paramilitary. Without that coercive power, the Sadrists might not remain so important, is probably their thinking. I believe them to be wrong, and suspect that if the elections are fair, the Sadrists will sweep to power and may even get a sympathy vote. It is admittedly a big 'if.'
Silly me. I was thinking that Maliki would take a political beating for unleashing the Army on his own people. Indeed, I overthunk things, believing Maliki would look even worse for appearing too weak to handle the job without being rescued by the Americans who will undoubtedly act in our usual heavy-handed way and destroy the city in order to save it.

Seriously, if they can rig Florida and Ohio, no amount of purple die will ensure fair elections in Iraq.

Maliki says, according to reports translated by Professor Cole, that he doesn't care about political parties, but won't tolerate armed gangs (like the Mahdi Army) roaming the streets. Some of those gangs are none too happy with their Prime Minister:
In Baghdad, al-Hayat says, thousands of protesters came out to rally against Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, demanding that he resign and threatening him with a trial worse than that of Saddam Hussein.
Baghdad is essentially locked down until Sunday and the US Embassy is under mortar fire. Good Times. Great Surge.

Here's the take that should make you spit coffee all over your monitor, so swallow now.
A member of Iyad Allawi's National Iraqi List, which has 22 seats in parliament, said it was necessary to stop the activities of lawless gunmen. But Izzat al-Shahbandar warned that if the campaign went on very long, it could derail the political process in Iraq.
As if the political process was just going swimmingly before.

Brad DeLong offers as good an explanation why we are backing the same folks Iran likes in the inter-shiite struggle -- they speak English. Of course, that doesn't explain why Cheney backs President Bush, since he doesn't speak English all that well either.

But don't fret Boys and Girls. Your PrezNitWit has everything under control, you see, all of this "is a sign normalcy is returning back to Iraq," cuz after all, Iraq "got their budget passed." This dangerous man obviously lacks the basic awareness of a third grader.

We just keep on spreadin' that democracy stuff like fertilizer on desert sand. Meanwhile, as we ready our big guns, Sadr asked for peace talks and was rebuffed by Maliki and protesters loyal to Sadr demonstrated peacefully. It's quite apparent that despite NPR stating matter of factly "There is no doubt that this operation needed to happen" it didn't have to go down this way. Unfortunately for all concerned, the Cheney/Maliki coalition can't win a fair political contest and are forcing the issue.

  • On Monday, a fairly light day in the post surge conflict, only 17 Iraqis were killed, 26 wounded and two dead US contractors were identified. This was the day after we reached 4,000 dead US troops.
  • Tuesday deaths were up 200% at 54 with 129 wounded, plus one GI. Gen. Petreaus blamed Iran.
  • Wednesday, even more Iraqis were killed, 76, wounded more than doubled from the day before at 367, and 2 GI's and a British soldier were killed. We blamed Iran some more.
  • Yesterday, things really got hairy with 225 dead Iraqis, 538 wounded, 1 GI and three of our contractors killed. Pentagon insists it's all Iran's fault.
I don't know about you, but I'm sensing a very scary pattern here. We started air-strikes in earnest today.

Look, with even a goodly number of Democrats believing that Barack Obama is a Muslim, and even good progressive bloggers finding themselves comfortable using Karl Rove as a primary source of political insight, it won't take much to convince a substantial number of Americans (enough to stave off immediate impeachment, anyway) that we had no choice but expand the current theater of operations across the Shat al-Arab right into Iran -- for the maneuvering room if not in hot pursuit of "Terrorists."

This is going to go from awful to extremely fucked up in a hurry.