Sunday, November 11, 2007

Big News From Iraq Today...

Oh wait, no there wasn't. No Iraq stories on the home pages of today's Al Jazeera, BBC, NYTimes, WaPo, LATimes, Seattle Times, or Seattle PI.

The big news yesterday was on the BBC and concerned the Mehdi (Mahdi) Army losing their influence on the populace in Karbala. The Iraqi police say that they maintained power through a reign of terror and now that they are losing influence people are finally starting to come forward.

Maj Gen Raid Shaker told a public meeting the militia of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr had brought four years of terror and anarchy causing 670 deaths.

His allegations were backed by scores of angry people attending the meeting.

...

The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says such direct and public allegations are unprecedented and may indicate growing confidence on the part of the authorities that they can take on the militia.

...

The Mehdi Army's grip on Karbala - home to some of Shia Islam's holiest shrines - was broken in August after it was blamed for violent clashes with police in which more than 50 people were killed.

Before that, such public accusations against the militia would have been unthinkable, our correspondent says.


I have always felt that the Mehdi Army was one of the major problems in Iraq although some recent posting by Bartle Bull and over at Back Talk have made me re-examine that thought. My current feelings is that al-Sadr was useful in breaking Al-Qaeda in Iraq but remains a dangerous destabilizing influence and the Mehdi army must be neutralized. Engram at Back Talk has a post today that I think backs my position.

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