I will post more when I know more. Off to a meeting for now.
Update From the New York Times
BAGHDAD — A day after launching a huge operation that ignited heavy fighting in two of Iraq’s largest cities, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki gave the Shiite militias controlling the southern oil city of Basra an ultimatum on Wednesday: lay down their weapons within 72 hours or face more severe consequences.
Hopefully more severe than the last seventy-eleven times that operations have started against the Mehdi Army and Maliki just called a halt to them.
It appears the Americans are trying to distance themselves, whether that is because the command doesn't think this is such a hot idea or because they want to show what the Iraqi army is capable of I don't know.
As the fighting in Basra and Baghdad intensified on Wednesday, the American military command, speaking for the first time about the crackdown, characterized it as an Iraqi-led operation in which American-led forces were playing only an advisory role. An Iraqi hospital official said that the battle in Basra between Iraqi forces and Shiite militias led by Moktada al-Sadr, the anti-American cleric, had so far claimed the lives of 40 people and wounded at least 200, figures that include militia members as well as Iraqi officers.