Maliki Said to Have Pledged Mahdi Crackdown
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that its sources in the Iraqi government are saying that there are some secret paragraphs to the agreement between the Bush administration and the al-Maliki government in Iraq to act against militia leaders. The article suggests that the model of the US raid on an Iranian liason office in Irbil might be deployed against Mahdi Army leaders and against Sunni Arab guerrilla commanders. That is, such raids would be small, targeted, quick and involve kidnapping suspected wrongdoers.
The article also quotes US ambassador in Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad, as saying that al-Maliki promised Bush that he would confront the [Shiite] Mahdi Army.
It says that Jabir al-Khafaji, a lieutenant of Muqtada al-Sadr who preached at his mosque in Kufa on Friday, condemned the “new politicians” and charging that “their strategy and goal is to get rid of the pious believers who have opposed the occupation.” Hmm. I’d say he thinks there is about to be a fight with the Mahdi Army.
The LA Times reports that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has appoint Abud Qanbar of Amara to be the top military commander in Baghdad. Qanbar is a Shiite, though nothing is known of his political affiliations. He would be in a position to tip off Shiite politicians and militia leaders about US plans. The US had pushed for another officer, but al-Maliki vetoed their choice and appointed his own man.
Adnan Dulaimi, a leader of the Sunni fundamentalist Iraqi Accord Front in parliament, criticized Qanbar’s appointment as a unilateral act of the prime minister that came with no consultation with parliament.
Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan says he will, too, invade Iraq if he wants to. And who, he says, is the US to tell others they can’t invade Iraq at will?
More on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s endorsement of the Bush administration’s goal of pushing Iranian influence out of Iraq.
Tomdispatch has an important piece, on America’s “sacrificial victims.”
Sven Gustafson on the reaction to Bush’s speech among Arab-Americans in Michigan (I am quoted as well).
Jebediah Reed at Radar Magazine makes the point that pundits who were wrong about the Iraq War have been well rewarded, whereas those like Bob Scheer and others who warned about its dangers have been fired or marginalized even though they were right.
This is because punditry is not about being right or wrong or exhibiting good judgment. It is about producing and reproducing elite American political discourse for the masses. It is more important that they can continue to justify changing elite policy than that they supported past policies that didn’t work out very well. All the real reporters I know at all well are deeply unhappy at their workplaces, where they typically have wealthy far rightwing bosses who interfere from time to time in the newspaper or magazine and make the reporter’s life hell. That is why it is unfair (as I have been reminded when I fall into it) to criticize reporters for where they work. Good reporters work for the Washington Times or UPI, i.e. for the Rev. Moon. But ultimately it is the Rev. Moon who decides who gets to be pundits for his media outlets. Apparently almost everyone in the news business is in pretty much the same position.