Tom Ricks of WaPo says that the US military sees itself as fighting 3 wars:
1. The war against Arab volunteers (“al-Qaeda”)
2. The war against Sunni Arab Iraqi dissidents
3. The war against Shiite militias.
The officers he talks to feel good about the second war, which they feel has petered out as Sunni Iraqis have joined the Awakening Councils. They also think they have made progress against the foreign fighters, which they call “al-Qaeda.” But they worry most of all about the third war, against Shiite special groups, which they allege deploy roadside bombs against US troops.
In my view, Washington always vastly overestimated the foreign infiltrators, who are a small group that cannot possibly be responsible for as much of the violence as Bush charges.
Likewise, they underestimate the activeness of the Iraqi Sunni Arabs. While the latter may not be fighting US troops as much in al-Anbar, they are still militant in Diyala, Salahuddin and Ninevah Provinces. And some of the operations blamed on “al-Qaeda” are actually those of local Sunni Arabs instead.
The US military seems to read all uses of explosively formed projectiles as Iranian and Shiite. I don’t find that plausible and I see notices of US troops being killed by them in Sunni Arab neighborhoods.
As for the Shiite militias being the most dangerous of all, that would depend on what exactly you were planning to do to the Shiite population. It is certainly the case that the Sadrists could well take over Iraq in the 2009 elections, and that their Mahdi Army would then form the National Guard of Iraq, and that they are hostile to the US.
McClatchy reports political violence on Saturday:
Police said that the final toll of the two explosions of Ghazil and new Baghdad markets reached 98 people killed and 125 others injured.
Five people (3 policemen and 2 civilians) were injured in an IED explosion that targeted a police patrol in Khadhraa neighborhood west Baghdad around 10:30 am.
Two civilians were killed and three others were injured in clashes between gunmen and the Iraqi security forces (police and army) in Kadhemiyah neighborhood north Baghdad around 5;00 pm.
Gunmen driving 13 cars (sedan cars) kidnapped three policemen who were in a check point near al Ferdous mosque in Ur neighborhood north Baghdad around 5:15 pm.
Police found five bodies in Baghdad today. Three bodies were found in Rusafa, the eastern side of Baghdad in the following neighborhoods (2 bodies in Sadr city and 1 body in Husseiniyah) the two other bodies were found in Amil neighborhood and Bayaa neighborhood in Karkh, the western side of Baghdad
Four members of Sahwa council (awakening council) were killed and nine others were injured in an IED explosion that targeted their patrol near Tal Mohammed village in the west bank of Shirqat town north of Tikrit city around 11:10 am.
A combined force (Iraqi police and the a force from Samara emergency brigade) raided al Jallam area east of Samara city south of Tikrit city today morning. The force killed four Arabic insurgents and the captured Safa’a Mohammed Abdullah al Khadawi, the assistant of Abo Mutasim, the prince of princes of Qaida.
The police of Sulaiman Bik area released two kidnapped people and arrested their kidnapper when they raided an area near Toz town east of Tikrit today morning.
two members of Sahwa [Awakening Council] were killed and six others were wounded when a suicide car bomb attacked a gathering for sahwa in the area between Makhmoor town and Qayara town south of Mosul city today afternoon. ‘
‘ SAMARRA – Six gunmen were killed and two policemen were wounded in clashes on Friday in central Samarra, 100 km north of Baghdad, police said.
HAWIJA – U.S. forces killed one gunman and arrested another after they had opened fire on a U.S. patrol near Hawija, 70 km southwest of Kirkuk, police said. Kirkuk is 250 km north of Baghdad.
TAL AFAR – Police killed three gunmen and arrested three others in Tal Afar, 420 km northwest of Baghdad, police said.
ISKANDARIYA – Two decomposed bodies with gunshot wounds were found Friday in Iskandariya, 40 km south of Baghdad, police said. ‘