Saturday, April 05, 2008

US troops in Sadr City (Updated)

Xinhuanet, citing an Iraqi Interior Ministry source, said American tanks and other vehicles were massing in Sadr City on Thursday evening and Friday morning (April 3-4), in preparation for a campaign of searches and arrests looking for wanted people. And AlArabiya, citing its own correspondent, reported on Friday morning basically the same thing, adding that some Sadr City residents were taking refuge in mosques and schools, and some leaving the area altogether, expecting a repetition of the recent violence.

Then, in one of those hallucinatory scene-shifts that so often embellish these news-aggregating adventures, suddenly on Friday we are whisked away to a particular spot in southern Sadr City, where the Associated Press reporter Bradley Brooks (sounds like a bad novel, right?) is sitting with Col John Hort in "an abandoned four-storey cold-storage warehouse, overlook[ing] a dusty, trash-littered soccer field that days before was the insurgents' main launching field [for rocket attacks on the Green Zone] commanders said..." How they got there: "US troops reinforced positions on the edges of Sadr City, and battled their way into suspected launch sites."

Hort tells Brooks that they have driven the rocket-launchers farther north in Sadr City, where hopefully some of the 107 mm rockets will be out of range of the Green Zone. "Militants used a few 122 mm rockets, which can be fired from far deeper inside Sadr City, where there is no American presence, but they seem to have few of those weapons," says the reporter, apparently relaying to us what Hort told him.

However:

Hort said U.S. forces faced relentless militia attacks in Sadr City, but were able to establish patrol bases overlooking the launch sites.

The militiamen, he said, were "entrenched and determined to fight."

And they haven't yet surrendered the territory.

Meanwhile, nearby the Green Zone, McClatchy reported on Friday in its daily violence summary:

Baghdad

3 mortar rounds fell on the Green Zone, 2 at 9.45 am and 1 at 12.30 pm, Friday. No further details were available at the time of publication.

But if there is any reference to those three mortar rounds falling on the Green Zone on Friday, in any new report that day or this morning (Saturday), I have not been able to find it. It as if the same jinn from Alladin's lamp who showed us US forces driving the rocket-launchers out of range of the Green Zone had a hand in this too. But I don't know.

Politically, as it has been reported in a lot of places, Moqtada alSadr decided in time for announcement at Friday prayers that the venue for the Wednesday, April 9, mass-march has been changed from Najaf to Baghdad. This followed an uncharacteristically undiplomatic remark attributed to Ambassador Crocker by AlArabiya, to the effect that if they are planning on going to Najaf to make trouble they won't have much support, or words to that effect. A Sadrist spokesman explained that the shift to Baghdad was to make it easier for non-Sadrists to participate, because the anti-occupation theme is common to all Iraqis, not just the folks who frequent Najaf.

Meanwhile, the lead editorial in AlQuds alArabi, among other things a flagship publication for the Sunni resistance, says Maliki is toast. He turned on one of his last allies, the Sadrists, only to find himself deserted by perhaps one-third of his fighting force, and forced to turn to the Americans to avoid a catastrophic defeat in Basra and elsewhere in the South. He will no doubt be thrown out of office, says the editorialist, "either by the Americans, or by the people, or by both".

The editorialist doesn't have anything to say about what comes next. Disappointingly for a paper that prides itself on its nationalist spirit, the editorialist calls the Maliki-Sadr conflict a US-Iranian proxy war, with the US supporting Maliki and Iran providing weapons and supplies to the Sadrists. But there is also a recognition of the nationalist logic of the situation, for instance, when the editorialist expresses regret that the Iraqi Accord Front (the main Sunni bloc in parliament) "opportunistically" sided with Maliki, in hopes of cabinet seats and so on, suggesting it would have been better for them to have allied with the Sadrists. But these are issues that take time to mature.

UPDATE: As of the end of the day Saturday: (1) Quds Press said eyewitnesses reported fighting between the American forces and Mahdi Army fighters in "various parts" of Sadr City, within numbered sections 7, 8 and 9, the only additional detail being that some of the Americans had taken up sniper positions at Allawa Jamila (a big market, according to Ladybird at RoadstoIraq, who flagged this article), and at the nearby tax office.

(2) As for Voices of Iraq, their only Sadr City item on Saturday was a report that said Maliki issued an order permitting ambulances and other essential vehicles into and out of Sadr City and another Shiite area, both still subject to last week's overall ban on vehicular traffic.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The US military once again are employing tactics that not only are bitterly opposed and despised by Iraqi citizens, but ones that cause enormous casualties: the 3a.m. house raids, and "close-air support" respectively. The persistent use of such tactics absolutely guarantees unbridgeable alienation of a significant portion of the Iraqi people from the occupiers and those whom they (MNF-I) anoint as "the government".
And will questions regarding this conduct be a subject of the sainted Petraeus and Crocker hearings before Congress next week? What do you think!

OT: when I log into my Google account, on other Blogger sites I then have ready access to the COMMENTS section as a logged-in account holder under my username...on this site for some reason, the login doesn't appear, and when I try the login option in your COMMENTS section, I get a "wrong password" flag, so I am forced to go "anonymous"...any suggestions?

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have the same problem with posting here.


anna missed

12:20 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Sorry about that, I wish I had some idea what is causing that. (When I'm logged in to Google I get the right comments screen, and when I'm not I get the log-in option which works, accepting my password and so on).

Under "settings--comments" they give me four options under who can comment: (1) anyone; (2) registered users--includes open i/d; (3) users with Google Accounts; and (4) only members of this blog.

I have it set to "anyone". I think some of those other options might have been added lately, maybe they introduced a bug with it...Apart from not giving you your logged-in status, I don't see why they it would then also reject your own password. When I get a chance, I'll check out their forums and see if anyone is talking about this...

1:43 PM  
Blogger annie said...

i did not post for awhile because i got a notice that said 'comments are for guests only'

i thouht perhaps you had blocked me.

something is very amiss.

24 Steps to Liberty is Blocked!

this is right after i linked to your green zone exodus post. paranoid?

maybe blogger has an agenda.

10:50 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Annie, I think these are separate issues, not necessarily linked. I'm sorry you got that "guests only" message, I don't know what happened, I would not dream of blocking you. I've noticed there are lot of complaints on the blogger forum about people having their blogs blocked, hopefully the case of 24steps, people, whom I don't know, will be sorted out right away (it looks as if there might have been an obscure same-name issue...)

8:58 AM  
Blogger badger said...

looks like 24 steps is back, annie, you brought them luck. I'm putting them on my reading list.

5:40 PM  
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11:07 PM  

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