Mahdi Army holds firm as Iraqi PM risks all in battle of Basra – Times Online
THE arrival of the Iraqi army supported by US warplanes did little to dent the defiance of Abu Sajad and his 22 comrades in a Shi’ite militia cell holed up in a mosque in Basra.Alerted by a mobile phone call to the arrival of US military reinforcements, Abu Sajad calmly selected eight fighters and dispatched them to plant roadside bombs packed into red plastic fruit crates.
“We are to plant them throughout the Qaziza neighbourhood to welcome the army when they try to enter the area,” he told his men. He sent the bombers away on scooters and motorcycles which, he explained, were “quicker to move and less conspicuous . . . We have a great surprise for the army”.
As night fell after a fifth day of heavy fighting around Basra yesterday, Iraqi forces controlled by Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, were still struggling to subdue renegade Shi’ite fighters whose shifting loyalties and challenges to Baghdad rule have begun to pose a serious threat to American and British strategy.
Ze fight. It continues. What is being fought over has become more clear.
al-Maliki is fighting for relevance. Which lets al-Sadr fight for peace, like a good boy.
BAGHDAD: The Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr said Sunday that he was pulling his fighters off the streets of Iraq and called on the government to stop raids against his followers and to free those it had arrested.
“Because of religious responsibility and to stop Iraqi blood being shed,” Sadr said in a nine-point statement given to journalists in the holy Shiite city of Najaf, “we call for an end to armed appearances in Basra and all other provinces.”
The message was broadcast by loudspeakers on mosques. Followers handed out candies in the Mahdi army militia stronghold of Sadr City here. Sadr’s offices in several southern cities also said they would comply with the order.
Hmm, at least we know who is fighting for what…for the moment. Updates on the resolution coming soon. Yes, this is a pre-amble to the inevitable civil war Iraq gets to have.