We are never going to leave:
Heavy fighting broke out Tuesday in two of Iraq’s largest cities, as Iraqi ground forces and helicopters mounted a huge operation to break the grip of the Shiite militias controlling Basra, and Iraqi forces clashed with militias in Baghdad. The fighting threatened to destabilize a long-term truce that had helped reduce the level of violence in the five-year-old Iraq war.
The fighting continued on Wednesday, and a spokesman for the Iraqi military said 40 people had been killed and 200 wounded in the two days of fighting in the southern city of Basra, according to The Associated Press. The spokesman, Col. Karim al-Zaidi, did not specify how many were militiamen, Iraqi soldiers or civilians caught up in the fighting.
The battles, along with indications in recent weeks that militia and insurgent attacks had already been creeping up, raised fears across Iraq that Moktada al-Sadr, the renegade Shiite cleric, could pull out of a cease-fire he declared last summer. If his Mahdi Army militia does step up attacks, that could in turn slow American troop withdrawals.
A few thoughts:
1.) The military always “wins” face-to-face combat. We have the superior training, weaponry, and firepower. Not sure how useful that is in this situation, but if it is a conventional battle, this may be something our guys relish after months of being sniped at and blown up by road-side bombs.
2.) If I were a paranoid conspiracy theorist, I would note that several sources have claimed the Mahdi army are revolting and backing out of their truce because our military was covertly targeting their leadership. What better way to keep troop levels the same so that our negotiated long-term agreement demands the US in Iraq forever than provoking a battle with behind the scenes assassinations.
3.) WHo knows what role Iran is playing in all this.
Total mess. We are never leaving.