CNN Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Saturday that Iraq's armed forces are set for an assault on Baghdad to take out militias and rogue security forces. Aided by multinational troops, the Iraqi forces "will hunt down all outlaws regardless of their sectarian and political affiliations," al-Maliki said at an Iraqi Army Day parade.
I wonder how long it will take before al Sadr seeks an exception for hia Mahdi army, the one reallu causing much of the problem. If he does exempt them, Bush should pull out immediately."We will also severely punish those [security forces] who do not carry out orders or operate in a partisan or sectarian way," he said. Forces will search out insurgents neighborhood-by-neighborhood, The Associated Press reported, and will start the assault this weekend. The announcement came two days after al-Maliki and President Bush spoke by video conference for two hours.
CQ blogged Anyone want to guess the substance of the conversation between Bush and Maliki? It probably was what a former boss of mine used to call "come to Jesus" meetings -- meaning that the purpose of the meeting was to convey an unvarnished and unpleasant reality, usually as a final warning before more drastic steps needed to be taken.
The unvarnished reality is that even if the US "surges" troops in the next few weeks, it will only last for a short period. Bush does not have the political support for an extended escalation, even from his own party. It isn't even clear what an extended escalation would do, especially the low-level one proposed in recent weeks, although a temporary boost with a specific mission might actually accomplish something. Bush needs Maliki to stop protecting Sadr's Mahdi Army and to take the steps necessary to break it and the rest of the militias, because without the participation of the Iraqis, the US cannot hope to clear and hold the necessary territory in Baghdad.