Sunday, January 14, 2007

Mahdi Army lowers its profile

McClatchy Washington Bureau reported Mahdi Army militia members have stopped wearing their black uniforms, hidden their weapons and abandoned their checkpoints in an apparent effort to lower their profile in Baghdad in advance of the arrival of U.S. reinforcements.

It is one thing to intimidate Sunnis; tangling with the US Army and Marines is another thing entirely.
"We have explicit directions to keep a low profile . . . not to confront, not to be dragged into a fight and to calm things down," said one official who received the orders from the anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Al-Sadr heads the Mahdi Army, Iraq's largest Shiite militia, headquartered in Najaf.
I bet he is still wearing that Black Turban. Can we at least shoot him, or arrest him like he should have been arrested years ago.
The official asked not to be named because he was not authorized to reveal the militia's plans. Militia members say al-Sadr ordered them to stand down shortly after President George Bush's announcement that the U.S. would send 17,500 more American troops to Baghdad to work alongside the Iraqi security forces. The decision by al-Sadr to lower his force's profile in Baghdad will likely cut violence in the city and allow American forces to show quick results from their beefed up presence. But it is also unlikely in the long term to change the balance of power here. Mahdi Army militiamen say that while they remain undercover now, they are simply waiting for the security plan to end.
Maybe if Congress delays Bush sending the reinforcements they will make the mistake of putting their black uniforms on again, and setting up their checkpoints, and we can shoot them then with the forces we have there.

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