Friday, March 28, 2008

This Time, I Really Mean It!*

The AP reports that Maliki's offensive is going so well that he's extended the deadline imposed on the militia of Moqtada al-Sadr:

Al-Maliki's office also announced Friday that it has given residents in Basra until April 8 to turn over "heavy and medium-size weapons" in return for unspecified monetary compensation.

The deadline is separate from the three-day ultimatum for gunmen to surrender their arms and renounce violence or face harsher measures, which expires later Friday, government adviser Sadiq al-Rikabi said.

Separate? Sure. Not only is Maliki extending the deadline, but he's throwing in some cash incentives to sweeten the pot. Those aren't the negotiating tactics of a party with the upper hand. The Sadrists, thus far, don't seem overly enthused with Maliki's offer.

One quibble with the way the AP characterizes the current conflict:

The campaign to rid Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad, of lawless gangs and Shiite militias — some believed tied to nearby Iran — is a major test for the Shiite leader and for the Iraqi military.

Basra has several militias serving several masters (apart from Sadr's group, there's Fadila's militia, tribal militias and, of course, ISCI's Badr Corp - which has heavily infiltrated the official Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) - as well as other assorted actors).

Yet, oddly enough, Maliki's effort to "rid Basra" of militias has only focused on Sadr's. In fact, Badr Corp. irregulars are joining the fight on the side of the ISF (which is, again, itself heavily infiltrated by Badr Corp.). If cracking down on militias is really the goal, shouldn't Maliki be targeting Badr as well, not allowing his troops to fight side by side with an illegal militia?


*(Tomeck gets credit for the title)

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