Tuesday, April 3, 2007
The Honeymoon's Over
Remember at the outset of the Baghdad troop surge, when Moqtada al-Sadr standing down the Al Mahdi militia was a good sign? Well, think again. Because according to the LA Times, with Sunni insurgents targeting Shiite neighborhoods with increasingly deadly car bombs, some of the Al Mahdi fighters aren't too keen on sitting around doing nothing.
Trouble is, Moqtada doesn't have too much room to operate. His leadership has either gone underground or been arrested. And for all his railing against US forces, he still stands to lose more than he gains by breaking with the Maliki government and openly confronting Coalition forces.
So guess who's picking off the Al Mahdi hotheads who haven't just turned into independent rogue operators? That's right. Our good friends in Tehran.
My hunch is that Moqtada will pick a symbolic fight (ie. a limited confrontation with either another militia or American troops) sometime soon. Nothing drastic. Just enough to re-establish his control over his fighters without permanently backing himself into a corner.
In any event, something tells me that the Surge, which had a predictably positive initial impact, is about to get bumpy.