In an unprecedented move Two Shiite militia commanders stated Thursday that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has stopped protecting radical anti- American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army under pressure from Washington, while the fighters described themselves as under siege in their Sadr City stronghold.
During much of his nearly eight months in office, al-Maliki, who relies heavily on al-Sadr's political backing, has blocked or ordered an end to many U.S.-led operations against the Mahdi Army.
Even as recently as Oct. 31, al-Maliki, trying to capitalize on what he perceived to be American voter discontent with the war and White House’s reluctance to open a public fight with the Iraqi leader just before the election, won U.S. agreement to lift military blockades on Sadr City.
As may of you know, most of the violence in the country was perpetrated by al- Qaida in Iraq, with horrible car and suicide bombings and random acts of madness and brutality.
When al-Qaida bombers blew up the Golden Dome mosque, an important Shiite shrine in the mainly Sunni city of Samarra on Feb. 22, Shiite militiamen, especially the Mahdi Army fighters based in Sadr City, stormed out of the violent enclave in a drive for revenge that has only grown in ferocity and brutality.
Al-Sadr controls a militia with an estimated 60,000 fighters that has rebelled twice against the American military and is accused of widening the sectarian war with reprisal killings of Sunni Arabs, targeted assassinations and kidnappings.
Al-Maliki has been reluctant to break politically with al-Sadr, whose party controls 30 of the 275 seats in parliament. Support from Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a moderate Sunni, whose bloc has 44 seats, could allow al-Maliki to stay in power without relying on al-Sadr.
It also seems that a dramatic increase of American troops in and around Baghdad is going to be put in place to battle the Mahdi Army and help the Iraqi government in the transition from ally to al-Sadr to enemy.
It is about time that our forces confront this radical cleric and stem the flow of his influence; he cannot be allowed to inhibit the progress being made in that country by our hard working troops and the Iraqi people who have to live with his sword above their head.
Even the extremely slanted Iraq Study Group stated, "As the Mahdi army has grown in size and influence, some elements have moved beyond Sadr's control," the report concludes.
"The situation is very, very serious. It requires an injection of additional troops to control the situation and to allow the political process to proceed," said McCain, Arizona's influential Republican Senator who is pushing for a Presidential bid.
"We should have arrested Moqtada al-Sadr three years ago," said McCain. "He continues to be a major obstacle to peace, his influence in domestic politics needs to be eliminated dramatically."
In 2005, al-Sadr had fewer than 10,000 fighters, but the new report puts that figure now at as many as 60,000 — or three fighters loyal to al-Sadr for every seven U.S. soldiers in the country.
The latest estimate is believed to include a dedicated core as well as part-time fighters.
Now is the time to take him out and make that country a safer place for all and we cannot allow ourselves to be frightened and cower to the likes of insane individuals such as this man because if we do, we are only asking for more of them same.
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