Sunday, April 20, 2008

Iraq Forces Take Basra!

The normally pessimistic NY Times is today reporting some hopeful news as the Iraqi Army takes its country back from terrorists and Saddamists:

Iraqi soldiers took control of the last bastions of the cleric
Moktada al-Sadr’s militia in Basra on Saturday, and Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad
strongly endorsed the Iraqi government’s monthlong military operation against
the fighters.

By Saturday evening, Basra was calm, but only after air
and artillery strikes by American and British forces cleared the way for Iraqi
troops to move into the Hayaniya district and other remaining Mahdi Army militia
strongholds and begin house-to house searches, Iraqi officials said. Iraqi
troops were meeting little resistance, said Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, the
spokesman for the Iraqi Interior Ministry in Baghdad.

But Al Sadr still spouts defiance:

Despite the apparent concession of Basra, Mr. Sadr issued
defiant words on Saturday night. In a long statement read from the loudspeakers
of his Sadr City Mosque, he threatened to declare “war until liberation” against
the government if fighting against his militia forces continued.

But it
was difficult to tell whether his words posed a real threat or were a desperate
effort to prove that his group was still a feared force, especially given that
his militia’s actions in Basra followed a pattern seen again and again: the
Mahdi militia battles Iraqi government troops to a standstill and then

Sadr is definitely in dire straits, and is playing his final card: threats and intimidation, while hoping either Iran or the Democrats will save his faltering cause.

This is certainly good news, because just last year as we learned the British were pulling out, there seemed little more the US could do, tied down with the Surge, to protect this southern Iraq city. More proof that as the Iraqi's stand up, we will be able to stand down!

More coverage from the Long War Journal.