Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Why al-Maliki attacked Basra

The three reasons the Iraqi prime minister launched his ill-fated assault on the Sadrists of southern Iraq.

By Juan Cole

"......The survival of the current Iraqi government, based on rivals to the Sadrists such as ISCI and the Da'wa Party of al-Maliki, hangs in the balance. Clearly, al-Maliki felt that the operation had to be launched, and may well have thought that it is better to do it now, so that it will not be fresh in the minds of the Iraqi or American electorate when they go to the polls in the fall. Now that al-Maliki's campaign has gone so badly, it raises the question of whether there will be a sympathy vote for al-Sadr in October. The Iraqis, a majority of whom say they want a short timetable for U.S. withdrawal, may well have an opportunity to elect provincial governments that, practically speaking, want the same thing, in October. If that happens, it is hard to see how the U.S. presence can last, since the U.S. needs bases in Shiite provinces like Baghdad so as to function. "

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