Monday, April 9, 2007

U.S May Have To Fight Mahdi Army

UPDATE: Check out the new blog covering the Mid East: Outsider On The Inside

Crazy Cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr urged his followers to focus their campaigns of violence against the 'occupiers', namely the Americans. This marks a turn in recent rhetoric from the kooky-Shiite leader, who had previously instructed his militias to act non-confrontational towards American forces.

The firebrand cleric's mandate came as a Baghdad security spokesman announced that a ban on civilian vehicular traffic will go into effect Monday, the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad.

The 24-hour vehicle ban is slated to begin at 5 a.m. (10 p.m. Sunday ET), Baghdad security operations spokesman Gen. Qassim Atta said on Iraqi state television.

South of the capital, in Diwaniya, U.S. and Iraqi forces were in their third day of battling al-Sadr's Mehdi Army.

Meanwhile, caravans of the cleric's followers were converging on Najaf, south of Diwaniya, for an anti-American demonstration scheduled there Monday at al-Sadr's behest.

They walked through the streets Sunday chanting in Arabic, "No, no to the occupiers; yes, yes to Islam" and "Iraq will always be independent and free of occupiers," police said.

A significant shift, because now the U.S surge which aimed at ridding the capital of insurgents, may have to deal with armed and organized Shiite militias, should they listen to Al-Sadr. Of course, if the U.S was now to leave within the next year or so, Al-Sadr and his followers will take credit in driving the 'evil' American 'occupier' forces out of Iraq, and will demand larger representation in government. The 'Hezbollah model'. This ought to also cause a few waves amongst U.S Congress, since stories like this only play into the hands of the Democrats, and are routinely politicized in Washington, so we'll keep track of that.

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