War Is On
One unintended consequence of the Sadr-Maliki battle was to make Sadr even more powerful among Iraqi Shiites than he already was. A second is on display in today’s Washington Post:
Mahdi Army commanders and fighters spoke on Saturday of a military and political landscape starkly altered by the Basra offensive. They vowed revenge against Maliki and his Dawa party and against the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a powerful Shiite party led by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a key U.S. ally and Sadr’s main rival.
The hostilities highlighted how intra-sect struggles, after five years of war, are increasingly defining the nature of conflict in Iraq, as violence lessens between Sunnis and Shiites.
“Now, our fight is with Badr and Dawa, along with the Americans,” said Abu Abdullah, a burly man with a rugged face, thick beard and stern voice. “They are bigger enemies” than the extremist Sunnis, he added.
If you think a Shiite-led Iraqi government that had to deal with Sunni-Shiite tensions was intransigent, just wait until you see a Shiite-led government literally at war with its own constituents. But not to worry. John McCain says this is progress! Via Matthew Yglesias:
“Look, I didn’t particularly like the outcome of this thing, but I am convinced that we now have a government that is governing with some effect and a military that is functioning very effectively,” Mr. McCain said of the Iraqi operation.
If even outcomes McCain says are bad ones constitute evidence of progress in Iraq, well then of course we can’t listen to Democrats’ counsels of retreat and defeat. After all, an outcome McCain likes is progress and an outcome McCain doesn’t like is also progress so if McCain is in the White House there will be outcomes, and irrespective of the outcome McCain will cite it as progress and evidence of the need to continue.