Shiite Mahdi Army Battles US And Iraq Forces

Senator John McCain is boasting that his ideas to increase the number of American troops has produced the components of victory in Iraq. Usnfortunately, he forgot to inform the Mahdi militia of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr the surge was working. Armed Mahdi militia appeared on the streets of Baghdad for the first time in months as al-Sadr announced a nationwide campaign of strikes and demonstrations to protest a government crackdown on his movement. US and Iraq troops supported by helicopters fought Shiite militiamen on the streets of Baghdad and the city of Mosul in the north was also the scene of fighting between the groups. An escalation in fighting could end Sadr’s unilaterial cease fire and spark a major war that would make a mockery of Bush and Cheney claims the war in Iraq was headed toward victory.

In southern Iraq fighting continued for control of Basra as Shiite groups clashed with the Iraq army. It was unclear exactly who was in control of the city since Iraq police prevented reporters from having free access to areas where there was fighting. Brtish troops who had been occupying Basra for years, but had recently left the city in charge of the Iraq government, remained at the Basra airport and were avoiding becoming engaged in any fighting.

During the past several months there has been confusion as to the best way to handle the Madhi army and the Iraq government has probably decidede on a policy of confrontation. The result is more fighting. Were there other possibilities to resolve issues raised by the Mahdi army?