Saturday, March 29, 2008
no peace talks:
On Thursday, President Bush praised Maliki's decision to go to war with Moqtada Sadr. Sadr's reaction is to say Bush's words have meant that this really is war. According to a Gorilla's Guides translation of a Sadrist statement:
The main Sadrist spokesman al-Obeidi has said that the GZG government “have closed the doors to dialogue for a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Basrah.” He said that al Sadr has issued a statement saying that Bush’s statements on the crisis provide legitimate legal grounds for the Mahdi army and the Sadrist current to transform their role from calling for peaceful mediation of the crisis to the defender of the rights of the people and to protect innocent civilians.

Sadrists also confirmed a delegation of the Central Bureau of the Sadrist office in Najaf visited Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani and discussed with him developments in the security situation in Basra. Sistani expressed displeasure of the deteriorating performance of the government in the areas of security and economy.
Will U.S. armor units come south from Baghdad and Mosul to relieve the soon-to-be-overwhelmed Iraqi Army?
--Spencer Ackerman
Bush still has no idea how fucked he is.

Does Bush even know who the players are in Iraq?

Spencer, since this is your beat you might know the answer to this. I've been wondering about it for a while. I remember Makiya said Bush didn't even know Shia from Sunni, and later reports confirmed that he was still fuzzy on the difference well into the war.

Also, google will translate Arabic:
Blogger Chris | 5:42 PM

Chris, do you mean does Bush know the players, or does Bush know the Sunni/Shiite distinction? If you mean the former, he's personalized the systemic problems of Iraq very deeply, and everyone I've ever talked to who's briefed him (admittedly not a very large group) indicates that he knows at least briefing-book levels of depth about the personages.

My guess is that he knows who's Shiite and who's Sunni based on what those briefs say about particular individuals. In a generic sense, I couldn't say.

Also, I'd further guess that those briefs he receives about the players don't go beyond what he wants to/is prepared to hear. Would a bureaucrat somewhere really tell him that Sadr is the most popular, charismatic and powerful Shiite figure in Iraq?
Blogger Spencer Ackerman | 7:22 AM

I'm trying to figure out this article by the BBC with Sadr effectively standing down his militias; is this PR or is something going on in the background?
Blogger Matt | 9:45 AM