Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Darkening shadows" 

This is Cheney's newest ominous-sounding term when he is trying to make ominous noises about how everyone he doesn't like in the Middle East -- Iran and Syria and Hamas - are really to blame for why things aren't going very well there. But the term is a useful one for recent happenings.
Today's news started with the story that Iran was the designated goat for yesterday's Green Zone attack -- though now they've walked that story back and are just blaming the attack on "Iranian-backed Shiite militia factions".
Associated Press is quoting Al-Sadr militia commanders as saying they are getting weapons from Iran:
The Mahdi Army, believed to number up to 60,000 fighters, was battered by U.S. troops in a series of battles in 2004. But the militia appears to have regrouped and, according to commanders, is ready to respond to "provocations."
According to the three commanders, the militia has received fresh supplies of weapons from Iran — contradicting repeated Iranian denials that it is supporting Iraqi militias.
The weapons, the commanders said, included rockets, armor-piercing roadside bombs and anti-aircraft guns that could be effective against low-flying helicopters.
Additionally, they said an infusion of cash from Iran has been spent on new communication centers equipped with computers with Internet connections, fax machines and mobile satellite telephones.
Now, the militias could point to internal Iraqi politics as the reason why they need all this stuff. But certainly it could also be used to attack US troops.
Which seems to be what the US has in mind again -- now that they've passed the 4,000 milestone, what's another thousand? They probably can't possibly reach the 5,000 mark before the election in November anyway.
After a year where America bought itself some peace in Iraq by paying off their Iraq enemies, the US now seems to have started up hostilities once again.
The latest rumblings in the Mahdi Army are provoked by the belief that the Americans and their Iraqi allies abused the cease-fire by conducting raids that have targeted hundreds of al-Sadr's backers and aides.
Militia commanders told The Associated Press they viewed the arrests as a move by Shiite rivals to deny them a prominent political voice. They also cited al-Sadr's statement this month that his cease-fire did not preclude his followers from self defense [which] gave them the nod to take on their adversaries . . .
"They don't seem to realize that the Sadrist trend is like a volcano," Abdul-Hadi al-Mohammedawi told worshippers Friday in Kufa, referring to the Iraqi government and its U.S. backers. "If it explodes, it will crush their rotten heads."
Leaders of the Sadrist movement are calling on supporters to protest the arrests by closing their shops and businesses.
The call was heeded Monday in at least two predominantly Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad . . .
Police said Mahdi Army militiamen have also issued general strike orders in three other areas of southwestern Baghdad and in Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of the capital.
"This civil disobedience may be called for in the rest of Baghdad and maybe in southern provinces if the government does not free our detainees" . . . between 2,000 and 2,500 Mahdi Army militiamen have been detained since the cease-fire came into force.
As if this isn't depressing enough, I've been reading the testimony at the Winter Soldier hearings about Iraq (h/t The Rev).
And let's wrap up with another round of What Digby Says. She says it rather well:
Anyone who votes for McCain in November is voting for war with Iran. It's that simple.

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