Thursday, April 17, 2008

Why Did Maliki Do the Op in Basra?

Here's an interesting theory: Maliki may have ordered up the Basra operation when he learned that the US was planning on going into Basra in the summer.
Maliki's argument is that U.S. troops would have inflamed Shiite feelings in the south, and that's why he wanted them to stay out. Porter suggests that American commanders have a different theory: that Maliki wasn't really serious about eliminating the Mahdi Army and was afraid the American military might be a little too good at it.
Kevin Drum is skeptical. I think it makes a certain amount of sense. There is a more benign spin that one can put on the same scenario. Maliki was worried that a big US operation in the South would leave him appearing very weak to his core constituencies, and he thought the Iraqis could do the job. Of course, Maliki doesn't want the JAM completely destroyed. He merely wants it weak enough that it's beholden to him politically.

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