Militias v. the Military in Iraq

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

When Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, launched an attack last week on Shiite militias in the southern city of Basra, it set off a week of heavy fighting. In the end, U.S. and British troops were called in to provide support, and the fighting spread to other cities, including Baghdad. Now, Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on members of his militia to withdraw, in what he is calling a victory. On the show today, we'll talk about what's happened in Iraq this past week, why Sadr abruptly withdrew his forces over the weekend, and who — if anyone — can claim victory. We'll also talk about the role of U.S. troops in the fighting, and what all of this means for the future of Iraq.



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Is al-Sadr affirming some authority while at the same time, confirming the weakness of al-Maliki's government?

Sent by Steve | 2:08 PM | 3-31-2008

Neal's thinking is interesting at the least, if Malaki has lost both militarily and politically after one week and one battle how does he spin our continued presence in Iraq after five years.

Sent by Garrett Obluck | 2:25 PM | 3-31-2008

Is there some truth that Maliki targeted groups that are opposition to him and his government?

Sent by Steve Eisele (Icelee) | 2:27 PM | 3-31-2008

Your caller suggested that the current cease fire by Sadr is an opening for diplomacy. Your guest countered that it rather shows strength of the Maliki government suggesting that if they may get a military victory if they just keep fighting. It seems like our answer to everything that happens in Iraq is to escalate the fighting and we will somehow achieve "victory", whatever that is.

Sent by Bobb Carlsmith | 2:27 PM | 3-31-2008

What makes the people who suffered under Saddam the enemy of the Maliki government and SCIRI, i.e., the folks who left and spent 40 years in Iran? SCIRI is composed of the contemporaries of Ayatollah Homaini and the Revolution in Iran.

Sent by Jean Smith | 2:30 PM | 3-31-2008

please call a spade a spade. the iraqi prime minister failed miserably at trying to contain the mahdi army. there was no way he could have defeated this army. i think the US army would have dealt with the mahdi army long ago if they could. could you please ask the lady on the panel to stop sounding like an expert. we have too many of such people and its all talk talk.

Sent by | 2:32 PM | 3-31-2008

Emerging from tribalism to modernism may be the root cause of our war against "terror".
The fact that Iran has become the arbiter of disputes in this political arena is a defeat for US policy which attempted to solve the transformation from tribalism to modernism by the replacing our vision of a modern state.

Sent by J. R. Boulder, CO | 2:33 PM | 3-31-2008

And then what? When will these thugs and assassins revolt again and kill our innocent people and their freedom as though what they had done is not enough? The question which bothers me greatly is that, did the Bush Administration know about the Mehdi Army and Muqtda before the war started or not? If they know and chose him to replace the Butcher, this is very bad. If they didn't know about him, then this is much worse. Let the world know that America can not leave Iraq without cleaning the filth of Al-Sadir. They are responsible for the destruction of Iraq, and they have to fix what they spoiled. The Sha'at are undeniably ungrateful.Meanwhile, Bush senior was not as stupid as I thought he was.

Sent by Yousef Mahboob | 2:34 PM | 3-31-2008

Ultimately, will Iraq need to be partitioned into some form of 3 different autonomous 'tribal' zones? (Sunni, Shiite, + Kurd)....Ann idea I heard floated quite a bit awhile back, but haven't been hearing much lately........dc

Sent by David Cohen | 2:40 PM | 3-31-2008

To Yousef Mahboob: ( What's your real name? )
You need to do some traveling and learn about other cultures. America is very young culture, still in the learning stage. If we have listened to europe and international opinion before charging like the new fat bully kid on the block, we would not be in this mess.

Sent by bill | 2:49 PM | 3-31-2008

I see this latest clash as further proof that we are long over due for leaving Iraq. Without US air strikes etc., Iraqi forces would have been driven out. Everytime we use air power or our troops, we lose hearts and minds. Bush lied when he said our objectie was to destroy weapons of mass destruction and Saddam. There were no such weapons an Saddam is dead, what now?

Sent by Robert Lee | 3:02 PM | 3-31-2008

To Bill: Why are fighting with me? All I said is that Bush Senior was not a stupid man. I gave my real full name; what do you have to do with it? Then you just admitted that you are ignorant in the learning process, so who needs some traveling you or I?

Sent by Yousif | 3:21 PM | 3-31-2008

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