Starting to look like those who put on the sad face when the details of the surge became known, specifically those on the right side of the aisle (the left always have a frown when it comes to Iraq, hating victory can do that to a person), may be turning that frown into a smile. Sadr’s minions appear to be on the run, for good reason:
Two Shiite militia commanders said Thursday that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has stopped protecting radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Madhi Army under pressure from Washington, while the fighters described themselves as under seige in their Sadr City stronghold.
Their account of an organization now fighting for its very existence could represent a tactical and propaganda feint, but there was mounting evidence the militia is increasingly off balance and has ordered its gunmen to melt back into the population. To avoid capture, commanders report no longer using cell phones and fighters are removing their black uniforms and hiding their weapons during the day.[…]With the Sunni threat in mind, evidence since the meetings in Jordan indicates that al-Maliki has kept his pledge to Bush that there would be no further interference in favor of Shiite militias.
On Wednesday, the prime minister said 400 Mahdi Army fighters had been detained in recent months, although an exact timeframe was not given.
The midlevel Mahdi Army commanders, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the group operates in secret, said at least five top commanders of similar standing were captured or killed in recent months, including one snatched in a night raid from his Sadr City hide-out on Tuesday. They refused to name him.
Two other key officials at the top of the organization were killed in raids last month:
– Sahib al-Amiri, a senior al-Sadr military aide, was slain by American forces in the Shiite holy city of Najaf on Dec. 27. The U.S. military reported his death, calling him a criminal involved roadside bombings. Al-Sadr lives in Najaf.
– The other top commander, identified by a third Mahdi Army commander as Abu al-Sudour, was shot to death in a joint U.S.-Iraqi raid last month as well. He was hunted down in Sadr City.
The third commander, who also spoke anonymously to protect his identity, said U.S.-led raiding parties were now also engaged in massive sweeps, having rounded up what he said was every male old enough to carry a gun in south Baghdad’s Um al-Maalef neighborhood Tuesday night.
Add one more to the list of those captured with this high-level Sadr aide:
U.S. and Iraqi forces arrested a top aide to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Friday in Baghdad, an official in his office said.
Sheik Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji, al-Sadr’s media director in Baghdad, was captured in the eastern neighborhood of Baladiyat, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of security concerns.
The U.S. military said special Iraqi army forces captured a high- level, illegal armed group leader during a raid in eastern Baghdad, but it did not identify the detainee.
So is this Bush’s fault too?
But let me point out a couple things about this article:
The midlevel Mahdi Army commanders, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the group operates in secret, said…
And then this:
The U.N. reported this week that the sectarian fighting killed more than 34,000 Iraqis last year, a figure that was criticized but not disputed Thursday by the Iraqi government.
Um….they criticized it but didn’t dispute it?
Way to go AP! I see your subpar work has continued at a record pace this year.