And coming: Largest Cache Ever, Found in Ameriya: Thanks to a Tip.
"A tip lead Coalition and Iraqi Units to the western Baghdad neighborhood of Ameriya where they uncovered the largest cache ever found to date:"
And we also learn that the Baqouba Guardians aren't the only game in town: Concerned Citizens: A Step Toward Self-Reliance
Analysis From the Middle Ground
French Officials Visit Iraq
Essentially, this is Sarkozy trying to reverse Chirac's policies. From his perspective, Chirac put France in a difficult situation when it opposed US intervention in Iraq, but, more importantly, when France insisted for the last four years on continuing that opposition and further straining French-US ties. While many saw this as a US failure and insisted that the US should have given in to European pressure, it is the Europeans who have the most to fear from a loss of ties to the US.
Chirac had been attempting to position France as a leader among the European Union nations and create a separate economic and strategic sphere from the US. Multiple problems arose to challenge his plans including French unemployment and economic stagnations as well as the other European nations not being too keen on France being the center of the European universe. Another flag appeared last winter when the Russian's flexed their muscle, cutting off natural gas to the Ukraine, thus, European nations. It became very obvious that, despite the end of the Cold War, Russia was not adverse to making its power in Europe known. The Europeans could do nothing about it except complain mightily.
With France being dependent on Russian and Iranian oil and natural gas, Iraq becomes a pivotal point where Sarkozy believes that they need to become more active to insure Iraq is stabilized. Particularly as Iran continues to meddle there and the US rhetoric is ratcheting up step by step proving the Iranians have been attacking US forces. If this continues, France may well lose its influence in Iran and be totally shut out if the US decides that war is necessary.
Lastly, Sarkozy must realize that the European nations are not strong enough alone against a re-awakened Russian bear, no matter how benign and civilized it may appear now. Last winter proved that. Not that they fear invasion, but they fear being sucked into the Russian sphere via energy resources.
Iran President Ahmedinijad to visit Iran
Of course, he has to put a good face on this situation. He has been denying interference in Iraqi politics via Sadr and other Shi'ite Islamist militias, not to mention potentially providing support for Sunni extremists. On the other hand, Iran has been providing electricity and other trade goods to Iraq so Iraq is an important economic partner in the region. Maybe Maliki will remember that when they are speaking.
Sadr pledges to work with UN if it replaces US, Britain in Iraq
Speaking to The Independent newspaper from his movement's headquarters in Kufa, south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, Sadr said that he would "support the UN if it comes and replaces the American and British occupiers."
"If the UN comes here to truly help the Iraqi people, they will receive our help in their work. I would ask my followers to support the UN as long as it is here to help us rebuild our country.
"They must not just be another face of the American occupation."
This is wishful thinking on Sadr's part. The UN as a foreign force does not work without US support or that of our European allies. No other nations are going to become involved in Iran because it is too volatile an issue even for peace keeping. His hope is to legitimize his claims that he is simply anti-occupation, but the reality is, if the UN was to come in as any sort of force or leader, he would simply be looking at a much weaker force and organization that would allow him and his militia to take full power. That is something that is not going to happen under US control.
He goes on to lambaste Maliki as a puppet of the US. Though he originally supported Maliki as a compromise candidate that Sadr thought would be too weak to interfere with his expansion, he was surprised in January when Maliki agreed to allow the US to take action against the Mahdi army and attempt to dislodge Sadr from his power bases. He says that Maliki's government will not last long. Ostensibly, Sadr sees his support as necessary to the final government power.
To this end, he and his followers in the south have been starting a campaign of assassination against SCIIRI officials. The Mahdi and Badr Brigades in the south have routinely been maneuvering against each other through quiet killings, but Sadr and the Mahdi have picked up the game since the British have begun to withdraw and the central government has been weakened. Sadr is anticipating an early call for new elections and wants to position his block to take advantage of that possibility.
He has also started his rhetoric that his Mahdi army has "defeated" the British in the south. An important contrivance since people tend to gravitate towards the strong man who is "victorious".
The Sidney Morning Herald picks up on this and publishes some side remarks from American officers and one of Petraeus' "think tank" dinging the British for their general handling of the area and failure to take control. Thus, re-enforcing, though accidentally, Sadr's view that he has been "victorious".
MILITARY advisers in the United States have warned that British troops face an "ugly and embarrassing" withdrawal from the southern Iraqi city of Basra.
Stephen Biddle, who sits on the Council on Foreign Relations and is a member of a group that advised the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, told the The Sunday Times in London that coalition forces were no longer in control of the city.
"I regret to say that the Basra experience is set to become a major blunder in terms of military history," Mr Biddle was quoted as saying. "The insurgents are calling the shots … and in a worst-case scenario will chase us out of town."
Other officers were even less kind. Of course, the British are adding additional forces in Afghanistan to supplement ISF/NATO forces during the current uptick in Taliban attacks and activity.
In Iraq, US forces are anticipating the situation and continue to move against Al Qaeda and Mahdi leadership while planning to move US forces into the south as the Brits withdraw while simultaneously strengthening Sunni cooperatives so that they can defend themselves against both AQIZ and the black clad Sadrist ethnic cleansers.