By Election Day, how many Republican candidates will have come out against the Iraq war or distanced themselves from the administration's policies?After a brief pause the violence in Iraq mushroomed over the weekend.
August 2006 will be remembered as a watershed in the politics of Iraq. It is the month in which a majority of Americans told pollsters that the struggle for Iraq was not connected to the larger war on terrorism. They thus renounced a proposition the administration has pushed relentlessly since it began making the case four years ago to invade Iraq.
That poll finding, from a New York Times-CBS News survey, came to life on the campaign trail when Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.), one of the most articulate supporters of the war, announced last Thursday that he favored a time frame for withdrawing troops.
Iraqi Troops Battle Shiite Militiamen In Southern City
BAGHDAD, Aug. 28 -- With American combat aircraft providing cover, U.S.-backed Iraqi troops battled radical Shiite militiamen Monday in the southern city of Diwaniyah in one of the first major clashes between the two forces. At least 20 Iraqi soldiers and eight civilians were killed, a U.S. military official said, citing initial reports. Seventy people were injured.The coalition forces took on the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr in Diwaniyah and apparently lost.
Also, a suicide bombing in Baghdad killed 15 and injured 35, capping one of the bloodiest 24 hours in Iraq in recent weeks.
The more-than-12-hour battle in Shiite Muslim-dominated Diwaniyah, about 100 miles south of Baghdad, illustrates the growing strength and confidence of the Mahdi Army militia of anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who is increasingly challenging the authority of the Iraqi government and, by extension, the United States.It's no longer a matter of if Cheney's mis-adventure in Iraq is over but how many will die before they will admit it.
Some Iraqi soldiers were captured and beheaded, Iraqi army officials said. As of late Monday, it was unclear how many militiamen had died.
Monday's clashes in Diwaniyah underscored the militias' growing influence. Tensions were already high. Three days earlier, the Iraqi army had arrested three prominent supporters of Sadr, said Abdul Razak al-Nadawi, the head of the cleric's office in Diwaniyah.
"They did this without any warrants," Nadawi said in an interview. "Usually, people are arrested by the police. But it was the Iraqi army who arrested them."
Soon after the arrests, Mahdi Army militiamen flooded the streets, clutching guns and engaging in minor clashes with police, said Kareem al-Musawi, 33, a resident.
"Then all the police withdrew from the streets," he said. "Then the armed men covered every street in the city."
Monday's clashes erupted after Iraqi soldiers, backed by Polish troops, attempted to raid three neighborhoods controlled by the Mahdi Army. The fighting began after midnight as explosions and gunfire rattled different parts of the city, residents said. As many as 26 mosques in Diwaniyah were damaged by Mahdi Army mortar attacks, the Iraqi army said in a statement. Shops, markets and government offices shut down, and frightened residents stayed inside their houses.
By late afternoon, the fighting had subsided. It was soon clear who had won.
"The city is fully controlled by the militia of Jaish al-Mahdi now," said Ahmed Fadhil, 45, a school teacher living in the center of Diwaniyah, using the Arabic term for Sadr's militia. "There are no police or Iraqi army in the streets of the city. I can see only the gunmen of Mahdi Army in the streets."