We have a couple of stories this morning that don't quite pass the smell test.
Shiite Fighters Are Arrested, Iraq Says
Facing intense pressure from the Bush administration to show progress in securing Iraq, senior Iraqi officials announced Wednesday that they had moved against the country’s most powerful Shiite militia, arresting several dozen senior members in the past few weeks.But not everyone agreed.
It was the first time the Shiite government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki had claimed significant action against the militia, the Mahdi Army, one of the most intractable problems facing his administration. The militia’s leader, the cleric Moktada al-Sadr, helped put Mr. Maliki in power, but pressure to crack down on the group has mounted as its killings in the capital have driven a wedge into efforts to keep the country together.
Although the announcement seemed timed to deflect growing scrutiny by an American administration that has grown increasingly frustrated with Mr. Maliki, American officers here offered some support for the government’s claims, saying that at least half a dozen senior militia leaders had been taken into custody in recent weeks.
Still, some American military officials remained skeptical that the effort was more than just a short-term attempt to appease them at a time when American government support for Mr. Maliki appeared to have sunk to an all-time low.I guess another question that must be asked is did they really arrest members of the Mahdi army or just some wannabe thugs and how long will they remain in custody?
“The question is whether it will be sustained,” another American military official said. “This shouldn’t be done to weather some short-term political storm. This has to stick in the long run.”
In a related story Mr. Maliki says give us guns not more American troops.
Maliki Stresses Urgency In Arming Iraqi Forces
The Iraqi government's need for American troops would "dramatically go down" in three to six months if the United States accelerated the process of equipping and arming Iraq's security forces, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Wednesday.I think that the US has not fully equiped the Iraqi Security forces because they simply don't trust them. In many cases they are seen as part of the problem not the solution. Mr Maliki went so far as to blame American policy for many of the deaths.
The head of Iraq's Shiite Muslim-led government defended his country's independence and sovereignty and called on U.S. leaders to show faith in his ability to lead.
Maliki disputed President Bush's remarks broadcast Tuesday that the execution of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein "looked like it was kind of a revenge killing" and took exception to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's Senate testimony last week that Maliki's administration was on "borrowed time."
The prime minister said statements such as Rice's "give morale boosts for the terrorists and push them toward making an extra effort and making them believe they have defeated the American administration," Maliki said. "But I can tell you that they have not defeated the Iraqi government."
In the interview Wednesday, Maliki said many American and Iraqi lives would have been spared if the Iraqi forces had been better equipped.Now I don't think for one minute that Maliki and those in his camp have any desire to see a secular Iraq. They are simply looking for the opportunity to continue the ethnic cleansing of Iraq which is why they want more weapons and less Americans.