Al-Maliki gives Mahdi Army blunt choice: disarm or face American onslaught
BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraq's prime minister has told Mahdi Army militiamen they must surrender their arms or face an all-out assault by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces, senior Iraqi officials said Wednesday, revealing a pledge Washington wanted to hear as American and Iraqi troops prepared a fresh operation to end the bloody sectarian war gripping Baghdad.Now Al-Maliki knows he has no power to stop or disarm the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr. He also knows full well that his own security forces won't do it and that a few thousand additional troops won't make it possible for the US to defeat the 60,000+ Mahdi Army. This was for US domestic consumption only with a "wink and a nod" to al-Sadr. Yes the "pixie dust" is flying.
The blunt message was particularly significant given that Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi leader, previously had blocked several U.S. attempts to crack down on the military wing of radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, now one of the most powerful players in Iraq.