THE BATTLE FOR BASRA TIMELINE: Footsteps to U.S. War in Iran?
|by Sarah Meyer|
"A wealth of resources on the Basra conflict by indefatigable researcher Sarah Meyer." Energy Bulletin
The War for oil in Basra appears to be metastasizing into Cheney’s U.S. War on Iran.
Before the Battle for Basra
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was making his third vice presidential trip to Iraq, where 160,000 American troops are deployed and the U.S. death toll is nearing 4,000.
One might ask if the bloodshed in Basra was precipitated by the U.S. Vice president Dick Cheney's ‘surprise’ visit to Iraq on 17 March - nine days prior to the uprising. Another Iraq war-lover, Sen. John McCain (see below), accompanied Cheney. If one watches U.S. visits by U.S. government luminaries, there is always an aftermath related to these visits. It is thus hard to believe that puppet Prime Minister al-Maliki was acting on his own.
The U.S. is notrious for meddling. Tom Englehardt has an excellent essay (03.04.08) on meddling. Tom writes: " A range of other countries, all with a natural bent for "interference" or "meddling," must regularly be warned or threatened. After all, what needs to be prevented, according to a typical formulation of their President, is "foreign interference in the internal affairs of Iraq. / None of this advice do they apply to themselves for reasons far too obvious to explain."
Iraqi’s don’t like Mr. Cheney much more than the rest of the world. The day of arrival, a suicide bomber caused the death of 43 people in a Karbala mosque. The U.S. Embassy and military issued a joint statement blaming the so-called “al Qaeda” in Iraq for the Karbala attack. The U.S., never honest about casualty numbers either in Iraq or the U.S., put the figure at 40, with 65 wounded.
In January 2008, ORB reported over 1.2 million Iraqi deaths “as a result of the conflict [occupation] which started in 2003.”
4,000 U.S. soldiers had died for the same reason by 24 March 2008. Cheney ( see Video here) “reminded the public that U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan volunteered for duty.”
For Cheney's infamous "SO" remark, see You Tube here
The following roundup is an attempt to make sense of the battle for Basra. This is not easy for anyone, as reporters are a discouraged species in Iraq. The U.S. bombed al-jazeera offices in Baghdad. The U.S. removed many reporters in the early days of the occupation. Those who remained were ‘embeds’ with distorted reports being the only choice for getting news to the world . Later on, death squads – including, allegedly, U.S. death squads, murdered reporters and photographers.
Cheney, in his foreign visits, is always two jumps ahead of everyone. In the 12 days of confrontation, the War for Basra has metastasized into Cheney’s War for Iran. He will manipulate Basra for his ‘Bomb Bomb Iran’ campaign.
Background: The Battle For Basra & Iraq’s Oil
“With over 80 percent of the country’s known oil reserves, Basra holds the key to Iraq’s economy. Without its revenues the central government in Baghdad would collapse. The struggle for power in Basra is central to the larger battle for control in the new Shiite dominated Iraq. This is a report from Basra by independent filmmaker Rick Rowley of Big Noise films.” (06.12.07. Democracy Now)
FACTBOX: Iraqi oil facilities in and around Basra
See Iraq Oil: The Vultures are Waiting (updated)
26 March 2008
Basra showdown: Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki's ultimatum to militias
26.03.08timesonline. . Nouri al-Maliki, the Shia Prime Minister who has been accused of kowtowing to the powerful militias, gave armed groups in Basra 72 hours to lay down their arms or be branded outlaws. The sound of mortars, rockets and gunfire echoed across areas where almost 30,000 Government soldiers and police were battling to oust armed groups, mainly members of al-Mahdi Army, and impose order after years of gang rule.
27 March 2008
Sadr followers march to demand downfall of Maliki
27.03.08. Reuters. Thousands of supporters of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr marched in Baghdad on Thursday to protest against a three-day-old crackdown against his followers and call for the downfall of the U.S.-backed government. ... Saboteurs blew up one of Iraq's two main oil export pipelines from Basra, cutting off a third of the exports from the city which provides 80 percent of the government's revenue. U.S. crude oil prices rose more than $1 to around $107 a barrel after the blast. ... Clashes have spread in the past two days to the southern cities of Kut, Hilla, Diwaniya, Amara and Kerbala, as well as several Shi'ite neighborhoods of Baghdad. .. An Interior Ministry source said 51 people died and more than 200 were wounded in the first two days of the Basra fighting. ... "The Iraqi forces are not letting us use ambulances to carry the wounded out of Sadr city. Last night they fired on an ambulance and killed a wounded person and someone accompanying him," he said. "Many of the wounded are women and children."
The butterfly effect:
It is said that when a butterfly flaps its wings in one country the effects can be felt far and wide. “The phrase refers to the idea that a butterfly's wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that ultimately cause a tornado to appear (or prevent a tornado from appearing).”
Thousands in Baghdad Protest Basra Assault
27.03.08. J. Glanz, G. Bowley, NY Times / Truthout. In direct confrontation with the American-backed government in Iraq, thousands of supporters of the powerful Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia took to the streets of Baghdad on Thursday to protest the Iraqi Army's assault on the southern port city of Basra, as intense fighting continued there for a third day.
(See also UPDATES at Iraq: Green Zone Timeline)
Explosion_ Boosts Oil_ Over $107
28.04.08. Bloomberg. Crude oil rose above $107 a barrel in New York after a pipeline explosion in southern Iraq cut supplies to the country’s main export terminal.
Al-Maliki declares war on Muqtada al-Sadr
Iraqi leader threatens fight 'to the end'
27.03.08. McClatchy. As gun battles raged in the southern port city of Basra, parts of Baghdad and neighboring provinces, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki in effect declared war on Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army, saying he'd fight the militia "to the end" and never negotiate.
Bush signals summer withdrawal of Iraq troops unlikely
27.03.08. Ewen MacAskill, Guardian.
Bush calls Iraqi crackdown in Basra a 'positive moment'
27.03.08. AFP. President George W. Bush called the fighting in Basra a "positive moment" for the development of Iraqi security forces and proof the Baghdad government could defend itself.
Spinning the Bloodshed in Basra
27.03.08. Dan Froomkin, Washington Post. As fighting rages in Basra, the White House is unleashing a forceful spin campaign to frame the Iraqi government's offensive there as a positive outcome of the U.S. troop surge and a symbol of better days to come.
Bush: Iraq is returning to normal
27.03.08. McClatchy. President Bush, saying that "normalcy is returning back to Iraq," argued Thursday that last year's U.S. troop "surge" has improved Iraq's security to the point where political and economic progress are blossoming as well.
... but mixed messages? If things are so ‘normal’ in Iraq, why can’t the troops leave? VP Cheney said, on 17 March, that it is very important" that we not quit before the job is done."
The U.S. has NEVER defined what, exactly, this fine phrase, "job done" means. Rather, it gives the same old sweetened dummies (pacifiers) – ‘democracy, liberty, security (for WHAT?), etc.. But it is quite obvious that OIL is the bedrock – first to control Iraqi oil through forcing an agreement in the ‘Iraqi’ parliament, and then to make sure, that the oil STAYS under corporate control with the support of U.S. troops in their permanent bases.
and Reality: The Dead in Iraq
Thursday: 225 Iraqis, 1 US Soldier, 3 US Contractors Killed; 538 Iraqis Wounded
27.03.08. anti-war.com. Although the fighting continues in Basra, followers of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Baghdad instead took to the streets in mostly peaceful protests. The cleric himself has asked for peace talks, but the prime minister is refusing.
P.S.: First Threat
Iraqi PM Gives Three-Day Deadline For Basra Gunmen To Surrender
27.03.08. rtt news. "Those who were deceived into carrying weapons must deliver themselves within 72 hours and make a written pledge to promise they will not repeat such action," al-Maliki told state television. "Otherwise, they will face the most severe penalties," he continued, but did not elaborate on what those penalties would be. Sadiq al-Rikabi, a chief adviser to al-Maliki, said gunmen who fail to turn over their weapons to police stations in Basra by March 28 would be targeted for arrest.
IRAQ: Guns for money
28.03.98. L A Times / URUKnet. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's hopes of forcing Shiite militiamen to hand in their weapons has fallen flat, so he has extended a disarmament deadline and sweetened the deal by offering money in exchange for guns. A spokesman for the government's Interior Ministry, Abdul Kareem Khalaf, acknowledged today that not a single weapon had been turned in since Maliki ordered the disarmament Wednesday and gave fighters a three-day deadline.
Iraqi police in Basra shed their uniforms, kept their rifles and switched sides
Britain getting confused messages from Washington?
Britain sits on sidelines as Iraq's Basra burns
28.03.08. Reuters. Britain ruled out deploying any troops to the Iraqi city of Basra on Friday, despite days of intense battles on the streets and signs Iraq's forces cannot cope with a growing militant uprising.
British jets fire on Basra militia
Basra crisis leaves British withdrawal in ruins
28.03.08. timesonline. [Just what Bush wants?]
U.S: Encouragement Spin
Bush: Basra crackdown 'a defining moment' in Iraqi history
28.03.08. USA Today. President Bush says the Iraqi government's crackdown on Shiite militants in Basra is "a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq." ... He says the military campaign is a good test for the Iraqi troops, who operating with training and support from U.S. troops based in the war-torn country.
Stalled Assault on Basra Exposes the Iraqi Government's Shaky Authority
28.03.08. Patrick Cockburn, Independent/Truthout. The Iraqi army's offensive against the Shia militia of the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Basra is failing to make significant headway despite a pledge by the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to fight "to the end". Instead of being a show of strength, the government's stalled assault is demonstrating its shaky authority over much of Baghdad and southern Iraq. As the situation spins out of Mr Maliki's control, saboteurs blew up one of the two main oil export pipelines near Basra, cutting by a third crude exports from the oilfields around the city. The international price of oil jumped immediately by $1 a barrel before falling back. In Baghdad, tens of thousands of supporters of Mr Sadr, whose base of support is the Shia poor, marched through the streets shouting slogans demanding that Mr Maliki's government be overthrown. "We demand the downfall of the Maliki government," said one of the marchers, Hussein Abu Ali. "It does not represent the people. It represents Bush and Cheney."
Operation Permanent Presence: The Civil War "Surge" in Iraq
28.03.08. C. Floyd , Empire Burlesque/uruknnet. The current esclation of the Iraqi civil war -- first in Basra and now all across the occupied land -- seems to be a perfect dovetailing of the complementary but not identical strategic needs of the Bush Administration and its client government in Baghdad. The regime of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is hoping to destroy or cripple -- or outlaw -- its principal political rival in the south before elections later this year. The Bush regime -- which is intimately involved in every step of the Basra operations, despite its rote denials -- is trying to keep the war boiling on a high simmer. This is the only option it has left to achieve its primary war aim: a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq.
The Reality of War
The Iraq War Dataset: $506 Billion Spent, 4,002 Dead
Scores killed in four-day Basra fighting
28.03.08. gulf news. At least 120 “enemy fighters” have been killed in the four-day clashes between the military and Shiite militias in Basra, an Iraqi commander said on Friday.
Friday: 1 US Soldier, 163 Iraqis Killed; 214 Iraqis Wounded
29 March 2008
Coalition [sic] Forces Drawn Into Basra Fighting
29.03.08. E. Goode, NYTimes. American war planes shelled targets in Basra late Thursday, joining for the first time an onslaught by Iraqi security forces intended to oust Shiite militias in the southern port city, according to British and American military officials.
Sadr urges support for 'resistance'
29.03.08. Al Jazeera and agencies. In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera in Damascus, al-Sadr called on the Arab League, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and the United Nations to recognise "the Iraqi resistance". "I appeal to these parties to add legitimacy to the resistance and to stand by, not against, the Iraqi people because the Iraqi people need Arabs as much as they need any other person," he said. "Iraq is still under occupation and the United States' popularity is reducing every day and every minute in Iraq."I call, through Al Jazeera, for the departure of the occupying troops from Iraq as soon as possible." Video of interview here
US-trained Iraqi soldiers change sides
Betrayal? Any soldier would do the same were his/her country under attack by occupation-supported troops?
15 Iraqi soldiers surrender to Sadr offices- military spokesman
Police refuse to support Iraqi PM's attacks on Mehdi Army
29.03.08. Patrick Cockburn, Independent. Mr Maliki retreated from his demand that militiamen hand over their weapons by yesterday and extended the deadline to 8 April. This is a tacit admission that the Iraqi army and police have failed to oust the Mehdi Army from any of its strongholds in the capital and in southern Iraq. The Iraqi army has either met stubborn resistance from Mehdi Army fighters or soldiers and police have refused to fight or changed sides.
Is the U.K. getting orders from the U.S. government? British forces set up checkpoint near Basra (30.03.08. REUTERS)
Saturday: 2 US Soldiers, 171 Iraqis Killed, 289 Wounded
30.03.08. anti-war.com. . These casualty figures may include updated numbers from previous days of fighting in the Mahdi Army clashes.
Sadr Offers Deal for Truce as Fighting Persists in Iraq
31.03.08. E. GOODE, NY Times. The substance of the nine-point statement, released by Mr. [al-] Sadr on Sunday afternoon, was hammered out in elaborate negotiations over the past few days with senior Iraqi officials, some of whom traveled to Iran to meet with Mr. Sadr, according to several officials involved in the negotiations. Text of the Sadr cease-fire statement
Sunday: 2 GIs, 144 Iraqis Killed; 59 Iraqis Wounded; Sadr Offers Truce
Iranians help reach Iraq cease-fire
31.03.08. usatoday. Iranian officials helped broker a cease-fire agreement Sunday between Iraq's government and radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, according to Iraqi lawmakers. The deal could help defuse a wave of violence that had threatened recent security progress in Iraq. It also may signal the growing regional influence of Iran, a country the Bush administration accuses of providing support to terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere.
Truce Calms Iraq, Weakens Prime Minister
31.03.08. AP. The confrontation enabled al-Sadr to show that he remains a powerful force capable of challenging the Iraqi government, the Americans and mainstream Shiite parties that have sought for years to marginalize him. And the outcome cast doubt on President Bush's assessment that the Basra battle was "a defining moment" in the history "of a free Iraq."
ANALYSIS-Iraqi crackdown backfires, strengthens Sadrists
31.03.98. Ross Colvin, wiredispatch. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's crackdown on militias in the southern oil port of Basra appears to have backfired, exposing the weakness of his army and strengthening his political foes ahead of elections.
al-Maliki / U.S. Blowback
Thousands of police officers who refused to fight Sadr are given the sack
But U.S. spin spots 'success.'
Gates says Iraqi army appears to have performed well
Media Mimics U.S. govn. Spin
Iraqi PM: Basra Operation a 'Success'
Embarrassed US Starts to Disown Basra Operation
01.04.08. Gareth Porter,anti-war.com. s it became clear last week that the Operation Knights Assault in Basra was in serious trouble, the George W. Bush administration began to claim in off-the-record statements to journalists that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had launched the operation without consulting Washington. The effort to disclaim U.S. responsibility for the operation is an indication that it was viewed as a major embarrassment just as top commander Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker are about to testify before Congress. Behind this furious backpedaling is a major Bush administration miscalculation about Moqtada al-Sadr and the Mahdi Army, which the administration believed was no longer capable of a coordinated military operation. It is now apparent that Sadr and the Mahdi Army were holding back because they were still in the process of retraining and reorganization, not because Sadr had given up the military option or had lost control of the Mahdi Army.
How Moqtada al-Sadr Won in Basra
01.04.08. Time. The Iraqi military's offensive in Basra was supposed to demonstrate the power of the central government in Baghdad. Instead it has proven the continuing relevance of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Sadr's militia, the Mahdi Army, stood its ground in several days of heavy fighting with Iraqi soldiers backed up by American and British air power. But perhaps more important than the manner in which the militia fought is the manner in which it stopped fighting. On Sunday Sadr issued a call for members of the Mahdi Army to stop appearing in the streets with their weapons and to cease attacks on government installations. Within a day, the fighting had mostly ceased. It was an ominous answer to a question posed for months by U.S. military observes: Is Sadr still the leader of a unified movement and military force? The answer appears to be yes.
Why al-Maliki attacked Basra
01.04.08. Juan Cole, Salon. The campaign was a predictable fiasco, another in a long line of strategic failures for the sickly and divided Iraqi government, which survives largely because it is propped up by the United States. So why did al-Maliki do it? With no obvious immediate crisis in Basra that called for such desperate measures, what could have motivated the decision to attack?Three main motivations present themselves: control of petroleum smuggling, staying in power (including keeping U.S. troops around to ensure it), and the achievement of a Shiite super-province in the south. A southern super-province would spell a soft partition of the country, benefiting Shiites in the long term while cutting Sunnis out of substantial oil revenues, both licit and illicit. But all of the motivations have to do with something President Bush established as a benchmark in January 2007: upcoming provincial elections.
Al Jazeera.Interview with Raed Jarrar and Patrick Cockburn on Basra, Part I and part 2; 01.04.08.
and book - Muqtada: Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq (Hardcover) by Patrick Cockburn, Scribner April 2008. late update late update
Riding the Tiger(08.04.08). final chapter of P. Cockburn's new book: Muqtada al-Sadr is the most important and surprising figure to emerge in Iraq since the U.S. invasion. He is the Messianic leader of the religious and political movement of the impoverished Shia underclass whose lives were ruined by a quarter of a century of war, repression, and sanctions. / From the moment he unexpectedly appeared in the dying days of Saddam Hussein's regime, U.S. emissaries and Iraqi politicians underestimated him. So far from being the "firebrand cleric" as the Western media often described him, he often proved astute and cautious in leading his followers.
Sadr loyalists warn of end to cease-fire
01.04.08. LA Times. Loyalists of Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr today accused government forces of breaching a cease-fire with continued raids in the southern city of Basra and threatened a "return to conflict." The warning came just a day after Basra and Baghdad felt the full effect of the cease-fire, which Sadr called late Sunday following five days of clashes between Shiite militiamen and Iraqi and U.S. forces.
Inevitable? Just what the U.S. doctor ordered
Brit Troop Withdrawal From Iraq Delayed
01.04.08. Sky news. Defence Secretary Des Browne has told the Commons that he is postponing the drawdown of troops from the base at Basra airfield, which was scheduled to begin this spring. / "It is prudent that we pause any further reductions while the current situation is unfolding," he said. / Mr Browne added that, even before the events of last week, the military advice was that a further reduction in troops, as announced in October, might not be possible.
Monday: 2 US Soldiers, 50 Iraqis Killed; 45 Iraqis Wounded
Iraqi Casualties at Highest Level Since August
01.04.08. Randy Fabi, Reuters/truthout. Fighting between Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite militiamen last month has driven civilian deaths in the country to their highest level in more than six months, government figures showed on Tuesday. A total of 923 civilians were killed in March, up 31 percent from February and the deadliest month since August 2007, according to data compiled by Iraq's interior, defense and health ministries and obtained by Reuters. The figures will be a blow to the Iraqi government and the United States, which have pointed to reduced overall levels of violence in recent months as evidence that a major security offensive has made significant progress.
"Handed Over" to a Government Called Sadr
02.04.08. Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail, Interpress service. Truthout. "Despite the huge media campaign led by U.S. officials and a complicit corporate-controlled media to convince the world of U.S. success in Iraq, emerging facts on the ground show massive failure."
Maliki unveils new Basra plan
02.04.08. UPI/uruknet. The plan outlines increased security initiatives, measures taken against the "exploitation of Basra's resources," the restoration of Baghdad's control over seized government buildings and the conversion of former government palaces into places of tourism.
More Dead Civilians
US occupation forces kill at least three civilians, including a child
Deadly U.S. airstrike amid new Iraq violence
02.04.08. AP / uruknet. House destroyed in Basra; at least 7 die in series of bombings elsewhere. A militant was killed when a U.S. airstrike destroyed a house in the southern city of Basra, the U.S. military said Thursday. Iraqi witnesses and hospital officials said at least three civilians were among the dead. A series of bombings also struck Baghdad on Thursday.
Moqtada and Iran
Iran torpedoes US plans for Iraqi oil
03.04.08. M K Bhadrakumar, asia times. US military commanders routinely blame the Quds for all their woes in Iraq. The fact that the representatives of Da'wa and SIIC secretly traveled to Qom under the very nose of American and British intelligence and sought Quds mediation to broker a deal conveys a huge political message. Iran signals that security considerations rather than politics or religion prevailed. But the politics of the deal are all too apparent. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who was camping in Basra and personally supervising the operations against the Mahdi Army, was not in the loop about the goings-on. As for US President George W Bush, he had just spoken praising Maliki for waging a "historic and decisive" battle against the Mahdi Army, which he said was "a defining moment" in the history of a "free Iraq". Both Maliki and Bush look very foolish. .. But the most important Iranian calculation would be not to provoke the Americans unnecessarily by rubbing in the true import of what happened. .. But to be able to summarily cry halt to cascading violence, and to achieve that precisely in about 48 hours, well, that's an altogether impressive capability in political terms. ... Out of the dramatic developments of the past week, several questions arise, the principal being that the Bush administration's triumphalism over the so-called Iraq "surge" strategy has become irredeemably farcical, and, two, US doublespeak has become badly exposed. What stands out is that Washington promoted the latest round of violence in Basra, whereas Iran cried halt to it. The awesome influence of Tehran has become all too apparent. How does Bush come to terms with it? What has happened is essentially that Iran has frustrated the joint US-British objective of gaining control of Basra, without which the strategy of establishing control over the fabulous oil fields of southern Iraq will not work. Control of Basra is a pre-requisite before American oil majors make their multi-billion investments to kick start large-scale oil production in Iraq. Iraq's Southern Oil Company is headquartered in Basra. Highly strategic installations are concentrated in the region, such as pipeline networks, pumping stations, refineries and loading terminals. The American oil majors will insist on fastening these installations. ... To be sure, Cheney must be furious that Tehran torpedoed the entire US strategy for Big Oil. He has had a hard time shepherding the pro-West Arab regimes in the region, especially Saudi Arabia, up to this point.
Iran And Moqtada Al-Sadr Victors Of Battle Of Basra
03.04.08. Patrice Claude, Le Monde / uruknet. If there remained the slightest doubt as for the major influence Iran has on the affairs of its Iraqi neighbor, the cease-fire concluded on Sunday 30 March, between the radical militia chief, the Shi’ite Moqtada Al-Sadr and three missi dominici representing the Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, also Shi’ite, should have definitively raised it. Because it was in Qom, the headquarters of t! he Iranian religious authority that the negotiations took place. And it is, according to a reliable source, under the supervision of an Iranian soldier, and not a simple one, but that of General Qassem Suleimani, the Commander of the notorious Al-Qods brigades of the Pasdarans, that this cease-fire was finally concluded. The cease-fire between Iraqi Prime Minister and Moqtada al Sadr was brokered by the Iranians. Incidentally, at least two of the three special representatives of Mr. Maliki, namely Hadi Al Amari and Ali Adib, have dual Iraqi-Iranian nationality and they both lived some years of exile in Iran.
WHILE THE US OBSESSED ABOUT IRAN A TOP IRAQI POLICE GENERAL PROVIDED AL SADR's MAHDI ARMY WITH US WEAPONS AND INTELLIGENCE
03.04.08. Wikileaks. A top Iraqi police general agreed to provide Al-Sadr's Mahdi army with American weapons and ammunition and had the iraqi police force kidnap U.S. informers according to a classified June 2006 US intelligence report released today by the transparency group Wikileaks. The police commander in question, general Qais, commander of the Babil province had also "been collecting information on U.S. Army Officials that he meets with and providing dossiers to Mahdi militia." and even providing tip offs of coalition raids.
Iran And Moqtada Al-Sadr Victors Of Battle Of Basra
03.04.08. Patrice Claude, Le Monde / uruknet. If there remained the slightest doubt as for the major influence Iran has on the affairs of its Iraqi neighbor, the cease-fire concluded on Sunday 30 March, between the radical militia chief, the Shi’ite Moqtada Al-Sadr and three missi dominici representing the Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, also Shi’ite, should have definitively raised it. Because it was in Qom, the headquarters of t! he Iranian religious authority that the negotiations took place. And it is, according to a reliable source, under the supervision of an Iranian soldier, and not a simple one, but that of General Qassem Suleimani, the Commander of the notorious Al-Qods brigades of the Pasdarans, that this cease-fire was finally concluded. The cease-fire between Iraqi Prime Minister and Moqtada al Sadr was brokered by the Iranians. Incidentally, at least two of the three special representatives of Mr. Maliki, namely Hadi Al Amari and Ali Adib, have dual Iraqi-Iranian nationality and they both lived some
Iraq: Al-Sadr hints at retaliation if arrest of his followers does not stop
03.04.08. AP / IHT / ICH. The anti-American cleric says in a statement issued Thursday in Najaf that the government has placed his movement in an impossible situation by demanding that followers stop military and political opposition and ignore the arrests and killings of supporters. He says he is keen to prevent bloodshed but pointedly offers a reminder that his followers rose in the past against the "oppressors," referring to U.S. forces and last week's clashes against government forces in Basra.
Al-Sadr Stronghold Brims With Confidence
03.04.08/ AP / ICH. Black banners announcing the deaths of Mahdi Army fighters plaster the streets. Scores of Shiite militiamen gather at the funeral of a fallen comrade as a U.S. helicopter gunship hovers above.
Al-Sadr calls for million-Iraqi rally against U.S occupation
03.04.08. MSNBC. The time has come to express your rejections and raise your voices loud against the unjust occupier and enemy of nations and humanity, and against the horrible massacres committed by the occupier against our honorable people," it said.
More Than 1,000 in Iraq’s Forces Quit Basra Fight
04.04.08. Farrell / Glanz, NY Times. More than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and policemen either refused to fight or simply abandoned their posts during the inconclusive assault against Shiite militias in Basra last week, a senior Iraqi government official said Thursday. Iraqi military officials said the group included dozens of officers, including at least two senior field commanders in the battle. The desertions in the heat of a major battle cast fresh doubt on the effectiveness of the American-trained Iraqi security forces. The White House has conditioned further withdrawals of American troops on the readiness of the Iraqi military and police.
In backing the Basra assault, the US has only helped [al-] Sadr
04.04.08. Jonathan Steele, Guardian. Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki - who ordered the assault and put his prestige on the line by supervising it in person - has emerged with his authority severely weakened. His army and police took a battering and failed to capture any ground, with several commanders and units going over to the Sadrist militias they were meant to be defeating. And the Bush administration's effort to portray Iraq as a place that is gradually calming down thanks to the "surge" of an extra 30,000 US troops looks far less convincing to an increasingly sceptical US public. ... / Now the [UK] government feels it has to show solidarity with Maliki and Bush by delaying another troop reduction, even though only a limited number were needed last week. British forces are held hostage to save the face of politicians once again. ... / Much will depend on whether Maliki fulfils the promises he made. Otherwise fighting may resume, this time with Sadr taking the initiative. ... / President Bush described last week's fighting as a "positive moment in the development of a sovereign nation that is willing to take on elements that believe they are beyond the law". In reality, it amounted to US support for the promotion of a Shia civil war. There are depressing similarities with US policy in Palestine, where the US is arming and financing Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement against Hamas instead of working for Palestinian unity. ... / In fact, Sadr's real sin in Washington's eyes is that, of all the Shia movements, his is the one that has most consistently opposed the US occupation and called for a timetable for US troops to leave Iraq. ... / it is hard to believe that the Iraqi army could have undertaken such a major offensive without American cooperation, since they needed American, and British, surveillance and air support.. The most likely explanation is that the Americans approved the assault, confidently expecting it would succeed within a few days. The hardline US vice-president, Dick Cheney, was in Baghdad two weeks earlier and may well have urged Maliki to go ahead. They hoped for a triumph to boast about in Congress. Now they must explain a disaster. ... / Instead of using Sadr's original ceasefire constructively to engage him in political dialogue, American officials joined Maliki in trying to break Sadr's movement. The lesson of the past few days must be that this policy is doomed. Sadr is a major player who cannot be marginalised or defeated. He has widespread popular support, not just because of his socially conservative Islamist message, but because of his nationalist credentials. These have been strengthened by last week's failed assault. It should not be repeated. [NB: most of the comments to Mr. Jenkin's article are appalling in that they fail to acknowledge that it is reasonable for Iraqis to want the occupation forces out of Iraq as well as wanting to control their own Iraqi oil. ]
"one comment" on Jonathan Steele's article:
"Unbelievable! Judging by the majority of the posts I have read on hear, you people have absolutely no idea of what is really going on in Iraq..Where do you get your information? Be seekers of truth..I was unaware of all the coo-coo-nuts lefties you have there. Completely detatched from reality. I am a USA soldier who has served 2 tours in Iraq. What is happening in Basra is long over due. Maliki is winning down there, Sadr is losing. The people down here are happy to see Sadr's thugs thrown out of Basra. You people who criticize our efforts in Iraq have no idea of all the good that is happening down here. Most people here have deep respect for American soldiers. They know that we are here to help. They are tired of all the criminal elements on both sides of the Sunni-Shia devide. While Sadr is a lacky for Iran. Most Shia down here are Arabs NOT Persians, They want a United Iraq, and want Iran to butt out of there affairs. You people who think differently, at least have the decentcy to be embarrassed for your lack of undersanding of the situation...Grow up!"
Another earlier (30.03.08) comment: question posed by al-jazeera: "Should Arab states support Iraqi resistance "?
Who won the Battle of Basra; Pepe Escobar. With transcript.
Voices from a tunnel
Maliki warns crackdown on Shiite militias will continue
04.04.08. AFP / daily star / ICH. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Thursday said he planned to launch more crackdowns on militiamen as hard-line Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for a massive anti-US protest next week.
Snow: The ‘Bad Guys Backed Down’ In Basra ‘Because They Were Getting Crushed’»
04.04.08/ thinkprogress. Hosting Bill O’Reilly’s Radio Factor today, Tony Snow [audio] accused Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of wanting the U.S. “to lose” in Iraq after she warned Gen. David Petraeus that she didn’t “want to hear any glorification of what happened in Basra.” In fact, last week’s fighting may have actually emboldened Sadr’s hand. Reuters explained, “Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s crackdown on militias in the southern oil port of Basra appears to have backfired, exposing the weakness of his army and strengthening his political foes ahead of elections.” Experts agree:
Iraq's Maliki breaks off deadly offensive
04.04.08. SANA ABDALLAH, middle east times / ICH. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has broken off a nationwide military offensive against armed militiamen that left hundreds of people dead in fierce fighting after serious cracks appeared in the ranks of his freshly-trained government forces with as many as 1,000 desertions. In a statement released by his office on Friday, Maliki said that "all raids and search operations will be stopped in all areas [to] give a chance to those who wish to lay down their arms." .. / Maliki's decision to suspend the operation, in which no timeframe was specified, came just a day after he vowed to pursue more raids around the country against what he called "criminal gangs holding people and families hostage." / Analysts say the order to freeze the offensive was due to a misconception that his thousands of government troops would achieve swift success if contained within the southern province.
Coalition UAVs and airpower take leading role in Basra battle
04.04.08. NB: An article full of "according to a coalition spokesman." Surveillance as bad in Iraq as it is in the USA.
U.S. helicopter strikes militants in Iraq's Basra
04.04.08. Reuters. Eyewitnesses said there were casualties at the scene, where several houses were damaged.
A Shock / Horror for Cheney?
Israel's Tehran connection
04.04.08. Richard Silverstein, Guardian. Last month the Swiss foreign minister visited Iran and, together with President Ahmadinejad, attended the signing (24.03.08) of a multi-billion euro contract for Iran to supply Switzerland with large amounts of natural gas over the next 25 years.
More worrisome for us all is the present Israeli WMD exercise being held this week. Nasty things tend to happen during ‘exercises.’ “We have no secret plans”, said Olmert.
UN says 700 killed in Iraq Shi'ite clashes
04.04.08. news.com. "That could increase as facts and the numbers become more clear."
Friday: 51 Iraqis Killed, 37 Wounded
04.04.08. anti-war. Casualties reported in US helicopter assault on district in al-Basrah Friday. In a dispatch posted at 10:05pm Baghdad time Friday night, the Association of Muslim Scholars of Iraq (AMSI) reported that US helicopter gun ships opened fire on people in al-Basrah on Friday. /The AMSI reported a military spokesman for the British occupation forces in al-Basrah as saying that a US helicopter opened fire on what he dubbed "extremists" in the city in response to a request issued by the US-installed Iraqi regime. / The attack took place in the al-Hayyaniyah district of al-Basrah, an area that was the scene of fighting between the anti-occupation Jaysh al-Mahdi militia and US-backed government forces last week.
Casualties reported in US helicopter assault on district in al-Basrah Friday
04.04.08. Iraqi Resistance Report/uruknet. The Association of Muslim Scholars of Iraq (AMSI) reported that US helicopter gun ships opened fire on people in al-Basrah on Friday. The AMSI reported a military spokesman for the British occupation forces in al-Basrah as saying that a US helicopter opened fire on what he dubbed "extremists" in the city in response to a request issued by the US-installed Iraqi regime. / The attack took place in the al-Hayyaniyah district of al-Basrah, an area that was the scene of fighting between the anti-occupation Jaysh al-Mahdi militia and US-backed government forces last week. Eyewitnesses said that there had been casualties in the attack that damaged a number of houses.
Anti US demonstration in Baghdad
05.04.08. presstv.ir. Thousands of people in Baghdad have staged protests against raids on Sadr City, calling for the withdrawal of the US forces from the city.
Officials confirm Iran's role in truce
05.04.08. wiredispatch. Iran's Shiite government helped end the clashes between Iraqi government troops and al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia for the sake of Shiite unity, said a senior Iranian official who deals with Iraq.
Officials confirm Iran's role in truce
05.04.08. wiredispatch. Iran's Shiite government helped end the clashes between Iraqi government troops and al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia for the sake of Shiite unity, said a senior Iranian official who deals with Iraq.
Baghdad neighborhoods in need of ‘more military raids’, warns Maliki
05.04.08. Mohammed Hammeed, Azzaman/uruknet. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has warned that he intends to order new military attacks on certain neighborhoods in Baghdad. / The so-called U.S. surge in which tens of thousands of troops were dispatched to pacify Baghdad more than a year ago was thought to have succeeded. / The remarks have sent tremors of fear across the Iraqi capital, home to more than six million people as many of them thought they could finally have some faith in U.S. and Iraqi politicians’ statements that they had the city under control.
Al-Sadr militia prep for U.S., Iraqi fighting
05.04.08. Washington Times/legitgov. Militiamen loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are positioning explosives to defend the major routes into Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood in anticipation of a major battle with U.S. and Iraqi government forces, residents said yesterday.
Anti US demonstration in Baghdad
05.04.08. presstv.ir. On Thursday, hundreds of US forces raided a housing complex in Sadr City and expelled fifty families from their houses, announcing that they intend to install a temporary military base there.
Al-Sadr militia prep for U.S., Iraqi fighting
05.04.08. Washington Times. Militiamen loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are positioning explosives to defend the major routes into Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood in anticipation of a major battle with U.S. and Iraqi government forces, residents said yesterday.
'5 civilians killed in Basra blitz'
05.04.08. presstv.ir. Five civilians have been killed in an air strike which destroyed their house in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, local residents say. / "Those people who were killed were a displaced family from Baghdad. There was no fighting here, no Mahdi Army checkpoints, the people who were killed were very poor people. Warplanes came and hit their house," he said.
Saturday: 37 Iraqis Killed, 33 Wounded
Saturday: 37 Iraqis Killed, 33 Wounded
05.04.08 (updated) anti-war. No Coalition troops were reported killed, but U.S. troops in Baghdad are continuing their campaign to end Green Zone rocket attacks, which escalated after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered a "security crackdown" in Basra.
Tomgram: Ira Chernus, The General and the Trap
06.04.08. They came, they saw, they… deserted. / That, in short form, is the story of the Iraqi government "offensive" in Basra (and Baghdad). It took a few days, but the headlines on stories out of Iraq ("Can Iraq's Soldiers Fight?") are now telling a grim tale and the information in them is worse yet. … / In other words, after years of intensive training by American advisors and an investment of $22 billion dollars, U.S. military spokesmen are once again left trying to put the best face on a strategic disaster (from which they were rescued thanks to negotiations between Muqtada al-Sadr and advisors to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, brokered in Iran by General Qassem Suleimani, a man on the U.S. Treasury Department's terrorist watch list). Think irony. "From what we understand," goes the lame American explanation, "the bulk of these [deserters] were from fairly fresh troops who had only just gotten out of basic training and were probably pushed into the fight too soon."
Iraq calls for disbanding militias
06.04.08. al jazeera. Iraqi leaders [sic] have called on all political parties to disband their militias before provincial elections due to be held by October. / The political council of national security, which includes the president, [puppet] prime minister and the heads of parliament's political blocs, made the call in a statement late on Saturday. / The 15-point statement called on all parties "to immediately disband their militias and hand over their weapons to the government ... as a condition for their participation in the political process and elections". .. / al-Sadr supporters have accused al-Maliki of attempting to crush them ahead of the provincial elections in which they are expected to make big gains at the expense of the prime minister's Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council.
UK Troops in Basra
British soldiers back in Basra as hundreds of Iraqi troops desert
06.04.08. Kim Sengupta, Independent. British troops have returned to Basra, in a major change of policy, six months after withdrawing from the city because their presence was said to be provoking violence from the militias.
McCain said that Iraqi forces performed 'pretty well' in Basra despite the "mixed" results [sic] of the battle. [McCain] defended Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government as increasingly effective [sic] … "Now, obviously, the results were mixed," … "Obviously, there were problems and Maliki in my view should have waited until we had concluded the battle of Mosul," … "Overall, the Iraqi military performed pretty well. ... eight or nine months ago, it would have been unthinkable." ..
Flather, flather …
In another article, McCain is misinformed. I don’t think [al-] Sadr [sic] would have declared the ceasefire … “
McCain's "War On Terror" Remix
John McCain's chart-topping single "Bomb Iran"
The corporate media wades in to Basra
Chief CBS correspondent, Lara Logan"> parrots U.S. govn. spin: "The U.S. is very careful to say that al Qaeda has been defeated but they are not gone, not by any stretch of the imagination. They know that al Qaeda is there. They're waiting for their opportunity to come back. They took advantage of the violence and the fighting amongst the Shiites. That's exactly what they'll do: Be looking for opportunities like that to turn around the security gains that General Petraeus was able to make." There are no ideas from her, nor many facts.
Whenever there is a information hole, the nebulous al Qaida becomes a front runner.
Chandrasekaran has more of a handle on Iraq. He said that the Basra violence shows the degree to which political reconciliation - a key benchmark that the United States is looking for in Iraq - "simply isn't happening. .. what it says to us here in Washington is that efforts at reconciliation are not going as well as the Bush administration would like us to believe." Nancy Yousef, chief Pentagon correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers, also was more informed. She said that the United States is in a precarious position with Maliki: "The U.S. military officials that I've talked to say that they were working with Nouri al-Maliki to craft a long-term, thoughtful plan" to deal with the security issues in Basra. It appears that what the U.S. didn't want was what happened, which was a very sudden, ill-planned attack that potentially put the gains of the surge in jeopardy. She added: "In this case, the U.S. says that it wasn't informed about what the plan was, and then had to rush and get air combat support in place when the Iraqi security forces couldn't handle the fighting." Video.
More media misinformation from the International Herald Tribune:
The "surge" of U.S. forces in Iraq, coupled with an adherence to classic counterinsurgency principles, has gone a long way toward improving [sic] security there.
Mr. Nagle makes a comment on what is needed: “ What we need, even after the Iraq and Afghanistan missions have ended, is a standing advisory corps of about 20,000 troops that can deploy wherever in the world. WE [sic] need to get our allies up to speed .… Mr. Nagle gives four suggestions for the ‘successful shift of the combat load from American forces to the Iraqi and Afghan armies.’ He says: ‘’the success we're finally seeing will falter without a continued U.S. presence.
Mr. Nagle, like the US government, ignores the needs of an occupied country: water, medicine and food. He also shows total unawareness that the US IS NOT WANTED AS AN OCCUPYING FORCE, ANYwhere.
Red Rag to U.S. Bull
Iran to OPEC: Stop oil sales in dollars
06.04.08. Wiredispatch. Iranian President Urges OPEC to Form Joint Bank, Stop Pricing Oil Trades in US Dollars
…. and Petraeus 06 – 07.04
Sarah Baxter and Marie Colvin wrote in The Sunday Times (06.04): “IRANIAN forces were involved in the recent battle for Basra, General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, is expected to tell Congress this week.”
The Telegraph Headline (07.04) reads: “British fear US commander is beating the drum for Iran strikes.” The story continues: “A strong statement from General David Petraeus about Iran's intervention in Iraq could set the stage for a US attack on Iranian military facilities, according to a Whitehall assessment.”
Paul Craig Roberts says that “Petraeus Testimony Next Week Will Signal Iran Attack.” The neocon lacky Petraeus has had his script written for him by Cheney, he wrote. [Spot on!] On 31 March, Mr Roberts wrote The US Congress, the US media, the American people, and the United Nations, are looking the other way as Cheney prepares his attack on Iran in an article for Counterpunch called Iran in the Crosshairs: A Third American War in the Making?
Tomgram: Ira Chernus, The General and the Trap
06.04.08. Mr. Chernus writes: “This week, with surge commander General David Petraeus back from Baghdad's ever redder, ever more dangerous "Green Zone," here are a few realities to keep in mind as he testifies before Congress:
• 1. The situation in Iraq is getting worse:
• 2. The Bush administration has no learning curve.
• 3. The "success" of the surge was always an expensive illusion for which payment will someday come due.
• A second hidden surge, not likely to be discussed in the hearings this week, is now under way.
• 5. A reasonably undertaken but speedy total withdrawal from Iraq is the only way out of this morass.”
Now Mr. Chernus’ analysis certainly appears to be more realistic than that of Mr. Nagle, or indeed any other pro-Iraq-war person. Indeed, U.S. realism has never been on the menu.
Iran waves the red flag some more: Iran to OPEC: Stop Oil Sales in Dollars
(see PNAC: Rebuilding America's Defenses - A Biopsy on Imperialism; Part II: "Special Interests" - The Persian Gulf (partially updated to 03.03.08)
Oil in Iran
A US attack on Iran is precisely what Mr. Cheney wants. Petraeus and Bush are both Cheney puppets.
3 U.S. soldiers killed in Baghdad attacks
06.04.08. MSNBC, Rockets and mortars slammed into the U.S.-protected Green Zone and a military base elsewhere in Baghdad on Sunday, killing three American soldiers and wounding 31 Iraqis, an official said.
20 killed in clashes in Sadr City, Iraq
06.04.08. S. Lekic, AP. Iraqi troops backed by U.S. forces battled Shiite fighters in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood in clashes that killed 20 people and wounded more than 50 despite a cease-fire between the government and the militia, officials said Sunday.
22 killed in Sadr City clashes
06.04.08. Wiredispatch. Iraqi troops backed by U.S. forces battled Shiite fighters in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood in clashes that killed 22 people and wounded dozens despite a cease-fire between the government and the militia, officials said Sunday.
US air strike kills nine in Baghdad's Sadr City
06.04.08. Wiredispatch. The air strike killed "nine criminals [sic] in Sadr City at around 8:00 am (0500 GMT)," the military said without providing further details.
Sunday: 5 US Soldiers, 81 Iraqis Killed; 31 US Soldiers, 126 Iraqis Wounded
U.S. Troops in Iraq: the Iraqis “stood up”, but the U.S. doesn’t “stand down.”
George Bush rules out further Iraq troop cuts
07.04.08. Tim Shipman, Telegraph. President George W. Bush will signal next week that he will pull no more troops out of Iraq while he is president, once his troop surge ends in the summer.
Sadr City assault strains cease-fire
07.04.08. CS Monitor. A week after a truce calmed clashes between Moqtada al-Sadr's militia and Iraqi forces, fighting resumed in his Baghdad stronghold Sunday.
Monday: 5 US Soldiers, 51 Iraqis Killed; 143 Iraqis Wounded
07.04.08. anti-war. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki set aside any pretense of democracy by ordering the Mahdi army to disband or face banishment in upcoming elections. At least 51 Iraqis were killed and 143 more were wounded today. / Also, five more American soldiers were killed. / One American soldier was killed by an IED during a routine road clearing operation in Baghdad yesterday. A second soldier died in a previously reported attack in Diyala province. Another soldier had died in that attack and four soldiers were wounded as well. Today, two American soldiers were killed in Baghdad in a rocket-propelled grenade attack, while a third U.S. soldier was killed in an IED explosion.
I fail to understand how a war in Iran is going to help America control Iran’s oil. The occupation in Iraq has not given the U.S. control of Basra or any of the other Iraqi oil fields; nor has the war in Afghanistan given the U.S. control over her resources.
But Petraeus will play the devil’s apprentice in Congress on 8 April 2008. Read a story as good as John le Carre, US/IRAQ: Petraeus Testimony to Defend False "Proxy War" Line (07.04.08) by Gareth Porter, IPS. A key objective of the Congressional testimony by Gen. David Petraeus this week will be to defend the George W. Bush administration's strategic political line that it is fighting an Iranian "proxy war" in Iraq. Based on preliminary indications of his spin on the surprisingly effective armed resistance to the joint U.S.-Iraqi "Operation Knights Assault" in Basra, Petraeus will testify that it was caused by Iran through a group of rogue militiamen who had split off from Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and came under Iranian control. / But the U.S. military's contention that "rogue elements" have been carrying out the resistance to coalition forces was refuted by Sadr himself in an interview with al-Jazeera aired Mar. 29 (see above) in which he called for the release from U.S. detention of the individual previously identified by Petraeus as the head of the alleged breakaway faction. / The idea of Iranian-backed "rogue" Shiite militia groups undermining Sadr's efforts to pursue a more moderate course was introduced by the U.S. military command in early 2007. These alleged Iranian proxies were called "Special Groups" -- a term that came not from Iran or the Shiites themselves but from the Bush administration.
Unfortunately, the U.S. saga since 9/11 is not a novel. The American footsteps are a reality the whole world must suffer.
New blow to British troops as Iraq pulls commanders out of Basra
16.04.08. times on line/legitgov. The top two Iraqi commanders in Basra, the men the British military had placed their confidence in when handing back control of the city last December, have been removed from their positions and recalled to Baghdad by the Government.
OTHER RELATED ARTICLES ON BASRA / IRAQIRAQ / IRAN
Iraq: Green Zone Timeline (Updated)
PNAC: Rebuilding America's Defenses - A Biopsy on Imperialism; Part II: "Special Interests" - The Persian Gulf (partially updated to 03.03.08)
Security Company Death Squads Timeline (25.09.07)
IRAQ: WHAT DOES ‘JOB DONE’ MEAN? (19.10.06)
US/UK BASES IN IRAQ, Part II. The South : Falcon-Al-Sarq, Tallil, Shaibah
Basra Shadowlands (19.10.05)
Other articles on Iraq can be found on the sidebar to Index Research.
Sarah Meyer is a researcher living in the UK.
The url to THE BATTLE FOR BASRA TIMELINE: Footsteps to U.S. War in Iran? is http://indexresearch.blogspot.com/2008/04/battle-for-basra-timeline-footsteps-to.html
Shorter url: http://tinyurl.com/3h9d2k
The BRussels Tribunal url is http://www.brusselstribunal.org/Meyer/Basra.htm
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Tags : Iraq, Basra, US Bases, Politics, Dick Cheney, Moqtada al-Sadr, al-Maliki, Iran, McCain, Petraeus, Index Research