Posted by: Lister | April 4, 2008

More than 1000 disobeyed orders

NYTimes:

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 crisis created by the desertions and other problems with the Basra operation was serious enough that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki hastily began funneling some 10,000 recruits from local Shiite tribes into his armed forces. That move has already generated anger among Sunni tribesmen whom Mr. Maliki has been much less eager to recruit despite their cooperation with the government in its fight against Sunni insurgents and criminal gangs.

[…] Even as officials described problems with the planning and performance of the Iraqi forces during the Basra operation, signs emerged Wednesday that tensions with Moktada al-Sadr, the radical cleric who leads the Mahdi Army militia, could flare up again. Mr. Sadr, who asked his followers to stop fighting on Sunday, called Thursday for a million Iraqis to march to the Shiite holy city of Najaf next week to protest what he called the American occupation. He also issued a veiled threat against Mr. Maliki’s forces, whom he accused of violating the terms of an agreement with the Iraqi government to stand down.

The ceasefire was arranged at a meeting in Qom, Iran:

This past weekend we had a powerful demonstration of what dialogue with Iran could accomplish in Iraq. A major escalation of conflict between Iraqi government forces and Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia was halted when Iraqi parliamentarians from the government coalition negotiated an agreement with Sadr. This agreement was negotiated not in Annapolis, but in the Iranian city of Qom. The head of Iran’s Quds force – which the Bush Administration, at the urging of Senator Clinton, has designated as a terrorist organization – helped broker the agreement, McClatchy News reports.

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