Using that famous neologism of Warren G. Harding, President Bush has declared that "normalcy" has returned to Iraq. Indeed, he is right. The recent period of low conflict and violence, claimed to be due to the surge by many, has now reverted to the more "normal" pattern of greater conflict and violence that we have seen over the last five years. The question arises: why on earth is the US supporting this attack by the al-Maliki government on the followers of Moqtada al-Sadr, whose long-in-place truce has been credited by most with being a major factor in the lowered level of violence?
Juan Cole claims it is that ragamuffin madman Cheney again, whispering in al-Maliki's ear that since the Iraqis have agreed to have serious provincial eletions this fall so that the Sunnis of violent Diyala Province can get rid of their Shi'i government, al-Maliki should take the Sadrists down in Basra so that they do not take over the government there, Iraq's second largest city, and its main export point for oil. Control of oil revenues are clearly a key in this. Of course the part of this that is a big lie has been the claim that the Sadrists are allies of Iran rather than al-Maliki and his ally, al-Hakim. In fact, it is al-Hakim, leader of Iraq's largest party, whose Badr Corps militia has reputedly been the largest recipient of Iranian military aid, and who spent most of the Saddam years in Tehran, whereas al-Sadr, the nationalist, never was in Tehran ever. But, he opposes US troops being in Iraq. So, the US must have lots of troops in Iraq so that we can help defeat those who do not want us to have troops in Iraq, and so that the truly close allies of Iran can remain in control, especially of all the oil revenues from the exports out of Basra.