U.S. envoy warns of growing power of Iraqi militias

By Ross Colvin

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The U.S. military has succeeded in delivering a crippling blow to al Qaeda in Iraq, but this has only served to highlight “the other big problem” — the power of Shi’ite militias, Washington’s envoy to Iraq said on Thursday.

Ambassador Ryan Crocker said the new U.S. “surge” strategy, which saw 30,000 extra troops sent to Iraq, had significantly reduced sectarian violence in Baghdad, the former al Qaeda stronghold of Anbar province and elsewhere.

“Al Qaeda in Iraq has shown extraordinary persistence but clearly their abilities have been badly damaged. In a sense that puts into highlight the other big problem, which is the militias, particularly JAM,” he told journalists in Baghdad.

JAM is the acronym for the Jaish al-Mehdi, otherwise known as the Mehdi Army, the feared militia force commanded by Moqtada al-Sadr. The cleric ordered a ceasefire in August so that he could reorganize the militia, which has splintered into factions, many of which are believed to be beyond his control.

“We have seen JAM Militant transform into JAM Incorporated. They may not be shooting at us or Iraqi soldiers, but (they are) controlling gas stations, real estate, trade and services,” Crocker said.

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Refuse to fight

The world is very weary of all this and wants to laugh again

By William Blum

09/11/07 “ICH” — — Okay, Bush ain’t gonna get out of Iraq no matter what anyone says or does short of a)impeachment, b)a lobotomy, or c)one of his daughters setting herself afire in the Oval Office as a war protest. A few days ago, upon arriving in Australia, “in a chipper mood”, he was asked by the Deputy Prime Minister about his stopover in Iraq. “We’re kicking ass,” replied the idiot king.[1] Another epigram for his tombstone.

And the Democrats ain’t gonna end the war. Ninety-nine percent of the American people protesting on the same day ain’t gonna do it either, in this democracy. (No, I’m sorry to say that I don’t think the Vietnam protesters ended the war. There were nine years of protest — 1964 to 1973 — before the US military left Vietnam. It’s a stretch to ascribe a cause and effect to that. The United States, after all, had to leave sometime.)

Only those fighting the war can end it. By laying down their arms and refusing to kill anymore, including themselves. Some American soldiers in Iraq have already refused to go on very dangerous combat missions. Iraq Veterans Against the War, last month at their annual meeting, in St. Louis, voted to launch a campaign encouraging American troops to refuse to fight. “Iraq Veterans Against the War decided to make support of war resisters a major part of what we do,” said Garrett Rappenhagen, a former U.S. Army sniper who served in Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005.

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Petraeus for president?

GOP Operative Ed Gillespie ‘hard-wired’ into Petraeus’s shop
by: Matt Stoller
Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 12:41:26 PM EDT

As if this is not obvious already.Another new arrival in the West Wing set up a rapid-response PR unit hard-wired into Petraeus’s shop. Ed Gillespie, the new presidential counselor, organized daily conference calls at 7:45 a.m. and again late in the afternoon between the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the U.S. Embassy and military in Baghdad to map out ways of selling the surge.

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