A couple of interesting news bites from Informed Comment:
Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that Iraqi Shiite cleric Abdul Aziz al-Hakim for the first time expressed his opposition to the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, after his meeting with US Secretary of State Condi Rice. He said that the Iraqi government wants US troops to stay, and appreciates their sacrifices for Iraqi liberty, but would like more responsibility given to Iraqi officials and the Iraqi military forces.Robert Dreyfuss calls al-Hakim a mass murderer:
Al-Hayat's sources in Washington say that al-Hakim's discussions with Bush focused on how to strengthen the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, and what to do about young Shiite firebrand Muqtada al-Sadr.
What’s stunning about Bush’s encounter with al-Hakim is that it occurs precisely at the moment when critically important bridges are being built across Iraq’s Sunni-Shiite divide—bridges that al-Hakim is trying to blow up.Voices in Washington have been searching for a "strong man". Maybe they are thinking al-Hakim will prop up al-Maliki and help the US destroy al-Sadr?
If so, it would be the last, ugly mistake for President Bush’s merry band of incompetents, bunglers and war criminals...Yes, but then how do they get their hands on all that oil?
It is too much, perhaps, to expect from the Bush administration, but here’s an idea. Instead of trying to court Hakim and SCIRI to support a continued U.S. occupation of Iraq, the White House ought to acknowledge and heed the growing body of opinion in Iraq that wants the United States out, fast.
NB: h/t Eric Martin for getting me started on this post.