Muqtada al Sadr has been Iraq's kingmaker for the entire occupation, the most powerful man in the country. He has a large, well-trained and well-equipped army, and the decisions to fight him and his soldiers, in terms of utter stupidity, rank right up there with staffing the CPA with Heritage Foundation interns and sending pallets of dollar bills to literally drop over the countryside.
When someone tells you that the "surge" is working, you must walk them through this chain of events:
Attacks on American-led forces using a lethal type of roadside bomb said to be supplied by Iran reached a new high in July, according to the American military.
The devices, known as explosively formed penetrators, were used to carry out 99 attacks last month and accounted for a third of the combat deaths suffered by the American-led forces, according to American military officials.
"July was an all-time high," Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the No. 2 commander in Iraq, said in an interview, referring to strikes with such devices.
Such bombs, which fire a semi-molten copper slug that can penetrate the armor on a Humvee and are among the deadliest weapons used against American forces, are used almost exclusively by Shiite militants.
The "Shiite militants" described by the New York Times were, in fact, members of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. And, as we all saw this past summer, Muqtada’s fighters were really doing a job on American forces—despite the troop increase which began earlier in the year.
That was on August 7th. And remember, this was during a summer throughout which we were bombarded with news of Iranian/Shia efforts to kill Americans and destabilize the Iraqi government.
Then, barely three weeks after the New York Times article ran, 50 Muslim pilgrims were slaughtered in sectarian fighting in Karbala. In response, Muqtada al-Sadr announced that he had
ordered his militia to suspend offensive operations for six months.