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'Handed Over' to a Government Called Sadr

By Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service

BAGHDAD, Apr 2 (IPS) - Despite the huge media campaign led by U.S. officials and a complicit corporate-controlled media to convince the world of U.S. success in Iraq, emerging facts on the ground show massive failure.

The date March 25 of this year will be remembered as the day of truth through five years of occupation.

"Mehdi army militias controlled all Shia and mixed parts of Baghdad in no time," a Baghdad police colonel, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS. "Iraqi army and police forces as well as Badr and Dawa militias suddenly disappeared from the streets, leaving their armoured vehicles for Mehdi militiamen to drive around in joyful convoys that toured many parts of Baghdad before taking them to their stronghold of Sadr City in the east of Baghdad."

REPORT SAYS PETRAEUS MUST BE QUIZZED BY CONGRESS ON IRAQ WAR CRIMES

HASTINGS ON HUDSON, NY - Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multi-National Force – Iraq must be held accountable for systematic violations of international law by US forces in Iraq when he appears before Congress next week, argues a new war crimes report published today by ConsumersforPeace.org on its website: http://consumersforpeace.org

The report, which was prepared with the review of noted international human rights attorney Karen Parker, recommends the following areas of questioning with respect to Petraeus’ strategy and tactics in Iraq during the so-called “surge”, resulting in Iraqi suffering that is generally unreported:

Increased use of attack helicopters and aerial bombing against individuals and buildings under circumstances where it is virtually impossible to ensure against civilian casualties; and the use of excessively powerful munitions that also cause civilian casualties.

Iranian who brokered Iraqi peace is on U.S. terrorist watch list

By Warren P. Strobel and Leila Fadel, McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — The Iranian general who helped broker an end to nearly a week of fighting between Iraqi government forces and Shiite Muslim militiamen in southern Iraq is an unlikely peacemaker.

Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, who helped U.S.-backed Iraqi leaders negotiate a deal with radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr to stop the fighting in Iraq's largely Shiite south, is named on U.S. Treasury Department and U.N. Security Council watch lists for alleged involvement in terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear and missile technology.

His role as peacemaker, which McClatchy first reported Sunday, underscores Iran's entrenched political power and its alliances in Iraq, according to analysts.

"The Iranians are into a lot of things, and have a lot of influence," said Judith Yaphe, a former CIA analyst who's now at the National Defense University in Washington.

Iranians help reach Iraq cease-fire

By Charles Levinson, USA TODAY

BAGHDAD — Iranian officials helped broker a cease-fire agreement Sunday between Iraq's government and radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, according to Iraqi lawmakers.

The deal could help defuse a wave of violence that had threatened recent security progress in Iraq. It also may signal the growing regional influence of Iran, a country the Bush administration accuses of providing support to terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere.

Al-Sadr ordered his forces off the streets of Iraq on Sunday. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki hailed al-Sadr's action as "a step in the right direction." It was unclear whether the deal would completely end six days of clashes between U.S.-backed Iraqi forces and Shiite militias, including al-Sadr's.

Embarrassed U.S. Starts to Disown Basra Operation

By Gareth Porter, IPS

WASHINGTON, Mar 31 (IPS) - As it became clear last week that the "Operation Knights Assault" in Basra was in serious trouble, the George W. Bush administration began to claim in off-the-record statements to journalists that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had launched the operation without consulting Washington.

The effort to disclaim U.S. responsibility for the operation is an indication that it was viewed as a major embarrassment just as top commander Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker are about to testify before Congress.

IRAQI GOVERNMENT FAILS IN CHALLENGING al SADR MILITIA - "SURGE" EXPOSED AS FAILURE BUT NEW DANGERS RISE

By Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies, UFPJ Talking Points #56

** The Iraqi government's military offensive in Basra was designed to undermine Prime Minister al-Maliki's major Shi'a political rival, Moktada al Sadr, but the offensive appears to have failed, and instead is strengthening Sadr's forces and significantly weakening Bush administration strategy in Iraq.

** The inability of Iraqi government forces to defeat or even halt Sadr's militia in Basra, Baghdad or elsewhere even with massive U.S. military support, and the resulting escalation of overall violence in Iraq, also proves the failure of the so-called "surge."

** This power struggle between Maliki and Sadr is important because it represents Iraq's linchpin fight between supporters and opponents of the U.S. occupation and the government kept in place by the occupation; it is particularly important in Basra because almost all of Iraq's oil these days is exported through Basra.

IRAQ CRISIS THREATENS BUSH-PETRAEUS “SURGE” STRATEGY AS BANKRUPT

By Tom Hayden

Central to the Bush-Petraeus Iraq strategy is to pacify and confuse American public opinion during the 2008 elections, an approach Gen. Petraeus calls "slowing down the American clock" to gain time for the counterinsurgency to continue. This week's events in Basra suggest that US strategy is collapsing amidst its own contradictions.

This is the most important opportunity for critics to question the "surge" since it began last year.

Here is what is happening.

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