I note that the president’s travel party to Assad Air base in Anbar Province includes; Gates, Rice, Pace, Fallon, Lute, Hadley. There, he will, of course, see Petraeus and Crocker as well. Anyone else of note? Any AEIers? Sounds like a council of war to me. Nice and isolated, minimal press interference and possibility of operational security planning breach. Well thought out. This will be a good place to get everyone "on board" and to coordinate tactics for the Petraeus/Crocker show to come.
If I were Maliki, I would not want to plan on a long coninuance in office. He has been a great disppointment to the commander guy and "just plain Dick." Rumor has it that Crocker’s on site supervisor (the comely Megan) says that the Badr/ISCI guys are the hope of the future. Since Maliki is the Secretary General of the Dawa Party, that might be inconvenient. If he has a house somewhere he ought to look to its present state of habitability. The Badr Brigades fellows were originally Iraqi Shia zealots who lived in Iran for 20+ years and who fought on the IRANIAN SIDE in the long Iran-Iraq War. That makes their relations with the Iraqis (Shia and Sunni) who fought for Iraq a problem. The Badrists have gained a large and ever growing role in the "Iraqi" (largely Shia) security forces. These guys are being handed (by the British) whatever parts of Basra that the British were in. Why? They are the government forces. They already have a side in the multi-dimensional internal Shia struggle for Basra, but, not to worry. pl