"U.S. troops lifted roadblocks around a militia stronghold in Baghdad yesterday after Iraq’s Prime Minister ordered them out, flexing his political muscle after a week of public friction with Washington ahead of U.S. midterm elections.
Supporters of anti-U.S. Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr celebrated in the streets of Sadr City, bastion of his Mehdi Army. An aide hailed the end of a "barbaric siege," begun to help find a kidnapped U.S. soldier possibly being held by militiamen.
But Iraq’s Sunni Vice-President said the move threatened a lull in sectarian death-squad violence. The once-dominant Sunni minority blames the Mehdi Army for much of the killing, and Washington is pressing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to disband the movement.
"The Commander-in-Chief, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, has ordered the lifting of all barriers and checkpoints to open roads and ease traffic in Sadr City and other districts of Baghdad," a statement from the Prime Minister’s office said." Reuters
This is a watershed. All but the most diehard conspiracy fans will see that al-Maliki’s government is not a puppet of anything but his constituent Shia militia factions and militias.
This signals a new Shia willingness to defy the US occupation that serves to shield their creation of a Shia run rump state of Iraq, a state which will never control the Sunni heartland or th Kurdish homeland but which will maintain irredentist claims there "for another day."
One must wonder what would have happened if the United States had not accepted the order of the sovereign government of Iraq.
The chart is from USCENTCOM and was in the NYT 1 November, 2006