March 24, 2008 1642 GMTMembers of Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr‘s Mehdi Army on March 24 moved into Baghdad’s southern al-Ilaam, Shurta, Bayaa and Amil districts and western Washas district, ordering shop owners to close, Reuters reported, citing witnesses. Militia members used burning tires to close down roads in one neighborhood. Witnesses said the Mehdi Army had declared the beginning of a civil disobedience campaign, and an al-Sadr official said the militia is protesting “U.S. raids and the arrests of innocent people.” The campaign does not mean the Mehdi Army cease-fire is over, said al-Sadr‘s parliamentary bloc leader Nassar al-Rubaie, adding that only al-Sadr can end the truce. Sheikh Mahmoud al-Sabihawi of Sadr‘s Amil district office said the campaign will continue until the arrests stop.March 24, 2008 1657 GMTU.S. commander in Iraq Gen. David Petraeus said March 24 he thinks Iran backed the insurgents who carried out March 23 mortar and rocket attacks on Baghdad’s Green Zone, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported. Petraeus said the rockets used were made in and provided by Iran. Those who fired them were trained and funded by Iran’s Quds Force, he added.March 25, 2008 0732 GMT
Heavy fighting broke out March 25 in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, where Iraqi troops have clashed with members of the Mehdi Army militia, Reuters reported, citing a witness. The Iraqi military has launched operations in Basra to “cleanse” the city of armed groups, a military official said.March 25, 2008 1003 GMTIraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr‘s headquarters in An Najaf placed Mehdi Army field commanders on high alert March 25 after Iraqi security forces launched an operation in Basra to contain the ongoing violence between rival militias, The Associated Press reported. The commanders were ordered “to strike the occupiers” and their Iraqi allies, an anonymous militia officer said. The security forces reportedly encountered stiff resistance from Mehdi Army gunmen.March 25, 2008 1210 GMTShiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr threatened a countrywide “civil revolt” if U.S. and Iraqi security forces keep targeting his followers, Reuters reported March 25. In a statement, al-Sadr called on Iraqis to stage sit-ins throughout the country as a first step. If demands are not met then, al-Sadr said the second step would be to “declare civil revolt in Baghdad and all other provinces.” Al-Sadr threatened a third step but said it was too soon to announce what it might be.March 25, 2008 1257 GMTMembers of Muqtada al-Sadr‘s Mehdi Army took control of five districts in the southern Iraqi town of Kut on March 25, Reuters reported. Police sources told Reuters that the militia took over the Jihad, Shuhada, Zahara, Sharqiya and Hawi districts. An eyewitness told Reuters he could hear explosions and shooting and U.S. warplanes were circling overhead. Police Capt. Majid al-Imara said he has asked U.S. forces to help the local authorities with aircraft and vehicles, adding that eight to 10 policemen had been wounded in clashes in Aziziya, a town north of Kut. Police in Samawa, the capital of the southern province of Muthanna, imposed a curfew after Mehdi Army members appeared there. Curfews have also been imposed in Hilla and Kut.March 25, 2008 1353 GMT
A blast was heard and smoke was seen March 25 in Baghdad’s “Green Zone” government and diplomatic compound, Reuters reported. The explosion was suspected to have been caused by rocket or mortar fire.
================March 25, 2008 1517 GMTPeople in southern Lebanon’s major population centers of Nabatieh and Tyr are stockpiling canned food, beans, cereals, cooking oil, rice, dried milk and prescription drugs in anticipation of an impending war with Israel, a Stratfor source reported March 25, citing reports from shop owners and pharmacists. The source also said a building contractor reported that construction in Southern Lebanon has come to an unprecedented halt.
Iran: Lashing al-Sadr back to the party line
March 25, 2008 by E. Cartman
Iraq is deteriorating rapidly.
This has enormous implications for the US presidential race — and therefore the rate of capital gains taxation in the next four years — as well as the price of oil, and to a lesser extent the value of the dollar.
I expect Lebanon to be ground zero of 2008’s long hot summer, but lots of collateral damage will be felt in Iraq.
Remember, Ahmadinejad has Carter’s scalp already. He knows how the US electoral game is played.