Iraqi forces were surprised and nearly overwhelmed by the ferocity of an obscure renegade militia in a weekend battle near the holy city of Najaf and needed far more help from American forces than previously disclosed, American and Iraqi officials said Monday...
...The Iraqis and Americans eventually prevailed in the battle. But the Iraqi security forces’ miscalculations about the group’s strength and intentions raised troubling questions about their ability to recognize and deal with a threat.
The battle also brought into focus the reality that some of the power struggles in Iraq are among Shiites, not just between Shiites and Sunnis. The Soldiers of Heaven is considered to be at least partly or wholly run by Shiites.
Among the troubling questions raised is how hundreds of armed men were able to set up such an elaborate encampment, which Iraqi officials said included tunnels, trenches and a series of blockades, only 10 miles northeast of Najaf. After the fight was over, Iraqi officials said they discovered at least two antiaircraft weapons as well as 40 heavy machine guns.
That really is the question, how the hell was this group allowed to set up such an elaborate defensive position without anybody having any fucking idea what was going on?
The Najaf area, of course, is not an area the "surge" is going to cover. It is, however, an indication that the insurgency can easily spread out from Baghdad during the surge and make shit as bad as possible.
Somebody is going to try to get Sistani again, probably with redoubled efforts. And clearly, the Iraqis have no real capacity to know what the hell is going on in areas they control, or no real desire to do much unless they stumble upon stuff. And even then, they have little ability to out gun anyone.
This is pathetic.
Naturally, before the reflection showing Iraq's army continues to grossly underwhelm the "Decider" stated this blatant falsehood:
Bush was asked in a National Public Radio interview about an Iraqi raid Sunday, backed by U.S. helicopters, on a heavily armed Shiite cult that Iraqi officials said was poised to assassinate the country's Shiite religious leadership. "This fight is an indication of what is taking place, and that is the Iraqis are beginning to take the lead," Bush said. "So my first reaction on this report from the battlefield is that the Iraqis are beginning to show me something."
Somebody get the Shepherd's Crook.