barbara writes but not really
(barbara note: I'm moving leftyMN's comment from Susan's thread below up here because it adds some important information to that post.)
Not much is clear about what is going on in Iraq because our government and a compliant media are not reporting the true story about what is going on. (barbara note: this is an ongoing problem that we need to resolve!)
What is going on is a civil war for control of the country. There are 3 to 4 players. Two large Shiite factions, a grouping of many Sunni factions, and finally a Kurdish minority in the north.
The USA is inextricably linked to Al Maliki and the current government of Iraq. The main problem with this is that the current government was put in power without the participation of the Sunni minority or the largest Shiite faction (Sadrists) who more or less boycotted the elections. Read the rest.
There are two major Shiite factions. One is the SCIRI led by the Al Hakim family, the other is the Sadrists controlled by Muqtadr al Sadr. Both have their own militia wings.
The mindboggling thing is that Bush/Cheney official policy is obviously anti-Iran. However we are completely allied with Al Maliki who is allied with SCIRI. SCIRI is essentially an Iranian supported group. Al Maliki plays both the USA and Iran to maintain his power.
So last week when American special forces fought with Iraqi army forces in Basra they were also fighting side by side with SCIRI forces (called the Badr corps). In other words America was fighting for the Iranian-backed faction in Iraq.
As usual, the American media needs a leader to demonize. They lost Saddam Hussein. Because Sadr has the look of a wild mullah (note the MSM always describes him as the "radical Shiite leader"), he has become the demon du jour.
Although Sadr is no angel, he represents a more Iraqi nationalist Shiite movement. They are anti-Baath, anti-sunni, and anti- American. They are also not directly financed by Iran. This is because their main interest is an Iraqi national identity. Hence they welcomed the American overthrow of the Baath and Saddam who persecuted them, but they also view America's ongoing presence in Iraq as an occupation.
The MSM prefer to deal in sound bite slogans such as "the surge" and to have a colorful leader (Sadr) to demonize. The problem is that the situation is much much more complex than what they're presenting. (I havent even discussed the co-opting and arming of radical Sunni groups in Western Iraq, and the separatist ambitions of the oil rich Kurds in the North.)