Super: Two senior Iraqi generals being questioned about Karbala attack

Yeah, the one Iran allegedly was involved in. Just the sort of happy tiding we want to surf on as the security crackdown in Baghdad begins. No details about what role the generals might have played, but here’s a clue:

“The attackers went straight to where Americans were located in the provincial government facility, bypassing the Iraqi police in the compound,” [a military spokesman] said. “We are looking at all the evidence to determine who or what was responsible for the breakdown in security at the compound and the perpetration of the assault.”

Gen. Casey told the Armed Services Committee yesterday he expects troops will be stationed inside Sadr City. Problem? Nope: as previously reported, most of the Mahdi Army leaders are bugging out to ride out the storm:

The instructions delivered by emissaries of anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr at a recent meeting in Baghdad were clear to militiaman Massan Abdul Hussein.

“They informed us to hide the weapons,” Abdul Hussein recalled of the Jan. 21 meeting in the Shula neighborhood. “They said: ‘We will not allow anyone to carry any arms, even if it’s a pistol under their shirt. This is not acceptable.'”…

“We should try at all costs to avoid any confrontation with the American forces, and even if they raid our offices or our houses, we should try to avoid a confrontation,” he said. “We do not want this to lead to a larger outbreak of violence.”…

In recent weeks, Mahdi Army leaders have left Baghdad to avoid being targeted, according to Iraqi and U.S. officials. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s office has received reports that some Mahdi Army leaders are moving to Iran and Syria, according to an aide to Maliki who spoke on condition of anonymity.

They’ll play nice for awhile to prop Maliki up and give Bush an opening to declare victory and withdraw, then they’ll come back and resume command. We can use the lull to train the Iraqi army and dismantle some of the militias’ supply lines and financial infrastructure and supply lines, but there’s no way to destroy an enemy under western rules of engagement if he won’t fight:

If Sadr’s militia does indeed attempt to wait out the security crackdown, Casey said, that “would clearly present a challenge” to the Iraqi government, which he said underscores the need to have Iraqi forces capable of bringing security to the country. Developing effective Iraqi forces has been a U.S. goal for more than three years. Casey noted earlier in his 46-page statement, which was filed yesterday with the committee, that one of the most significant mistakes that U.S. officials made in Iraq was overestimating the speed with which Iraqi forces could be developed.

While the Shiite militias appear intent on waiting out the Iraqi-American security offensive by moving out of the city and lying low, Sunni insurgents will take a different course, Casey predicted.

Meanwhile, Newsweek reports that the CIA is worried about archterrorist Imad Mughniyeh organizing attacks against the U.S. in case we hit Iran. An Iranian “official” chuckled about it:

“Americans’ interest in Mughniyeh shows their desperation for any insight into Hizbullah operations,” says the official, who refused to be ID’d speaking on a sensitive subject. The official seemed amused to be asked about Mughniyeh. “To my knowledge, he hasn’t been involved in any operation for the past decade. There’s a new cadre of operatives in Hizbullah that Americans don’t know anything about. And I’m not going to tell you about them, either.”

Exit question: Just how many troops are involved in the surge? Too many, says Gen. Casey.