Arab TV: Operations in Baghdad have begun; Update: 2,000 U.S. troops enter Sunni district

So says Iraq the Model citing both Al Jazeera and Al Hurra, the network sponsored by the U.S. government. It’s going to start slow and gradually build, although Maliki told his generals this morning to get the lead out before another Sunni truck bomb knocks his approval rating from 1% down to absolute zero.

Cross your fingers and standby for updates.

Update: We start on an optimistic note as U.S. and Iraqi officials have confirmed CNN’s report that one of the current Iraqi MPs was convicted in 1983 of helping plan the bombing of the U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait. Bonus optimism: the bombings were allegedly linked to Maliki’s Dawa party.

Update: The new command center next to Maliki’s office won’t be fully operational for a few days yet, according to the WashTimes.

Update: Iraqi Shiite leader Abdel Aziz al-Hakim called on Bush to hold talks with Iran at a presser yesterday in Tehran. Unmentioned in the Times’s article: the fact that al-Hakim happens to be the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Khomeinist group formed in Iran in 1982 and sponsored for years afterwards — and quite possibly to this day — by the Iranian military.

Update: Hitchens antagonizes the left with his answer to the radioactive question of whose fault it is that Iraqis are at each others’ throats. You’ll recognize his point here as the same one Hirsi Ali made about Tariq Ramadan in the Guardian excerpt I posted this morning.

In many other people’s minds, too, there is the unspoken assumption that what the United States does in Iraq is a fully determined action, whereas what other people do is simply a consequence of that action, with no independent or autonomous “agency” of its own. This mentality was perfectly expressed, under the byline of Marc Santora, in the New York Times of Jan. 31. Santora explained the background of the murderous attacks on the Shiite festival of Ashura: “At Ashura, Shiites commemorate what is for them the most formative event of their faith, a celebration that had been banned under Saddam Hussein. In recent years, Sunni militants, caught up in a renewed sectarian split, have attacked worshippers on the holiday.” (My italics.)…

If there is a sectarian war in Iraq today, or perhaps several sectarian wars, we have to understand that this was latent in the country, and in the state, and in the society all along. It was not the only possible outcome, because it had to be willed and organized, but it was certainly high on the list of probabilities. (The Saddam Hussein regime, which thrived on the worst form of “divide and rule,” certainly represented a standing invitation to run this risk.)

In other words, those who now deplore and decry the “civil war” (or the “civil wars”) must, in order to be serious, admit that they would have deplored such an outcome just as much if it had not happened on America’s watch or had (like Rwanda) been something that we could have pretended to watch as disinterested or—even worse—uninterested spectators.

Update: Newsweek’s got a short but fascinating nightmare scenario for Iraq which, unusually, doesn’t involve war with Iran.

Update: As Omar said, the Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiyah is the first stop for the surge.

An AFP photographer embedded with the US brigade said soldiers searched dozens of houses and that “a large number of weapons were seized and more than a dozen people detained.”…

An aide to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki who asked to remain anonymous, denied the operation was the start of the security crackdown.

“The new security plan has not been launched, this is an operation to put pressure on Adhamiyah after we received information that fighters were gathering there,” the source said.