The numbers be damned. His evidence? The Iraqi parliament bombing, an attack transparently designed to facilitate sound bites just like this one. Awfully neighborly of him to oblige.
On Mookie’s orders, the six Sadrist members of the cabinet resigned today to protest the fact that Maliki hasn’t demanded a timetable for withdrawal from Bush. (Maliki’s response: great, thanks for freeing the positions up for non-sectarians.) On the other hand, the Sadrist bloc of 30 MPs haven’t resigned from Maliki’s ruling coalition. It’s another example of the fine line he’s walking right now between being cooperative enough not to antagonize the U.S. military, e.g., pulling the JAM off the streets, and aggressive enough to retain his cult of personality among Shiites, e.g., calling for mass protests against the U.S. The more reports we hear of Iran coopting members of his militia, the more pressure there is on him to reassert his authority and go back on the offensive. The Sunnis are giving him every excuse he needs; if the resignations today portend the return of the Mahdi Army, then we’re about to see just how right or wrong the Breck Girl is.
Meanwhile, the Times and WaPo each lead today with phenomenally depressing articles about Baquba, where an estimated 2,000 jihadis — roughly the same number that had taken over Fallujah in 2004 — are holed up and launching consistent attacks undermanned U.S. troops. Takeaway from WaPo: “Soldiers say the most heinous crimes are committed by al-Qaeda in Iraq fighters, who have attacked hospitals, used female suicide bombers, raped and tortured. They are said to inflict their hard-line religious beliefs in bizarre ways, such as prohibiting shopkeepers from putting cucumbers (considered male) and tomatoes (female) in the same bins.”