A new Department of Defense (DoD) report released by the Pentagon cites the danger of the Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtqada al-Sadr's armed militiamen, as reported in the Los Angeles Times by Julian E. Barnes. He writes the report claims that Sadr's Al Mahdi army poses "the gravest danger to the security and stability of Iraq, surpassing Sunni Arab insurgents and Al Qaeda terrorists."
The Pentagon assessment says, "In the last three months, the number of attacks on U.S. and Iraqi troops and Iraqi civilians rose 22%, and the number of U.S. casualties grew 32% . . . As attacks have risen, the confidence of the Iraqi people has fallen, with fewer saying in surveys that they thought their government could protect them and more agreeing that civil war was likely."
The report acknowledges that U.S. military has complained for months that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shiite, has been unable to address armed Shiite groups and has obstructed American efforts to confront Sadr, and acknowledges the deteriorating situation that President Bush continues to blame on Al Qaeda.
Although there are many armed groups, the report verifies that the most powerful is the Al Mahdi army militia loyal to Sadr. The dour Pentagon report came hours after Robert M. Gates was sworn in as the 22nd Secretary of Defense with a pledge to extract frank assessments from military leaders and deliver plain advice to the president.
To read more, click title of this post, or go to the Los Angeles Times.