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US corporate media has found a feel good story about Iraq: “Operation Peace” – 3 brigades of 10 thousand Iraqi soldiers taking over the giant Sh’ite slum of Sadr City in Baghdad. Pepe Escobar says it is really still about Maliki supporting the al-Hakim family in its war of influence against the Sadr family.

Story Transcript

PEPE ESCOBAR, ANALYST, THE REAL NEWS NETWORK: Finally US corporate media has found a feel-good story about Iraq, and the spinning is massive. It’s all about Operation Peace—three brigades of 10,000 Iraqi soldiers taking over the giant Shiite slum of Sadr City in Baghdad. Let’s examine what the Iraqi army spokesman has to say about this.

BRIG. GEN. QASSIM AL-MOUSSAWI, IRAQI MILITARY SPOKESMAN (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): The troops that entered into Sadr City today are Iraqi army and police forces. The multi-national troops have not taken part in this ‘Operation Peace.’ But perhaps we need support from the coalition troops who are now outside the city. And this was agreed upon with the multi-national troops, who are ready to offer support in case their assistance is needed.

ESCOBAR: Well, when he says Iraqi army, most of it is Badr Organization militia, the armed wing of the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq. They’ve been fighting the Mahdi Army. If they remain stationed in Sadr City, sooner or later there will be major trouble. When he means Iraqi police, they’re all infiltrated by the Mahdi Army anyway, and that explains why local imams are distributing Korans to these police officers now in Sadr City. So why the Americans are not part of this operation? Because General David Petraeus’ men have already thrown everything they have against Sadr City: they accused the Mahdi Army of getting weapons from Iran; they unleashed, and I quote, “precision bombing” air strikes, killing scores of civilians; they start building a huge wall to isolate a giant slum. And nothing worked. Now it’s up to the Maliki government, who cannot even govern properly, to give some impression of progress. The whole thing is still about Maliki supporting the al-Hakim family and its war of influence against the Sadr family. Anyway, the Americans may muscle up anytime, and the truce between Maliki and the Mahdi Army can be broken any time, as it already has, according to the Sadrists. Meanwhile, something’s got to be spun to give the people back home the illusion of an American progress in Iraq.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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Pepe Escobar, born in Brazil is the roving correspondent for Asia Times and an analyst for The Real News Network. He's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, based in London, Milan, Los Angeles, Paris, Singapore, and Bangkok. Since the late 1990s, he has specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central Asia, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has made frequent visits to Iran and is the author of Globalistan and also Red Zone Blues: A Snapshot of Baghdad During the Surge both published by Nimble Books in 2007.