March 27th, 2008
03:37 PM ET
7 years ago

Blitzer: 'Pivotal moment' in Iraq could bring campaign fallout

New protests led by al-Sadr (above) threaten to short-circuit recent progress on security.
New protests led by al-Sadr (above) threaten to short-circuit recent progress on security.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – This looks like one of those pivotal moments in Iraq with enormous ramifications for the approximately 150,000 U.S. troops in the country.

The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shi’ite-dominated government is facing a major new challenge right now – not necessarily from Sunni insurgents, but from the anti-American Shi’ite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr’s supporters. They have been relatively quiet in recent months – basically honoring a cease-fire. But now, there is a real possibility that will change and a new level of Shi’ite versus Shi’ite fighting will escalate.

We are already seeing brutal fighting in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, where there is so much of Iraq’s oil reserves. Iraqi government forces are battling al-Sadr’s militia in the area. British forces retreated from the area and handed over security responsibility a few months ago to the Iraqi military and police.

That, in turn, is fomenting angry and violent al-Sadr-led demonstrations against al-Maliki’s government in the Sadr City area of Baghdad. And the shelling of the so-called Green Zone in Baghdad – where the U.S. Embassy is located - has escalated as well.

This is a real test for the Iraqi government. President Bush is welcoming what he calls al-Maliki’s “bold decision” to go after the rebel Shi'ite forces in Basra. “Terrorists and extremists in Iraq will know they have no place in a free and democratic society,” President Bush said.

At stake right now – whether the Bush administration’s military strategy will work. The political fallout on the campaign trail could be significant.

–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer


Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (106 Responses)
  1. kathleen

    Wolf, thanks for the new information.

    All we can do now is pray, really pray for our troops.

    Obama/Edwards 2008

    March 27, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  2. Tim

    This is ridiculous. Who didnt see this one coming? It is nearly impossible to get the people of Iraq to agree with eachother! They are too different! The entire countries borders were drawn WITH NO REGARD for the people that lived there by the French and English. Our troops need to come home NOW. There is no reason why U.S. troops ALONE should be the peace keeping force. This is a job for the U.N. Make China do it. Needless to say, if this continues, John McLame is done.

    March 27, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  3. An Agnostic Democrat

    Let's see McSame spin this one, "my friends".

    March 27, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  4. Clinton is a fraud

    Where is the progress McBush and his party say is happening in Iraq? We shouldn't have been in this mess from the get go and now see what is happening.
    I will vote for wisdom and good judgement anyday, anytime.
    Vote OBAMA 08, 12!

    March 27, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  5. HP Boston

    Well lets not forget the ECONOMY, the reason things are bad is b/c of the WAR.
    I think we should all hit the street every week and protest this quagmire! Get your friends, neighbors, go door to door, grab you sisters, wife, brother, kids, the dog the cat , everyone must PROTEST this war.

    $$$$ 275 MILLION DOLLARS A DAY!! $ $$$$$$$$$$$$

    March 27, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  6. Smedley Butler

    Spare us the breathless drama, Wolfie.
    "Events" will dictate responses and outcomes,, as Churchill said, not the agenda- driven media..

    March 27, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  7. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Lies will always back fire. When the Bush administration along with John McCain said the surge was working didn't tell the American people that the clergy al Sadr had declared a cease fire which stopped the violence during that time. Clergy al Sadr lifted the cease fire as a result of this current termoil and al Maliki can not and should not be trusted.

    March 27, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  8. mimi de la cruz

    THESE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN DOING THIS FOR THOUSANDS OF

    YEARS & ARE NOT ABOUT TO STOP FOR BUSH, HILLARY OR

    MCBUSH. THIS WAR NEEDS TO END BEFORE OUR ECONOMY

    TANKS ANY FURTHER. THE ONLY FLOWERS WE GOT ARE THE ONES

    WE PUT ON OUR CHILDREN'S GRAVES.

    March 27, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  9. Mike

    To our US troops, you have done a wonderful job. Thank you for your sacrifice. We will bring you home with Hillary's help.

    Not send you to Pakistan to fight a bigger war against a nuclear power like Obama wants.

    March 27, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  10. Grif

    And it won't get any better.....

    It's the Middle East.. Hasn't changed in Decades
    and Decades...
    They want to Rule Like Kings...
    All over the World...

    March 27, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. Ratgurl

    Hmm – sounds like CIVIL WAR to me. Should we really be playing in this particular sandbox?

    March 27, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  12. carla

    No mater your beliefs on the war I hope the Iraq's are able to have peace. I hope they can find a way to work together and take care of the people in their country. I pray for them everyday.

    March 27, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  13. A from VA

    If Bush wants McCain wants to win the election, he should give al Sadr some money to keep the cease-fire longer until the election and then show the American people that "look we are winning the war. we are making progress. there are less casualities due to the surge"

    I can't wait for the Administration's spin on this one!!

    March 27, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. Harry

    I have gotten extremely cynical of the entire mess.

    I had already believed that Al Sadr would hold his truce until the fall, then unleashing attacks to influence the U.S. elections. Thus getting the candidate elected, that would pull out U.S. troops

    I am not above thinking that Maliki was forced to attack Al Sadr, to drain his resources, prior to this fall, so that the surge would appear to be working, which would benefit McCain's position.

    Imagine that...... We started out to install a puppet government and ended up with one ourselves.

    March 27, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. Independent

    Is there a reason why we call al-Sadr anti-American? Is it because he's against the occupation? If that's the case, can we be consistent and call over half the population of the US anti-American too?

    NO! I didn't think so...how about let's step out of the echo-chamber for a second and see al-Sadr and the PEACEFUL protests for which he's calling for what they are!

    He doesn't speak for all Shia...about like Bush doesn't speak for all Americans. Let's put some perspective on this and at least ACKNOWLEDGE the fact that al-Sadr is calling for an end to the violence in Basra even though some Shia are not.

    March 27, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. David

    What the hell are we allowing to happen to ourselves and our country? Take away the "patriotic rhetoric" and we appear nothing but thugs.

    March 27, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  17. John B, Dallas TX

    The Bush administration is delusional. They could have chosen to unite the world in a fight against terrorism after 9/11, but instead they misled us into a war in Iraq that will have no good end. Even if we are there for 10, 20, 30 more years... will things really be better there? We all hoped that somehow the Iraq war would be good in the end for the Iraqi people. But the reality we suspected is finally becoming clear to us... except for a few in the White House. Whomever takes over in 2009 has a long and difficult task ahead of them, whether it's pulling out or staying in.

    March 27, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  18. John

    Tim, Have forgot that this mess is created by Bush without UN support? Now pay the price for purchase you made. You created mess ALONE, Now clean it.

    March 27, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  19. I Love America

    Hey AMERICA, just laugh BUSH and McCAIN now. Once this AL QAIDA and TERRORISTS strikes back and dominate the world .Who you blame?

    March 27, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  20. Deb

    I guess we ran out of money to pay al Sadr...I am guessing the only way for the democrats not to get the nomination in November would be...HILLARY CLINTON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 27, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  21. AJ, IL

    Wolf,

    I saw this coming and I'm not a military expert with vast amounts of foreign relations experience. When the story first broke that violence in Iraq was dramatically down because a temporary cease fire had been reached the anti-American Shi’ite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, I knew the violence would explode again within the next 6 months. America's presence in Iraq is only delaying the inevitable, which is a state that will cleave into three parts only after a civil war. The kurds want the north part of Iraq, the shia (who want to form an Islamic state like Iran) wants the east, and the sunni (who want an Islamic state like Egypt) wants the west.

    If the Iraq forces and Shia militias fully engage each other for more than two days, it will be the start of a full fledge civil war with American military forces in the middle of it.

    Where is the Bush Administration's talk of Al-Qaida now?

    March 27, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  22. Grif

    Why is it nobody wan't to Think, of what would have been the Alternative... I the USA and Whaterver alies hadn't invaded Iraq.

    There would have been a Nuclear Battle of some kind.
    Sadam was trying to turn the Palistians against Irael for Years.
    And he was doing that for The then King of Jordan..
    I gave it just two more years,,, in 2002.. My Oppinion.
    From Europe Oppinions.... They didn't Like Israel And still Don't.

    March 27, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  23. giresu

    I lived (and worked) in Saudi and Kuwait and there is no way this will be settled in a few years or 40 years. This was going on for a thousand years and is not something we will be able to force onto Iraquis over night. We just waste money and lives.

    March 27, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  24. Really? Really!

    The instability in the Mideast has been there for thousands of years. That region has been in almost constant conflict since before Christ's time. The wars are tribal, religiouis, and regional, and the only thing that has stopped them for even a short time is a brutal dictatorship such as Saddam's (the one very small positive thing, if you can call it that, to come out of his reign of terror). 150,000 coalition troops, supporting an American-installed puppet government that can't take a step without asking the American State Department if it's OK, plus millions of dollars a day is going to do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Oh, wait. It will do something. It will get a large number of troops coming home in pine boxes.

    Thank you President Bush. Many presidents from both parties have fine legacies of which they can be very proud. Your legacy is recession, a collapsed economy, and death of our children, with no end in sight on any front. Your daddy bought your way through college. He can't save you now. I bet he's ready to take you to the woodshed.

    March 27, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  25. Shawna

    The individuals on the ground know fully well that the surge has nothing to do keeping the peace. The militias are in control of the ground affairs, and regardless of whether we stay or leave, there will probably be a bloody war in the country leading to a dictator being in control, through military force.

    March 27, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
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