March 27th, 2008
03:37 PM ET
6 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. Brian Rich

    Great analysis Wolf. I'm always wondering how the day-to-day actions in Iraq are going to continue to shape the race for the White House. It seems like Iraq is the ever-changing wild card, always violently rocking side to side, dislodging everyone's arguments and positions and forcing a new trail to be blazed nearly every day in response to each new development.

    When Al Sadr took up the ceasefire agreement, people didn't really notice. They attributed all of the relative peace in Iraq to the surge's successes. But when Al Sadr starts killing again, what is going to happen? Surely we'll go right back to where we were last year – despicable and horrendous violence with no change in the status quo and no end in sight.

    Time to bring our men and women home, establish a new energy supply and leave this entire region to implode, which we are currently only delaying. It'll be nice to get our military back and cut the financial bleeding, too.

    March 27, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  2. LAV

    what can OBAMA do if IRAQ can no longer supply AMERICA a drop of oil?

    March 27, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  3. kathleen

    Carla,
    I want to see peace in Iraq too. I think that we can find a way to work
    together and take care of the people in their country. Surely they have
    enought money of their own to rebuild that country. I pray for our
    soldiers and the Iraq people who were caught in the middle. No,
    I do not think we can desert the Iraq people. No. it would not be
    right. God know, America needs to make amends somehow.

    OBama/Edwards 2008

    March 27, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  4. Gorbashov, Long Beach, Ca.

    Ths is a civil war within a civil war, and our brave men and women in uniform are caught in the crossfire. This failed Bush/McCain policy needs to come to an end. Bush/McCain and supporters of this failed policy care more about their ego and legacy then our troops in harms way. Enough of the madness.

    Obama in 2008!

    March 27, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  5. John McCain

    I love this stuff..........

    It makes me all hot; it makes me want to kiss Joe Lieberman.

    March 27, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. Corey, Maryland

    WHY CANT WE ALL JUST GET ALONG!!!!!!!!

    Obama Richardson 08!!!

    March 27, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  7. Saad

    President Bush as well as evil Cheney and evil Rumsfeld have referred to history on numerous occasions.... YES INDEED... history will tell.... above story is only one of trillion stories that will be written in history books to the disaster this administration has caused. 4000 of our troops, 300000 innocent Iraqis', billions of dollars of our money.... and counting... and the above.... as Kathleen said above, all we can do now is pray.....

    March 27, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  8. Jake

    Oh look at this. The Dems were right. Again.
    I think its clear who should be leading this country.

    That said, I love how my fellow dems are about to sacrifice the most winnable election in years by deciding they would rather vote for McCain than the "other" Democrat.

    Im an Obama supporter, but either Obama or Hillary would be miles above of McCain, who despite his foreign policy "expertise" still seems to be unable to tell the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite. Although I firmly believe that Obama has superior leadership qualities, better experience, and better judgement than Hillary, I would vote for her in a second over McCain.

    Its time all Democrats woke up and realized what we are collectively about to do to our country by handing McCain the election.

    I will be voting for my first time this election, I WILL vote for a democrat. I want that democrat to be Obama. Some of you understandably support Hillary, I completely support your right to do that. But if we back off on the Democrats because we couldn't handle a tough campaign which has gotten too nasty, and if we don't look at the big picture, there will no longer be a Bush to blame this on. We will only have ourselves.

    March 27, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  9. jj

    WHY ISN'T CNN REPORTING ON THE LATEST WRIGHT COMMENTS/PAMPHLETS THAT SURFACED TODAY!!!!

    March 27, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  10. roberta thornburg

    Call me crazy, but I fine the war in Iraq stiring up again is most conventent for the republicans. Just like the last election and gee bin laden tape pop's up again . dud

    March 27, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  11. mitch from ark.

    al-sadr's restless supporters have been waiting for us to leave,instead,we sent more troops,bush won't budge,until his reign is over,and our troops are going to get stuck in the middle of it.instead of a surge,we should have began withdrawing our troops a year ago,if not sooner.when bush declared victory,we should have left.it's not our job to solve other countries political problems.that's up to the u.n.

    March 27, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  12. Bob Stephens

    The bottom line is that the people in Iraq don't want us there. There is no way to "win" a civil war being fought by the people of another country. We were beyond stupid to get in this war that was planned by Bush and Cheney long before it started, and who now have a tiger by the ears and don't know how to let go. Their solution, of course, is to drag their heels until the new President takes over, and then it will be his problem to deal with. McCain , of course, will continue to do all the stupid things that Bush did, to get us in the war in the first place, and the only thing that will change is the body counts.

    Just the fact that this chicken hawk President that we have in the White House now, won't even let the flag draped coffins of the fallen heroes be photographed, when the bodies are returned to the Untied States, shows what a disgusting creep Bush is.

    March 27, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  13. Charles Macrellik

    John Mcain is nothing but a "Social Darwinist".

    March 27, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  14. dp

    To Mike:
    It was with Hillary's help that Bush and McCain had sent our troops to Iraq. Don't ever forget that.

    March 27, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  15. hazel in london

    What's the big surprize? Bush and McCain support an illegal war that is a complete disaster. Yes, this will effect the election because Obama will win. Go Barack Obama – you are our best chance for peace.

    March 27, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  16. Mike

    $270,000,000 a day you say? Cheap at twice the price...

    March 27, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. never2big

    What a disaster. For all you folks that voted for Bush-Cheney and the Supreme Court that gave him the White House, thanks. Thanks for all your wisdom and foresight. Look what you've done to our lives, our future and our beloved country – not to mention the Iraqis, and to every other person that's not a gazillionaire. Thanks.

    March 27, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  18. Adriana

    Hey Mike,
    The guys who actually did attack us are actually in Pakistan...you realize that, right? You are aware they are trying as hard as they can to do it again? If there is any danger from Nukes...it is al-Qaeda getting their hands on what is in Pakistan and shipping it here in an unchecked cargo container.

    Perhaps if we had sent 150,000 troops to Afghanistan in Oct 2001 instead of 15,000 we would have finished off al-Qaeda once an for all...instead we sent them in to Iraq do a job that a small CIA team could have done. And now look where we are....

    March 27, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  19. CHICANO ART, ARIZONA

    Iraqi leaders are overseeing this campaign. These leaders are also Shia. This is a big step in the right direction for the Iraqi government. I believe that the candidates basically understand what had to be done in Iraq. They will simply call it different names. McCain calls it Victory, Hillary calls in withdrawl, Obama calls it redeployment. My point is everybody knows we have to get out and everybody knows we can't leave entirely. My first choices since the begining of the campaign was McCain and Hillary.
    I have been an independent before when McCain had run the first time. I always thought my choice would be Hillary Clinton or McCain. I have thrown my support behind Hillary because I do not feel Obama will be a great leader and would only waste valuable time learning world politics instead of leading the world. I believe McCain and Hillary have the strength and ability to make the United States the Free Worlds leader again. We can be successful in Iraq. I said it people and I believe it.

    March 27, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  20. Joyce--Canada

    One question!

    Why is that YOU as in CNN are forever talking about Hilary Clinton lying. Why wasn't the fact that Obama lied to the American people on CNN/360 when he stated quite clearly that and I quote " I was not aware of the comments made by my pastor"! The blog following that statement called him out on this yet NO ONE has made an issue out of that. He once again got a free ride!

    I love CNN and have been watching it for my news for years but of late I have to say that your bias towards Clinton is so evident that it leaves me cold. How can we the viewers TRUST your news when we see things like this happening to one of your own!

    I was always under the impression the News people reported the news without their likes and dislikes being front and center! There is NO doubt that Obama is your man..and you didn't have to endorse him for that to be understood!

    March 27, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  21. Brent

    Wolf, its time for CNN to start giving nuanced coverage of the Iraq war.
    There are a few things that are bothering me,

    1. I keep hearing and reading "the anti american cleric Muqtada al Sadr". What cleric or sheik in Iraq isn't anti american?

    2. We hear that the "Iraqi security forces" are battling the Mehdi army. Aren't these securtiy forces heavily infiltrated by the Badr Brigade which is the biggest Iranian backed militia in Iraq?

    3. I never hear anything about Kirkuk. Correct me if i'm wrong but isn't the future of that city arguably the most explosive thing to deal with in Iraq. What happens with Turkey if the Kurds get it? Will they invade? And what will the Kurds do if the central government in Baghdad refuse to give them control of the city?

    Just a few of the endless questions unanswered about this quagmire.

    March 27, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  22. george fedha

    1+1=2, therefore US$trillions spent in Iraq = US trillions less in America causing recession in the USA – why can't we see the reality – Wake up America! bring the troops back homeand the war will disappear – all that the insurgents want is the publicity – and they are getting it. Ans stop being cheated that you will get the oil in Iraq, the Iraqis, the Chinese and others are well ahead of the game – for such a great nation, with the best brains, best of everyting – THE DREAM, lets wake up, Bush, McCain and others are taking us for a long dangerous ride on Iraq, and we are shamefully jumping on board – Its never too late to see the truth

    March 27, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  23. Chuck

    This is a result and an outcome of the invasion of Iraq by the US and that Hillary voted for. Anyone, anyone, with some common sense and a little study of the people in this area would have known that the invasion would splinter these factions into a civil war that no amount of US interference or policing can stop. It will only stop after one faction or the other wins an all-out civil war and gains control of the country by way of a heavy hand. Only then will peace come to the Iraqi people. It may be a peace that is maintained and controled by a Dictator but there certainly will be more stability then there is now. And one day when the people of Iraq wish to rid themselves of a Dictatorship they will have to do so by way of their own desire and fierce determination. They cannot and will not be proded by another country as the US that they see as occupiers, not as liberators. Hillary should have known this as many Dems did who opposed the war as did Obama. You have to have empathy, understanding and a keen sense of the differences in people throughout the world in order to be successful in world affairs. Hillary obviously had neither when she voted for this war.

    March 27, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  24. Bryan

    Hey Mr. Wolf Blitzer, the last time I made an inportant comment
    you did not let it through

    Lets try again:

    How about spending more time with more important issues which
    could prove to be a bomb shell to the American people

    """Let the American people know more about the new surfaced
    informaton about the Rev. Wright and Islam""""

    March 27, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  25. truth be told

    Mike... how much does Sen. Clinton pay you to spread her lies and Obamabash...

    OBAMA/Richardson 08

    March 27, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
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