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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. karen

    Is anyone going to discuss the fact that the troop surge is not working it is actually the fact that american soldiers are paying Al Sadr's supporters money to stop fighting the Americans. We are paying them to stop fighting that is why it looks like the fighting is less and Bush is lying to the american people again.

    March 27, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  2. james s roberts, Dallas, Texas

    And the beat goes on, the casualties go up, and the debt gets bigger.

    Another Vietnam for sure; our departure then and Iraq today driven by costs; lives, dollars and moral bankruptcy.

    March 27, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  3. Chris, Silicon Valley, CA, USA


    I agree, but it is more like centuries. They will fight until the end of time. Notice from this piece it is Shi'ite fighting Shi'ite now. The insurgency was mainly Sunni. If there were 2 people in the Middle East and nothing but sand, the 2 of them would fight over the sand.

    The only question for us is, how much of our blood and treasury do we want to pour out over there before we quit?

    Oh, and don't be surprised if we invite 100s of 1000s of expatriate Iraqis to the US when it is all over, because they other side won and we have to guarantee their safety. That means they will be here taking jobs from the same Americans who fought to "free" their country.

    March 27, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  4. John

    Iraq is the same as it was in 2003.. A MESS!.

    what have we been doing the last 5 years?

    – John McCain never knew what he was talking about. We already won, no saddam and no wmd's.. lets come home and let Iraqis sort out their own mess.

    March 27, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  5. bill talley

    Please replay Michael Ware's report and incorporate his critical insights into your comments. Iran is against al Sadr and is behind the effective efforts to erode his power. They are stealing his Mahdi army soldiers and officers, then training and equipping them to attack the Americans. Michael Ware reported that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s does not share Pres. Bush's agenda. Food for thought: If al-Maliki’s military is capable of mounting an offensive against what appears to be a political enemy, why can't they be defending other interests that our soldiers are dying for?

    March 27, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  6. Julia

    Can we please not politicize this to the extreme. People are being killed. Our troops.Iraqi civilians. Not "terrorists". Who gives a you know what about what effect this could have on a political campaign? Get our troops home. To use this tragic news to promote your candidate is disgusting, and those who do so with glee need to remember that this is not "good news" for anyone.

    March 27, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
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