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. Mark B'ham, Al.

    If the Iraqi Army can bring law and order to Basra and bring Al-Sadr and his supporters under control and back into the government that is what will get our brave service members home with "Honor and Dignity" not the post Viet Nam retreat the democrats are hoping for. As a retired Navy member I want us to win unlike some of you Bush-haters.

    March 27, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  2. California Independent

    We will never abandon the people of Iraq. You are delusional if you think the American people would support that. Solutions need to be found to move the Iraqi govt and rebuild that country. Stop whining. You had your chance to stop the war by writing your representatives and protesting. I'm 100% sure no one posting here die either.

    March 27, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  3. Ronald

    I guess we will just need to borrow more money from China or Saudi Arabia so we can pay both sides not to fight until McCain wins in November. Why are America's finest being places in such an untenable position?

    March 27, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  4. Ronald

    I guess we will just need to borrow more money from China or Saudi Arabia so we can pay both sides not to fight until McCain wins in November. Why are America's finest being placed in such an untenable position?

    March 27, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  5. Martin

    Hmm. I thought the whole purpose of al-Maliki's government was that it be a Sunni/Shi'ite/Kurd coalition. If so, then how can the violence be Shi'ite vs. Shi'ite?

    March 27, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |



    March 27, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  7. Chris from San Antonio

    Lemme guess. The al-Queada is in its death throes and we're turning a corner.

    March 27, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  8. Michael&CarolMeier

    Wolf Blitzer:
    This being the USA and in an election such as what is now taking place, ALL votes are to be counted! Therefore, NO STATES votes are to be omitted for WHATEVER!!
    Concerned Citizens,
    Michael & Carol Meier

    March 27, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  9. Conservative

    "Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Ron Paul!"

    March 27, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  10. Cindy

    Nobody wins in a war. Nobody. Even the supposed winner doesn't win. I feel bad for our guys and gals over there. They should never have been sent there.

    Hang in there, we'll get you out. The people in the region, need to find a common ground, without our strongarm interference... our meddling.

    March 27, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  11. From PA

    Can we say Oil?

    This is Iraqi's oil Mr.Bush

    March 27, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  12. Dave

    Totally amazing, folks whine about Iraqi's taking care of their own security and when they finally step up to the plate those same folks call it a failure of Bush. Nice spin...

    March 27, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  13. Abbey

    Sadly, I don't think there will ever be peace there, at least not in my lifetime. I agree we should never have gone to Iraq but admit I don't know the solution to getting out now. I worry about more people dying if we leave but don't want our troops dying either. It seems like a hopeless situation. I would like to hear more about the pros and cons of us staying there.

    March 27, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  14. Very Concerned American

    President Bush hasn't been right about his decision on this war for quite some time. Our American troops are such heros. Hopefully they are getting the recognition they deserve.

    These have been so very sad to watch our men dying daily while we're bickering about silly topics.

    We better have a clear picture of who would be the best qualified candidate. All candidates should be asked specifics about comments they make about our economy, the war and their moral values.

    The media has so much control of it, it's scarey.

    March 27, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  15. HILLARY!

    GO HILLARY....this is all you people at CNN let get posted....

    March 27, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  16. Craig, Seattle, WA

    Enough is enough. The US Government needs to take a hard look at what our "interests" are in the middle east. None of this in Iraq is truly helping to stem their dependence on the US presence. As well, the pandering to Israel MUST STOP. Yes.. we know and remember the Holocaust but this is 2008. Israel can defend themselves. They do not need the US coming to their defense every time they cry wolf or if they don't like the way someone looked at them. I am over protecting Israel.

    March 27, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  17. Very Concerned American

    This is a wonderful topic to discuss. After all American men and women are fighting for their lives. Let's not neglect them. I pray that this war will end soon. Our troops are true patriots and deserve so much respect.
    These are men of real courage. Bravo to all of them for their performance in this battle.

    March 27, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  18. Susan, CA

    President Bush is an idiot. He has no idea who we are fighting over there and neither does John McCain. They keep confusing the Shi'ites and Sunnis and have no idea who supports whom. He is still talking of "victory" as if that were an obtainable goal. Either he is in denial or believes if he says it enough times, it will be possible.

    March 27, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  19. Peter

    Call him a dictator, call him a evil, call him the number enemy of our country, but Saddam had to do what he did to keep this country from breaking into million pieces. We simply went in with the cowboy attitude and screwed up that country big time. We are in Iraq only for their OIL! We could've covertly knocked Saddam out of power and put in a puppet government like we have and control the oil flow to our country. But NO! we had to follow the cowboy logic!

    March 27, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  20. Joe

    I hate to say it but George Bush and John McCain are out of touch with reality when it comes to Iraq. No matter how many of our young men we lose George Bush will never admit that he made a mistake going into Iraq. If John McCain is elected President he will stay the course and we will lose another 4,000 lives for nothing.

    March 27, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  21. Mike

    This recent violence only tells us what we already know. American troops have done all that they can do in Iraq. The people of Iraq must determine the future of the country. It is time to bring our wonderfull troops home to a Hero's welcome. Obama is the only candidate that can be trusted to bring us home.

    March 27, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  22. gerrbear

    So truth will out as always.......the surge didn't do a thing . a truce and then calm while they build up forces to hit us again.. Just as I saw in VM time after time.. who knows maybe Kissinger was at it again..
    Bushie and boyes in the back room will say as always...So..... as dickie said just the other day... they know the voters are easily led and have apparently have no clue what the military establishment is.
    LIke there energy policy america will just keep paying and blaming the other guy.
    Again I am reminded. .we can not prepare for peace while waging war..

    March 27, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  23. Sergio

    Ok, even if you were giving Bush/Cheney (and now McCain) the benefit-of-the-doubt with the surge policy, fellow Americans open your eyes and lets get the hell out of there or at least contain the mess. I am a very dissappointed democrat! What the hell is this democratic led congress and senate doing. Overppwer the executive barnch! Murtha has been right all along! It is a CIVIL WAR fellow Americans!

    March 27, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  24. Bond

    The troop surge had very little to do with the decrease in violence. It was due to the call for cease fire by al-Sadr. Anything to the contrary is just Bush and McCain war monger spin. The troops are doing what they are told and doing a fantastic job. Its way past time for all of them to come home.

    March 27, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  25. Dre

    It's really important that this is happening now. This is a perfect opportunity to see if the training that the Iraqi forces have received from US troops and commanders is paying off. Also, this is a great opportunity to see how smooth or not, the Iraqi government is going to step up to this challenge while the US takes a more hands off approach and offers advice and guidance.

    The parallels are funny as Obama faces challenges to his character here and now, yet he steps up to each one and seems more presidential as time runs off the clock.

    March 27, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
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