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. Nobillary Andobama

    "These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands now, deserves the thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated."

    Let's just turn our backs on the Iraqi's and run away....nice job liberals....nice job

    March 27, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  2. Al, Sacramento Ca

    The lies from the GOP continue.

    McCain is ready to serve Bush's third term.

    No to McCain
    No to a Republican White House

    America needs healing.

    Hillary 08!!

    March 27, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  3. hadenough

    It's been obvious for along time that the"surge" was "working" because Al-Sadr had called for a cease-fire, and the tribal leaders were being paid off to not support the terrorist militias.
    I agree, watch the spin on this one, and the outrage of the neo-cons when they are called on it.
    Part of BushCo's box full of lies, this one by omitting the true facts....

    March 27, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  4. Ian

    What do you mean, "How is McCain going to spin this?". Seriously? He's going to use the same fear card that Bush used. And people are going to buy it. Obviously we can't leave Iraq yet, there are still terrorists there.

    March 27, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  5. Dave, SC


    President Bush liberated the Iraqis so that they can kill each other.

    Saddam ~ 250,000 dead
    Bush ~ 704,000 dead

    Yes, we are kicking AlQaeda's butt!

    March 27, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  6. Brent

    Wolf, you should interview Zbigniew Brzezinski about his op ed in the Washington Post. He's the only foreign policy giant who got the war right before it started and his vision for disengagement is quite compelling.

    March 27, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  7. D from inside the beltway

    interesting story line here, i wonder if it would be possible to dig deeper into the issues in what is the latest violence. In short, I have read there are 3 factions of shia's fighting for power in Basra. Also that there are elections coming in October and some are saying this military action is a political consolidation attempt no more or less. Don't Americans who are paying for this war deserve better analysis/reporting of the issues. Or do we really have to endure more clinton vs. Obama bickering. Face it. they're the same people by and large policy wise.

    March 27, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  8. DILLY


    March 27, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  9. Chris in Va.

    Mike says," Not send you to Pakistan to fight a bigger war against a nuclear power like Obama wants". Senator Obama never said he wants to go to war with Pakistan. His reference was to strikes on Al-qaida in the North if intellegence confirms Bin- Laden is about.. Typical mis-informed Hillary supporter, which brings us to the issue: were you born an idiot or have you studied under Hillary to achieve that? You have listened to your heroine so long you can't seperate fact from fantasy.

    March 27, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  10. Scott

    Throw more money at them to calm down the situation. All the bribes to various factions in Iraq seem to have quieted things thus far. And after all, it's just the tax payers' money. Why should Bush care?

    March 27, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  11. WhosehadEnough

    Mr. Blitzer with all due respect this is not a "political" game with the new violence in Basra.....As we are speaking neo-cons are planning on how to go to war in Iran the way they were planning THIS war in Iraq....using the 9/11 attacks as a "political" tool.

    Our troops are tired, our military is stretched thin.......When is someone going to ask John McCain if we are going to institute a DRAFT like we had during Vietnam?

    March 27, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  12. Auntie Coosa, Blairsville, Georgia, USofA

    Read about the Battle at Lepanto (Google it) and learn how to win the war on terror.

    It seems to me there are two wars being fought in Iraq. One war is the war the US and Coalition Forces are winning, and then there's the war the media reports on that the Terrorists are winning.

    Voters have to decide which war they favor and then make their decision to vote for President the man or woman who exemplifies their belief.

    I believe the US and Coalition are making headway. I believe that they are realizing that there is no "Moderate Islam" but there IS a "Modern Islam." And it's the "Modern Islam" that will decide the end result of the war on terror.

    March 27, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  13. Gobama

    Shia and Sunni maniac muslims have been fighting each other for 1400 years.

    Even today in Pakistani shia and sunni insane islamists have killed 10s of each other,

    Americans should seriously consider sending Bush and McBush to do their own fundraising and go baby sit sunnis and shia in Iraq, who could be fighting for another 1400 years.

    However, not one more US life/limb/mental health should be wasted in Iraq, nor one more dime from US Treasury should be wasted in Iraq and kill off the American economy.

    If Bush cared, he would start pulling Americans soldiers out of Iraq, and not leave his Iraq mess for President Obama.

    March 27, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  14. christopher flynn

    bush's strategy: reminds me of "Apocalypse Now" where the officer looking for the renegade soldier lands in an american military camp and asks, "who's in charge"? and is met with statements like, "Is there anybody in charge...I thought you were in charge..."

    March 27, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  15. keith Franklin, Tn

    Our troops have performed magnificent. We have done our part, now let the Iraqi people police their own country.

    W said "Mission Accomplished" long ago??

    Iraq needs to close their borders. Don't ask us for help on that because we obviously can't close ours.

    If "Al Sadr" cuts his people loose agin...nobody will be able to live a normal life in that country. Eventually Iraq will be like Iran

    Was it worth all we gave? I don't want to hear how much our action in Iraq kept terrorists fro doing things here. All we did was bring more of them out in the open and create the atmosphere for them to grom in numbers.

    Send Karl Rove to help the Iraqis....Ha!!!

    March 27, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  16. aware

    It isn't good news for any candidate but McCain would be the best prepared to handle an Iraq escalation!

    If you listened to Newt Gingrich speaking to the Enterprise Institute today on C-Span2 you would probably give up on the Dems period. He really made sense for this wavering Dem.

    After Obama, I don't trust the Dem. party! Dean and Pelosie are getting nuttier every day, and Obama is a walking, talking, ticking disaster for America! 🙁

    March 27, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  17. Jmac

    I suspect it has not been the surge that calmed things down periodically as much as the cease fire by Muqtada Al Sadr and his cronies. Now that they have unleashed again, things are getting bad for our troops most unfortunately.

    March 27, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  18. Help Us Lord

    Now, we know why Cheney went to Iraq. It's all about the Oil Pathway in the dessert. There is Russia on the top and Israel beyond the Meditteranean Sea. America is the self-proclaimed defender of the Jews not Amighty God.
    Did nt God say, "I will give my glory to no one!"? Why then does America think that she is the only one capable of defending God's physically chosen. Besides, they have the armor, army, and technology to prevail.
    CNN! You already know this! Surprising, there are others of us that do read and comprehend.
    American Republicans and Hillary do not believe your own propaganda.
    OBAMA in 2008

    March 27, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  19. kevin from alaska

    How is John McCain going to continue this war without reinstating the draft?

    What are we going to do? Ask our troops to do a 5th, 6th, 7th tour of duty in Iraq?

    And also, $12 billion/month in Iraq. I ask you all this: would we be a safer nation if we A) pump $12b/month into a far-off Middle Eastern country with no nukes and no previous links to Osama Bin Laden OR B) spend $12b/month investing in airport security, boarder security, and improving our intelligence?

    March 27, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  20. Bob C

    Bush's logic is ludicrous....How can he say, today, that the "surge" is working??!.....The current insurrections in Bagdad and Basra tells me that none of the Iraqi factions want to see American troops/money leave what Iraqis' believe was broke by the US....I agree with Obama, there is only a political solution, here: not a military one.......Let the UN, Iran,Syria, and the middle east resolve this please....No more bodybags for your brave GI sitting ducks,please!

    March 27, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  21. Independent-Latina-voter, Salt Lake City, UT

    Before the Bush war on Iraq, they may have been in a dictatorship but now civil war continues to rear its ugly head. Its a disaster over there, one that we and our children will be paying for, for years to come.

    OBAMA 08

    March 27, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |

    Untold story – all major news agencies are holding back on this one – it is not the surge that is slowing down the violence in Iraq it is the BILLIONS we are paying the Sheiks and insurgents not to attack, not to mention – where did all those missing arms go? You guessed it – to the insurgents as well. The big question now is – what will happen if we stop paying them ? Moreover, what would happen if we try to get all those arms back ? Why is this story being held back until after the election ? Start looking for yourself – where are all those missing billions of dollars and tens of thousands of arms ? Have we given strength to an army just to delay a fight for a later time like the ones we did with Hussein and the Taliban ? our troops are doing a great job but if all was needed was more troops to tamp the violence and our military leaders could not figure that out than we are in big trouble, I don’t that is the case and I think that anyone who takes a serious look at this will conclude the same. Next time the generals are in Washington I hope congress will ask these hard questions .

    March 27, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  23. Let's make our kids pay for it!!

    Let me get this straight...

    The federal government has $3 trillion to spend on the 'war' (aka babysitting Iraq's internal civil war) and $30 billion to bailout Bear Sterns, but I get 10 email a day from my kids' school district about how they don't have any money, need to fire teachers, bake sale, etc.

    Are there ANY republicans (aside from Ron Paul) out there who believe in smaller gov and pay as you go? Clearly not the Bush family nor McBush...totally irresponsible in the planning and execution of this quagmire.

    March 27, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  24. Grif

    You the Hanker-man. and only 12 comments... I don't think I believe that....
    Therefore, I will have to wait to read other responders....

    March 27, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  25. rjohnson

    Going broke!!!!!
    We have a club, total participants number 20. The rules are simple, for every time you or Jack mention by name Barack Obama we must contribute $1.00 to Hillary Clenton’s campaign. I must tell you we are going broke. Another rule, which hasn’t had to be enforced is $2.00 for every time you mention the name Barack Hussein Obama.

    I wonder if you could once in a while just say Barack or Obama not pronounced together. Going broke we are. But you sure are helping Hillary out. Please slow it down for a month or two. At least until we vote here in West Virginia. But then you want Hillary to drop out so we are deprived of our civil rights. You see we are of the female gender, and some are black just not black and white in one.

    We are all retired and going broke.

    March 27, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
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