A crackdown on the Mahdi Army militia is creating potentially destabilizing political and military tensions in Iraq, pitting a stronger government alliance against the force that has won past showdowns ...
"Potentially destabilizing." Hmm. That's a bit weaker, no? A lot of things are "potentially destabilizing," like having sectarian militias in control of your major port city! And what's this about "stronger government alliance." It's stronger, and as a result there are increased "concerns" about its "stability"? Perverse and dialectical!
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's military operations against the Mahdi Army that Mr. Sadr leads have at least temporarily pacified Sunni political leaders ...
So the Sunni political leaders are pissed off! Oh wait, no, they're pacified. This doesn't sound so unstable, yet. Ah, but it's only "at least temporarily." Maybe the long run is where the "concerns on stability" are raising. That must be it!
And both the Kurds and some of Mr. Maliki's Shiite political rivals, who also resent Mr. Sadr's rising power, have been driven closer to Mr. Maliki. This may give him more traction to pass laws and broker deals.
Now Maliki has two additional sets of allies, and "more traction." The instability better be coming soon, because this is beginning to sound like the makings of, you know, stability.
But the badly coordinated push into Basra has unleashed a new barrage of attacks on American and Iraqi forces and has led to open fighting between Shiite militias.
Aha! He launched an attack, which led to ... fighting! But we already know he launched the attack. That's what strengthened his ties to the Sunnis, Kurds, and other Shiite groups.
Figures compiled by the American military showed that attacks specifically on military targets in Baghdad more than tripled in March, one of many indications that violence has begun to rise again after months of gains in the wake of an American troop increase.
Violence rose in March. Maliki launched his attacks March 25, meaning that most of the rising March violence happened before the (potentially) destabilizing crackdown. Blinded by conventional notions of time and causation, you might even suspect the rising violence prompted the crackdown.
In Iraq, where perceived power is a key to real authority, Iraqis saw the Mahdi Army stopping Mr. Maliki's Basra assault cold, then melting away when Mr. Sadr ordered them to lay down their arms.