At least one critical question emerges from my long post on Maliki’s Basra lockdown:
Where is Sadr on the Basra lockdown?
1. Sadr/Yaqubi: the alliance between Sadr and Yaqubi (mentioned in my previous post) still holds and both are targets of the Maliki crackdown on Basra. The Maliki/Sadr alliance has already ended and the consequences will soon emerge: like Yaqubi’s Fadhila party, the Sadrists will withdraw from the government.
2. Sadr/Maliki: Sadr has sold out Yaqubi and given Maliki the green light for a crackdown on Fadhila’s control of the Basra oil infrastructure. The political isolation of Yaqubi’s Fadhila party is complete and the only resistance to Maliki’s crackdown will come from Fadhila’s rank and file.
3. Maliki Media Magic: there is no Basra lockdown worthy of the name. It was all a publicity stunt for the benefit of the Sunni insurgency to show that a Shiite government would “get tough” on its own rather than (or prior to) any comparable crackdown in the Sunni-dominated Anbar province.
4. Solidarity Forever: Maliki and the UK will disarm Sadr’s Mahdi Army and SCIRI’s Badr Brigade—and gently remove Fadhila’s rank and file from sensitive positions in the oil industry—but will do so in such an even-handed way that all parties will consent to the initiative. The UK will establish a monopoly on the use of force. Basra oil will flow like a mighty river into the waiting hands of International Oil Companies.
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