Is al-Maliki on the road to creating the Shi’ite client state that the Iranians have been trying to foster in Iraq for quite some time now?
From AP, :
BAGHDAD, Iraq “” Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Tuesday ordered the lifting of joint U.S.-Iraqi military checkpoints around the Shiite militant stronghold of Sadr City and other parts of Baghdad “” another apparent move to assert his authority with the Americans and appeal to his Shiite support base.
U.S. officials apparently did not have advance warning of the order to remove the around-the-clock barriers by 5 p.m. Tuesday. A military spokesman, Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, said officers were meeting to “formulate a response to address the prime minister’s concerns.”
Witnesses said U.S. forces were seen dismantling checkpoints around Sadr City made of sandbags and concrete blocks Tuesday afternoon.
The tightened security had been credited by some for producing a temporary decline in violence, possibly because they curbed the activities of Shiite death squads blamed for waves of sectarian killings of Sunnis.
But a car bomb exploded in the neighborhood on Tuesday, killing three people and wounding five, police said. On Monday, a bombing there killed at least 33 people.
The extra checkpoints were set up last week around Sadr City as U.S. troops launched an intensive search for a missing American soldier and raided homes looking for death squad leaders in the sprawling slum that is home to an overwhelmingly Shiite population of 2.5 million people.