Watch Southern Iraq for sign of splitIf Iraqi army stands down and the Al Mehdi militia rules, then the tide has turned in the civil war.
Since we can't trust the Bush administration to give us an honest assessment of how the war's going, I am going to use southern Iraq as my barometer.
Baghdad: The southern governorates of Thi-Qar and Misan, where majority of the population are Shiites, are preparing for complete security handover from British forces in the coming few days, Iraqi officials said.Fears of Iran role in southern Iraq after US-British pullout
Muwafak Al Rubaei, the National Security Advisor, revealed in press statements that US-British withdrawal plan from nine southern Iraqi governorates is ready for implementation. He also said that the complete security portfolio is going to be handed over to the Iraqi forces soon
The Iraqi army has been unable to confront Shiite armed militias. In the event of the US-British army withdrawal, a void would be created, opening the doors to Iran to extend its influence in Iraqi governorates of the south, the reports noted.
A high-level political debate is going on inside the Supreme Islamic Revolutionary Council on the US-British withdrawal from southern Iraq. The feeling is that the nine governorates will make up the southern-middle province.
I don't pretend to be a military or Iraq expert but it seems pretty obvious that withdrawal of US-British troops from the south will be a pretty telling event for the future of Iraq.
If the Iraqi army takes genuine control (seems unlikely) then there may be hope for unified, centralized government. If the Mehdi army takes control (seems likely), then it's probably only a matter of time before the country gets carved up.