Bad news? The Iraqi regime's moment of self-assertion came yesterday when it had finally had enough. The prime minister issued an order — not to the Mahdi Army or any other militia group that has contributed to growing instability — but to U.S. troops:
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki demanded Tuesday that the United States military remove all of its roadblocks and checkpoints from the streets of Baghdad, challenging a crucial strategy of the American security plan for quelling violence in the capital.The checkpoints had also been established to help the search for a missing U.S. soldier.
Mr. Maliki’s public proclamation appeared to take American commanders by surprise.
By nightfall, American troops had abandoned several positions in eastern and central Baghdad established last week as part of a search for a missing American soldier. The roadblocks and checkpoints had been blamed by Iraqis for snarling traffic throughout the eastern part of the city.