One month after the launch of Operation Cavalry Charge...
Deborah Haynes of the The Times becomes the first western journalist to see the situation in Basra with her own eyes, exactly one month to the day since the launch of Operation Cavalry Charge. She is taken along on a tour of Hayyaniya of all places by Gen. Fraiji, who's been described by some anonymous British military sources in earlier media reports as a "dangerous lunatic"; oddly enough, he doesn't come off that way in Haynes' piece.
Haynes paints the picture of a city that has undergone dramatic changes for the better.
Radio Dijla is reporting that the Emiratis have handed over Ismail al-Wa'ili, the brother of Basra's governor, who is wanted by an Iraqi arrest warrant on charges of oil smuggling and other criminal activity. I had heard that he was hiding in Kuwait rather than Dubai ever since Operation Cavalry Charge began. The story of the arrest warrant is true but I'm unsure about the handover, but if it checks out then that's an indication that Maliki is also moving against the Fadhila Party.
Another criminal kingpin who was once affiliated with the Sadrists, Sattar al-Bahadili, was also arrested a couple of days ago.
And in other news, Muqtada al-Sadr backs down once again, calling upon his supporters to be the "nation of peace" as well as the "nation of Islam" in a communique read out during Friday prayers today. I wonder why al-Sadr keeps shying away from an "open war": clearly he's hasn't gone pacifist all of a sudden, so it must be something else. No, no, it can't be that he's much, much weaker now due to a variety of factors; no, that can't be it because the 'experts' have been telling 'reporters' that al-Sadr is still the most formidable force on the Iraqi scene, and we all know that those 'experts' and the 'reporters' who quote them know what they're talking about.
Can someone get an online petition going to goad the New York Times and the Washington Post into sending a reporter to Basra? Isn't about time to get a first hand account out of a place that made front-page news all throughout last month?