The Associated Press reports that the Mahdi Army is splintering, with an unknown number of its members breaking off under the direction of Iran:
The violent Shiite militia known as the Mahdi Army is breaking into splinter groups, with up to 3,000 gunmen now financed directly by Iran and no longer loyal to the firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr….
The AP story contains quite a bit of detail on the current state of the “army,” which has divided in part because of Moqtada al Sadr’s defection to Iran. The AP confirms that he has been there since early last month, leaving many of his supporters feeling deserted.
The disorientation and fragmentation of the Mahdi Army described by the AP sounds like good news–it certainly would be reported as bad news if disparate groups were coalescing into a single, coordinated insurgent entity–but the AP emphasizes that the development “add[s] a potentially even more deadly element to Iraq’s violent mix.”
The splintering of the Mahdi Army is just one of many consequences of the current “surge.” For a realistic account of how things are going, tune in to Glenn and Helen’s interview of Michael Yon.