Iraqi troops pushed deep into Sadr City yesterday, the New York Times reports. They did so, moreover, without the support of U.S. troops. In fact, the Iraqi forces were not even accompanied by American advisers, though American helicopters provided reconnaissance during the operation.
This Iraqi success follows the government’s successful offensive in Basra. According to the Times, that operation “seems to have pacified that city and restored government control,” at least “for the time being.”
The next step in Sadr City will be searches by the Iraqi army for hidden weapon caches. The “general view,” says the Times, is that the Mahdi Army has already moved its weapons and senior leadership out of Sadr City and is content to let the Iraqi Army search the area.
The governnment’s back-to-back successes in areas previously controlled by Shiite militias should go a long way towards establishing its authority and towards promoting political reconciliation with the Sunni population. For their part, the Sunnis, with our aid, have pretty much routed al Qaeda.
Only the U.S. Congress, or an Obama presidency, seems capable of reversing the current virtuous cycle in Iraq.