A smart way to figure out what's going on in Iraq is to simply follow photographer Michael Kamber. You'll never get the message between the eyes, because Mike's too smart for that. But, between the image and the caption, you'll get it between the lines. In this case, I thought I'd juxtapose one of Michael's shots from Sadr City yesterday with a shot of events, same day, in the parallel universe occupied by Crock-er and Pet-raeus. (Both images, as well as a few more of Kamber's photos, appeared in yesterday's NYT Pictures of the Day.)
Although the uprising that took place two weeks ago in Basra has been soft-peddled by the media, the Administration and even Clinton and Obama — or simply attributed to trouble making by Iran by way of the evil Mr. al-Sadr (even though it was Iran that pulled the parties apart two weeks ago, and Maliki is closer to Iran than al-Sadr is) — it's looking pretty clear that the violent fracturing of the Shiite factions constitutes a real (shh! shh!) civil war.
But then, who has the audacity to say so, let alone acknowledge that the fighting that broke out in Basra never really ended, but rather shifted to Baghdad where U.S and pro-Maliki Shiites forces, under the banner of the Iraqi Army, are now in a tense, and escalating standoff with the Mahdi faction in Sadr City, a confrontation that is also actively threatening the Green Zone.
Like I said, follow Kamber like a pointer. His caption:
A boy hid from sniper fire in Sadr City near an area of machine gun and artillery fire, and an occasional stray round from snipers hissed through the air. American armored Stryker vehicles and about 30 Iraqi Army vehicles were blocking the street nearby.
U.S.-Iraqi joint operations in inter-Shiite conflict. Build up of heavy armor. Retaliation by sniper. Duck and cover. How sad the only way we can we can jump the news barrier (unless you're reading McClatchy) is by inference.
As Petraeus testifies, Baghdad teeters on edge of erupting (Mcclatchydc.com)
Pictures of the Day, April 8 (NYT Slide Show)
Iraq Civil War series (Charts last 13 days of Iraq's civil war – BAGnewsNotes)
(image 1: Doug Mills/The New York Times. Washington. April 8, 2008. nytimes.com. image 2: Michael Kamber for The New York Times. Sadr City. April 8, 2008. nytimes.com)