ANTI-DEMOCRATIC TRANSFORMATION. Following on Doctor Robert's post, while I agree with Rob's statement that "the strategy of allying with Sunni tribes amounts to a renunciation of U.S. state-building aims in Iraq," I'd also add that recent developments in President Bush's Middle East policy, most notably the $65 billion in arms going to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, amount to a renunciation of Bush's entire program of democratic transformation in the region, and a reversion to "realist" policies of the past.
"I'll admit, the New York Post is a guilty pleasure. It's the first paper I buy whenever I'm in the city. Like most of its readers, I take it for what it is, and enjoy it for a few minutes on the subway. It's fun and understands its role as a tabloid, which is to say, it has a sense of humor. One of the best Post headlines was a front-page spread showing Yasir Arafat's grieving wife at his funeral: "THE FAT LADY SINGS."
MUQTADA CALLS A TIME OUT. The big news from Iraq is that Muqtada al-Sadrhas ordered his militia to stand down, though he has stated they will continue defensive operations against the occupation forces. Muqtada's image has suffered greatly from the perception among Iraqis that elements of his Mahdi Army incited the violence we saw earlier in the week. Starting a fight at the birthday observances of the imam after whom your group is named doesn't speak well of your piety, which is one of the strongest things he has going for him, so he has to do some serious damage control.