Basra: Defining Moment?

What just happened in Iraq?

A week ago, prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and central government troops charged into the southern oil port of Basra, vowing to clean up the town and laying down a tough deadline for rogue militiamen to surrender their arms.

President Bush hailed the move as bold and necessary, “a defining moment” for Iraq.

Then, in what seemed like minutes, the rogue militia threw Maliki out on his ear. Anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr was calling the tune.

We glimpsed some truths that are hard to understand.

This hour, On Point: what did just happen in Iraq?


Ned Parker, a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times in Baghdad.

Barry Posen, director of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is also a professor of political science

Juan Cole, professor of Middle East and South Asian History at the University of Michigan, he’s the author of “Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East” (2007) and “Sacred Space and Holy War: The Politics, Culture and History of Shiite Islam” (2002).

Reuel Marc Gerecht, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where his work focuses on Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, he served as an advisor to the Iraq Study Group, and is the author of “The Islamic Paradox: Shiite Clerics, Sunni Fundamentalists, and the Coming of Arab Democracy” (2004).

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