Crossfire War – Heaviest Fighting in a Month in Baghdad-Sadr City

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Crossfire War – Rapid Fire News=Tehran – Baghdad – Damascus Watch – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – El Arish – Damascus – Beirut – Ramallah – Gaza – Baghdad/London – Washington – Jerusalem – Cairo – Amman – Paris – Rome; Baghdad – Sadr City Experience Heaviest Fighting in Month – Hamas Ultimatum to Israel – Georgia Laughs Off Reports of War – Russia Sends Stages Air Violations – Foreign Embassies Reduce Staff in Tbilisi

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Night Watch: SADR CITY – Baghdad and Sadr City have experienced their heaviest fighting in a month, since the latest wave of war began when Tehran had Iraq Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki begin the Iraq Army offensive in Basra. That offensive in late March was made without consultation from Washington but al-Maliki realizes his security is more guaranteed through Tehran and now, with Iran’s preparations over, it is time for (f)allout war to begin and the removal of Western military forces and bases in the region. Swissinfo/Reuters report Shia militias, ignoring Muqtada al-Sadr’s Friday call for calm, used another sand storm as cover to launch a large attack on a U. S.-Iraq Army checkpoint in Sadr City.

At the same time there were multiple rocket attacks on the International Green Zone where foreign embassies and government buildings are based. Though Muqtada al-Sadr is the nominal head of the Mahdi Army it is in reality an extension of Iran’s military, like Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and it is quite possible Tehran is having him issue calls for calm just to portray him as a responsible leader and a force for stability as a way of preparing for his role in post-war Iraq. [SWISSINFO]

al-Sadr is fully aware Tehran is having the war intensify as Washington has its United Nations Ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, accuse Iran in front of the Security Council, “The recent clashes between armed militias elements and Iraqi government forces in Basra and Baghdad have highlighted Iran’s destabilizing influence and actions.” It is an action that is going to increase as M-1 Abrams tanks had to be called in again to fight off the attack. I would not be surprised if Tehran has sent the militias anti-tank weapons. The reason U. S. forces are so heavily engaged is indicated by the admission of Iraq Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, the “militias have infiltrated the state, the society.” More and more I am seeing reports of only U. S. forces involved in the fighting and fewer reports of Iraq Army units in action which is exactly what Tehran wants.

Gaza – The Jerusalem Post is reporting Hamas has issued what amounts to an ultimatum by demanding Israel accept the proposals made through negotiations in Cairo or else Israel will be faced with “unprecedented escalation.” Supposedly Hamas and twelve Palestinian factions have agreed to a series of proposals, regarding their combative relations with Israel, but for the sake of propaganda have gone through the motions of trying to find a negotiated settlement with a country they have pledged to destroy. They are acting on Iran’s timetable and this was something to do as Hamas and Palestinian militants made more preparations for war as they waited for the word from Tehran to attack Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. But Hamas will soon realize the Israel Defense Force (IDF) will no longer be restrained by Ehud Olmert as he is under serious fraud investigations. His replacement will be more aggressive. [JPOST]

Kodori Gorge – RIA reports the Abkhazia government in Sukhumi, in the South Caucasus on the Black Sea, is claiming to have shot down two more surveillance drones sent by Georgia. The Georgian government in Tbilisi is calling the charges “absurd.” Sukhumi is also claiming Georgia has positioned 7,500 troops on the Abkhazia border in the Kodori Gorge the scene of a two year military standoff. Though Tbilisi has made no secret it wants to re-take the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which seceded from Georgia when the Cold War ended in 1990, I don’t believe Georgia would want war now but that they were hoping NATO membership would increase their chances of re-taking the areas. Brussels-NATO deliberately misled the Georgian government as NATO sits on the sidelines watching Moscow send units into Abkhazia, which are not defensive, and stage these incidents using surveillance drones. [RIA]

Abkhazia has now placed its troops on high alert as Russia is prepared to enter the war in the name of coming to their defence, it is only a question of how Moscow wants the shooting to get started. According to the Abkhazia Foreign Minister, Sergei Shamba, the troops were ordered into alert status by President Sergei Bagapsh but in reality Bagapsh is controlled by Moscow as are these drones. The Russia Foreign Ministry has issued this statement, “By resorting to the adventurism of sending surveillance drones and stepping up military preparations in the conflict zones, Tbilisi has knowingly embarked upon the path of raising tensions in the region. The responsibility for the consequences of such a course lies with Georgia.”

Tbilisi – RIA reports the Georgian government has responded to these charges and war preparations with laughter. Georgia’s Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze replied, “The Georgian leadership advises the anonymous representative of the Russian security agencies…to take a few drops of valerian (herbal sedative). However, Georgian doctors believe that valerian will not be potent enough and they would be better off taking valium.” But to Moscow this is no laughing matter as Russia is now stating Georgia “with the participation of foreign experts” had prepared a plan for “armed action” in the next few days. And that the plans involve “the seizure of vital installations in Abkhazia’s coastal areas.” The statement also said, “A number of foreign embassies in Georgia were preparing to evacuate their staff from Tbilisi.” [RIA]

The issue in this South Caucasus regional theatre is the control of the vast oil and gas resources between the Black and Caspian Sea and I suspect Moscow’s reference to “foreign experts” could be the assistance Georgia has been receiving from Turkey-Iran for the past few years ever since most of the fighting ended further north in Chechnya and Dagestan between Russia and Islamic groups supported by Ankara-Tehran. And this is why the West only pretended to support Georgia. Industrial services, led by Berlin, have long used Russia to guarantee the constant flow of resources from the Caucasus to the West. The enormous amount of state revenue Moscow receives from its energy sales to the West has been financing Russia’s military reforms under President Vladimir Putin and that makes possible Moscow’s ability to control once again this resource rich region.

Neither Ankara-Tehran will commit any units in support of Tbilisi and Tehran is already prepared to accept Russia’s rule and regional cooperation with Moscow after the war. Recent high level meetings between Moscow-Tehran late last month said exactly that.

Willard Payne is an international affairs analyst who specializes in International Relations. A graduate of Western Illinois University with a concentration in East-West Trade and East-West Industrial Cooperation, he has been providing incisive analysis to NewsBlaze. He is the author of Imagery: The Day Before.