and the cease-fire may be called off as well.
Iraqi government forces and Shiite militia fighters clashed anew Tuesday despite a government ultimatum to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to either disband his Mahdi Army or give up politics.
Meanwhile, security forces were reported to be blocking al-Sadr's supporters from traveling to Baghdad from outlying areas to attend an anti-U.S. rally scheduled for Wednesday.
Two aides in al-Sadr's office in the holy city of Najaf told The Associated Press that the rally had been canceled. They spoke on condition of anonymity pending an official announcement.
Al-Sadr had called for a "million-strong" protest to mark the fifth anniversary of the capture of Baghdad by U.S. troops. It was seen by many observers as a show of force in his confrontation with the government over calls to disband his Mahdi Army militia.
As everyone knows, Petraeus will be speaking today to Congress. You have to read this interview with Juan Cole to understand the level of lies that will come out today.
In short, Iran wants the status quo -- which is pretty much what the United States wants, too. So why shouldn't the U.S. just work out the most harmonious way of achieving that goal by talking to the Iranians? That, in fact, is just what Gause argued the United States should do in his testimony before Congress. But the Bush administration, in thrall to its neoconservative ideology, will never conduct serious negotiations with Iran. Indeed, it seems to be too ideologically blinkered, or incompetent, even to realize that Iran and the United States have a significant shared interest in Iraq.
"The thing that I see in Iraq is an unwillingness to let those processes play out," Cole said. "Instead, we insist that we have to have military bases in Iraq and make sure that U.S. petroleum companies have a favorable negotiating position. I have a sinking feeling that the two of them, the Americans and the Iran-backed militia, are going to sink what's left of Iraqi democracy in the south. They're going to set the stage for major violence. As usual, Cheney and Bush are shooting themselves in the foot."