Death Squads

Pam Hess is a great reporter — she covered the Pentagon for UPI and now covers the intelligence community for the AP — and she reports today that a bunch of Iranian-trained "Special Groups" (Mahdi Army side-projects or something) of Shiite militiamen pushed out of Basra by March’s crackdown are heading back. The AP’s blog rules prevent me from quoting too much of her piece, but it’s interesting, so read the whole thing. Basically, Lebanese Hezbollah and Qods Force elements were providing support for the Specials and they’re ready to push back in now that the Basra fight ended (with Iranian intercession, remember). All this is supposed to happen in the next few months, apparently.

So: presuming that Ray Odierno is going to run the same plays as David Petraeus but with 30,000 fewer U.S. troops, will the Iraqi security forces be up to the challenge? You have to figure that next month’s changeover in command, timed with the elections, will be a target of opportunity for all types of anti-American forces.

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Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman