The more that comes out about the Iraqi government’s clash with the Mahdi Army, the more convinced I become that we should NOT have been involved in any way, shape or form. Not only that, our continued presence there will increasingly be used as a craven political tool instead of a force to fight terrorism.

From NY Times:

EVEN if American and Iraqi forces are able to eliminate Al Qaeda in Iraq, there are still three worrisome possibilities of new forms of fighting that could divide Iraq and deny the United States any form of “victory.”

One is that the Sunni tribes and militias that have been cooperating with the Americans could turn against the central government. The second is that the struggle among Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and other ethnic groups to control territory in the north could lead to fighting in Kirkuk, Mosul or other areas.

The third risk — and one that is now all too real — is that the political struggle between the dominant Shiite parties could become an armed conflict.

Fighting is now occurring in southern Iraq and parts of Baghdad between the Mahdi Army, which is under the control of the populist cleric Moktada al-Sadr, and a coalition of forces led by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s Dawa Party and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a powerful party led by a Maliki ally, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. This latter coalition has de facto control of much of the Iraqi security forces, and Mr. Hakim’s group has its own militia, called the Badr Organization.

Much of the reporting on this fighting in Basra and Baghdad — which was initiated by the Iraqi government — assumes that Mr. Sadr and his militia are the bad guys who are out to spoil the peace, and that the government forces are the legitimate side trying to bring order. This is a dangerous oversimplification, and one that the United States needs to be far more careful about endorsing.

Want to know something more disturbing? To get al-Sadr to cooperate, Iraqi officials went into Iran to talk to him. Again, we backed this move by being involved…al-Maliki’s folks going into Iran to negotiate…with the Iranian controlled al-Sadr. And this is just the start of what is sure to be an incredibly complicated and convoluted political mess in Iraq…which will no doubt result in a strong Iraq/Iran tie one way or another. We can’t stop it.

Hell, even Allahpundit doesn’t like what he’s seeing…

I cringe every time I write about Basra since it’s impossible anymore to tell who’s allied with whom and why: Maliki, Sadr, the JAM, the “rogue” JAM, SCIRI, the Iraqi police, and, possibly in cahoots with all of them, Iran.

So what makes more sense…stay in there and be pulled into more power struggles over the upcoming elections or start to draw back forces so al-Maliki knows that he shouldn’t misuse our help?

I think the answer is obvious, because our men and women should NEVER be used to wage intra-Shia wars. Again, this isn’t al Qaeda we’re talking about here, so the threat to our national security is completely nonexistent.

Enough of this nonsense. Time to go.

Politics Basra Power Struggle = Why We Should Leave Iraq