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Deadly Car Bomb Targets Shiite Neighborhood

Hours after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki vowed to find militants in Baghdad Thursday, a car bomb shook the capital city and two rockets struck the Green Zone. New York Times reporter Damien Cave discusses the latest violence.

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    Damien Cave, welcome.

    Even as the new Bush strategy for Iraq is being debated in the U.S., the prime minister in Baghdad has announced that he's got one, too, Operation Imposing Law.

    What's the plan?

  • DAMIEN CAVE, The New York Times:

    The plan is — from what we can tell, is very similar to what the Americans have offered.

    He hasn't gone into too much detail, but the main point that he's trying to make here is that the Iraqis are in control of whatever it is that ends up happening in Baghdad with the security plan.


    Is the prime minister declaring that, at the end of this process, his government will have a monopoly on the use of armed force in Iraq?


    He's made — he's made no claims like that, in terms of getting actual complete results and disarming gunmen.

    His main focus and his main promise has been to go after people of both sects, and to basically not let anyone who breaks the law get away with it, and be protected by their affiliation of tribe or sect or connections to power, which is something of a more ambitious promise than things that he's made in the past.

    The big question, of course, is whether or not he will follow through. Similar questions have been made before, and, in some cases, they have been less than completely dedicated to the actual enacting of those problems.


    So, is he implying there that he's even ready to fire on or disarm the Mahdi army?


    Like many — many people, including, in some cases, the Americans, the specific naming of the militias is not something that he would want to do very often.

    He has shown evidence and discussed, recently, raids and arrests of several people who are connected to Shiite militias of various sorts. And he's been arguing for weeks now that this idea of an Iraqi government that doesn't function, and that does not try to do its best to hold people to the law, regardless of sect, is inaccurate.

    And he has provided some evidence of that, suggesting that, if he continues on this trend, it may be something of a shift, or at least an expansion, to something that's broader than what he's done in the past, in terms of going after Shiite militias and the Mahdi army.

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