Meanwhile from: TODAY IN IRAQ….
Cabinet ministers and legislators loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr were instructed to end their six-week boycott of the political process,…the group’s return was conditional, including demands that the government set up a committee to establish a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and a second that would set a date by which Iraqi forces were to take control of security nationwide.
Mahdi Army commanders were reported to have held a meeting recently to outline their strategy to counter the U.S. military campaign. The commanders had orders not to resist U.S. troops as part of their own strategy to preserve their weapons and power in preparation for the post-U.S. era in Iraq. Moqtada, who is Mahdi Army’s chief commander, is reported to have instructed the militias to behave in a manner that will not lead to the loss of “even a single Mahdi Army member.”
Mahdi Army militia members have stopped wearing their black uniforms, hidden their weapons and abandoned their checkpoints in an apparent effort to lower their profile in Baghdad in advance of the arrival of U.S. reinforcements. “We have explicit directions to keep a low profile . . . not to confront, not to be dragged into a fight and to calm things down,…” Mahdi Army militiamen say that while they remain undercover now, they are simply waiting for the security plan to end.
Meanwhile: Residents of Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, are at risk of contracting a range of waterborne diseases as the city’s sewage system has collapsed after four days of heavy rain,….”As the sewage system has collapsed, all residents are threatened with gastroenteritis, typhoid fever, cholera, diarrhoea and hepatitis. In some of Baghdad’s poor neighbourhoods, people drink water which is mixed with sewage,” Ali said.