Gareth Porter
Asia Times Online
April 9, 2008

WASHINGTON – A key objective of the Congressional testimony by General David Petraeus this week will be to defend the George W Bush administration’s strategic political line that it is fighting an Iranian “proxy war” in Iraq.

Based on preliminary indications of his spin on the surprisingly effective armed resistance to the joint United States-Iraqi “Operation Knights Assault” in the Shi’ite-dominated southern city of Basra, Petraeus will testify that it was caused by Iran through a group of rogue militiamen who had split from Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army and came under Iranian control.

But the US military’s contention that “rogue elements” have been carrying out the resistance to coalition forces was refuted by Muqtada himself in an interview with al-Jazeera aired on March 29 in which he called for the release from US detention of the individual previously identified by Petraeus as the head of the alleged breakaway faction.

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