Juan Cole brings our attention to an important analytic piece by Patrick Cockburn
in The Independent:
Sunni insurgents have cut the roads linking the city to the rest of Iraq. The country is being partitioned as militiamen fight bloody battles for control of towns and villages north and south of the capital.
Well-armed Sunni tribes now largely surround Baghdad and are fighting Shia militias to complete the encirclement.
The Sunni insurgents seem to be following a plan to control all the approaches to Baghdad. They have long held the highway leading west to the Jordanian border and east into Diyala province. Now they seem to be systematically taking over routes leading north and south.
Dusty truck-stop and market towns such as Mahmoudiyah, Balad and Baquba all lie on important roads out of Baghdad. In each case Sunni fighters are driving out the Shia and tightening their grip on the capital. Shias may be in a strong position within Baghdad but they risk their lives when they take to the roads.
As Cockburn points out, right now they can't do much. But if the US withdraws, then they can cut food and fuel to Baghdad.
Of course, if the US were to have withdrawn, that might bring Iran in, so it's not clear that this conclusion follows.
Then there's Dahr Jamail on al Anbar.
A member of the Fallujah City council says:
"We have no role to play because the Americans always prefer violent solutions that have led from one disaster to another."
Violent solutions to no avail:
...Despite the punishing tactics of the occupation forces, people appear unwilling to cooperate with local officials or the U.S. military against local fighters.
"Iraqis believe firmly that U.S. ambassador (Zalmay) Khalilzad is the actual ruler of the occupied country despite the repeated comedy of transfers of sovereignty to Iyad Allawi, Ibrahim al-Jaafari and now Noori al-Maliki's governments," a senior leader of the Arab National Movement in Iraq, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS.
"Yet, that does not mean that the U.S. embassy has real control, as long as there are resistance fighters who are firmly holding the Iraqi streets in Sunni areas, and militias with their death squads controlling the rest of the country as well as the huge oil market."