The Washington Post loves the idea of a pliant Iraqi state under the American security umbrella. Meanwhile, the Sadrites seem to be maneuvering away from electoral politics to the nationalist anti-American position. A new phase in the Shiite civil war may be imminent:

"We don't want anybody to blame us or consider us part of this government while it is allowing the country to be under occupation," said Liwa Smeisim, head of the Sadr movement's political committee. The announcement came as Iraqi officials deployed tens of thousands of security forces across southern Iraq in response to the creation of the new Sadr group. The new secret paramilitary wing, which Sadr called "the special companies," might start launching attacks within the next week, his aides said.

In the holy city of Najaf, officials said 20,000 Iraqi soldiers and police officers were being put on high alert and deployed to protect the Imam Ali shrine and the grand ayatollahs. They said an additional 17,000 security forces were deployed in and around the nearby holy city of Karbala. And in the eastern city of Amarah, a stronghold of the Sadr movement, Iraqi forces massed in preparation for an operation against Shiite militiamen.

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