"Does this make me look menacing.. dangerous, even?"
In a case of "the-enemy-of-my-friend-is-my-enemy-but-actually-he-likes-my-friend-and-hates-me" Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr clarified his threat of war. He proclaimed that his war would only be on the "occupiers" of Iraq (pretty much the Americans at this point). He told his supporters, through a letter read by a top aide, during a Friday prayer in Sadr City, Baghdad that his 'war' would not be directed towards "our Iraqi brothers -- no matter what their nationality, race or sect. The blood of Iraqis are forbidden on you."
So, you see the surge IS working. It is allowing the Iraqi sects and factions to all come together.. in hate of the US occupation force. Not exactly what we were looking for, but a victory is a victory, take it as it comes. Let us not forget that it was the Mehdi Army militia that provided security and bodyguards for current Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki.
Politically al-Maliki has been trying to aid al-Sadr as much as possible in their plan for Shi'ite dominance and close ties to Iran while also trying to seem like a "good guy" for the Bush Administration. The Prime Minister has also been quoted as telling a group of Senators off-the-record that he is working to "kill all these damn troublemakers.. the Sunnis, of course", sounds like a real fair-minded guy.
Something tells me this al-Sadr fellow isn't going to go away under US pressure alone especially with such strong support within the Iraqi government (his movement is backed by about 30% of its legislators and has influence over the Interior and Transport Ministries), the Iranian government (material and spiritual support.. by the boatload), and huge support from Shi'ites allover Iraq who view him as a People's Hero.
Well.. Let's hope his "open war" plan never comes to fruition, because if last weeks skirmishes between the Mehdi Army and US-backed Iraqi troops (before a few hundred of them surrendered their weapons and joined the Mehdi Army) was a preview, it won't go too well for US troops.