The Puppet Becomes A Real Boy

Maliki is calling the shots in Iraq now.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered the removal of U.S. and Iraqi military checkpoints from Sadr City Tuesday, according to his office.

The order came after a general strike ordered by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadral-Sadr shut down the sprawling Shiite slum.

Most shops, schools and government buildings there were closed for the day.

The order pertains to all entrances of Sadr City and says they must be reopened by 5 p.m. (9 a.m. ET), according to al Maliki’s office.

For the last week, U.S. and Iraqi troops have imposed checkpoints at the main entrance to Sadr City, while conducting raids in their search for an American soldier kidnapped in central Baghdad on October 23.

Al-Maliki’s orders were being assessed, a U.S. military spokesman said. They came just days after al-Maliki told U.S. officials he answers first to the Iraqi people and that he was not “America’s man in Iraq.”

“If the prime minister has concerns about checkpoints we will respond to those wishes appropriately,” he said, but added checkpoints are part of the Baghdad security plan and will continue to be part of the Baghdad security plan.