LDT: Is there really an Iraqi government?

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Length: 1:42

LOU DOBBS: The Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is incapable of stopping the escalating sectarian violence. One reason may be the close ties between al-Maliki's government and radical Islamists led by the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Michael Ware in Baghdad with our report.

Michael, is the Iraqi government powerless? Is anyone paying any attention to the Iraqi prime minister?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the first question, really, is there an Iraqi government at all? Beyond the office of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his national security adviser, this government is more an alignment of Shia militias than it is any kind of effective administration.

Many of the elements within the ministries dominated by these militias take their cues not from a relatively powerless prime minister who himself does not have men at arms, the currency of political power in Iraq. But they take those cues from their militia leaders and their political party leaders.

Many of them, according to U.S. and British intelligence, backed by Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Quds Force or specialist intelligence officers. So whether anyone's following the directives of the prime minister really is not that much in question.

Maliki is trying to make an imprint on the violence here and on the militias, the fundamental building blocks of this government. Yet, as you can tell with the escalating bloodshed, there is very, very real limits to what power he has -- Lou.