From the Associated Press:

Iraqi Prime Minister Says No Retreat

"BAGHDAD (AP) Iraq's prime minister vowed Thursday to fight 'until the end' against Shiite militias in Basra despite protests by tens of thousands of followers of a radical cleric in Baghdad and deadly clashes across the capital and the oil-rich south.

"Mounting anger focused on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is personally overseeing operations against the militias dominated by Muqtada al-Sadr's supporters amid a violent power struggle in Basra, Iraq's southern oil hub.

"The Iraqi leader made his pledge to tribal leaders in the Basra area as military operations continued for a fourth day with stiff resistance.

"'We have made up our minds to enter this battle and we will continue until the end. No retreat,' he said in a speech broadcast on Iraqi state TV."

Defining Moment?

Is this where the Maliki government finally emerges?

Or is this the end of a brief window of relative tranquility during which we all optimistically imagined a happy ending?

Either way, my sense is that we stand on the brink of a major turning point.