al-Sadr Calls Off His Militia?

After a week of bloody fighting in several areas of Iraq, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has apparently made his point, and reportedly shut down the offensive being waged by his Mahdi Army militia fighters.

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It’™s hard to tell what this means, but after a week’™s worth of bloodshed, it appears that cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has instructed his militia to fade into the background once again. This comes on the heels of apparent concessions by the toothless administration of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki:

‘¦ a top aide to Sadr, Hazem al-Araji, said Mehdi Army fighters would not hand over their guns. He also said that Sadr’™s followers had received a guarantee from the government that it would end ‘œrandom arrests’ of Sadr followers.

‘œAs the government of Iraq we welcome this statement,’ Maliki’™s spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said in response to Sadr’™s comments. ‘œWe believe this will support the government of Iraq’™s efforts to impose security.’ ‘¦

So, what’™s the end game here? It’™s difficult to say, but it’™s probably safe to assume that there were pallet loads of American hard currency involved. And, al-Sadr’™s crew made their point: they can disrupt the situation in Iraq anytime, anywhere, on basically a moment’™s notice.

Update: Cernig at Newshoggers has been following the developments in Iraq and is providing running commentary. There’™s a lot of weirdness in the interpretation (and implementation) of al-Sadr’™s demands. The bottom line is that he seems to be negotiating from a position of strength, rather than weakness.

It also occurred to me that Darth Cheney met al-Maliki for tea at the Green Zone Bar and Grille about a week before the Iraqi military offensive started in Basra. Could all of this have anything to do with the fact that Basra is the center of Iraq oil production and exporting? Did Cheney bring instructions with him on his visit? Of course, we’™ll never know, but it’™s certainly plausible.

Sunday, March 30th, 2008 by Richard Blair |
Category: Iraq

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