Whither Al-Sadr?

1 comment February 11th, 2008at 06:59pm Posted by Eli

It’s not The Surge, it’s The Ceasefire:

Influential members within the movement loyal to Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have told him they do not want his Mehdi Army militia to extend a ceasefire when it expires this month, Sadr’s spokesman said on Monday.

The U.S. military says the Shi’ite cleric’s announcement on August 29 to freeze the activities of the feared Mehdi Army for six months has been vital to cutting violence. A return to hostilities could seriously jeopardise those security gains.

(…)

Recent statements from Sadr’s camp have indicated growing unhappiness that followers were being targeted by Iraqi forces.

(…)

[Sadr spokesman Salah al-Ubaidi] said Sadr would issue a statement around February 23 if he had agreed to extend the ceasefire, declared following clashes between his supporters and police during a pilgrimage in the southern city of Kerbala. Silence would mean it was over.

“Either he will announce the extension of the freeze or he won’t say anything. If he keeps silent, that means the freeze has come to an end,” Ubaidi said, without saying exactly how it would be known the truce had formally ended.

Sadr, who led two uprisings against U.S. forces in 2004, ordered the Mehdi Army to observe the ceasefire so he could reorganise the splintered militia. Up to then, Mehdi Army fighters were often involved in fierce clashes with U.S. troops or violence with Sunni Arab groups.

The Pentagon once described the militia as the greatest threat to peace in Iraq, a term now reserved for Sunni Islamist al Qaeda in Iraq.

An extended ceasefire by the Mehdi Army is seen as key to maintaining security gains in Iraq, where attacks have fallen by 60 percent since the middle of last year.

Assuming that al-Sadr is savvy enough to follow American politics, and assuming that his primary objective is to get US forces out of Iraq, then he has to realize that a successful The Surge is not in his best interests, as it clearly benefits the campaigns of John “Hundred Years War” McCain and the Stay-In-Iraq-Forever caucus. This probably does not bode well for our troops, or for any Iraqis caught in the crossfire when al-Sadr decides to make The Surge look like a horrible mistake.

Alas, there’s a good chance that al-Sadr could end up as disappointed with the Democratic Party as we antiwar progressives are. But at least a Democratic White House and a solidly Democratic Congress would make withdrawal a possibility.

(h/t Phoenix Woman)

Entry Filed under: Iraq,War

1 Comment

  • 1. glassenglish  |  May 5th, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    pretty And grapes, to ramble with a off acorns every my days


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