Sunday, March 30, 2008

Well, That Was Quick

No sooner had I written below that al Sadr would not push an uprising in Iraq than he should wave the unofficial French flag and sue Maliki for peace.


Perhaps our MSM's reports of an Iraqi Army quagmire in Basra were a trifle premature. The offensive in Basra and the response to Sadrist uprisings in Baghdad have resulted in several hundred Mahdi Army casualties. And now Sadr has ordered his militia off the streets and sued for a cease fire. This from the Washington Post:

Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr Sunday ordered his armed militia to get off the streets in Basra and to cooperate with the government to restore security. In exchange, he asked the government to release prisoners and declare an amnesty.

The Iraqi government quickly welcomed the comments as a move toward restoring calm.

A spokesman for the government, Ali al-Dabbagh, said on state-run Iraqi television that the government considered Sadr's statement a "positive step."

He repeated government assertions that the military operations in Basra were not aimed at Sadr's followers. "We expect all those who claim that they are followers of the Sadr movement to heed this call and those who do not shall be treated as outlaws and criminals."

In his statement, Sadr made the offer in exchange for the government stopping "random, illegal raids and arrests." He also called on the government to declare a general amnesty and to release prisoners taken during the fighting, especially his followers.

Sadr's statement stopped short of directing fighters to turn over weapons to Iraqi security forces, which has been a key demand of the government.

The move came after Sadr over the weekend told his supporters to ignore the government's orders to disarm.

. . . Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who launched the offensive Monday against armed groups, vowed "to stand up to these gangs in every inch of Iraq."

Maliki denied accusations that the Iraqi government was trying to undermine political rivals before provincial elections this year. "We came to Basra to fight the outlaws and the smugglers, not to confront a party or a political group, because we do not seek political confrontation," he said.

. . . Sadr, speaking in a television interview aired Saturday, said the Iraqi government "is far from the people and is dealing with them in a dictatorship way." He also said his militia's "strategic objective" was "the liberation of Iraq from the occupier."

In the interview, Sadr called for a demonstration April 9 against the U.S. occupation of Iraq. He also rejected accusations that he was being supported by Iran, saying, "I am an independent in that I am not a political or military extension to Iran or any others." . . .

Read the entire article. Maliki would be as foolish to stop now as the U.S. was in allowing Sadr to survive in Najaf in 2004. Unfortunately, Sadr is somewhere in Iran, far from coalition crosshairs at the moment. None-the-less, Maliki needs to disarm Sadr's militia in Basra and establish government control. Now is not the time to blink.

1 comment:

MK said...

That bastard does it all the time, starts a fight, then when he's just about to get his ass handed to him, calls for a timeout and he has somewhere else to be. Notice he didn't order them to hand over the weapons. Unless the Iraqi leadership takes them from him, they'll have to do this all over again soon.