Monday, March 31, 2008

Al-Sadr wins again.

The NYT reports today:

"Iraqis returned to the streets of Baghdad after a curfew was lifted, and the southern port city of Basra appeared quiet on Monday, a day after the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr called for his followers to stop fighting and in turn demanded concessions from Iraq’s government. Mr. Sadr’s statement on Sunday afternoon was released at the end of six days in which his Mahdi Army militia had held off an American-supported Iraqi assault on Basra."

Naturally, the indirect fire raining down on the Green Zone continued unabated, but that's pretty much a given.

In reaction to this news, John McCain told reporters today at a campaign stop over in Meridian, Miss, that he was "surprised" by the turn of events in Iraq. McCain said, "Maliki decided to take on this operation without consulting the Americans. I just am surprised that he would take it on himself to go down and take charge of a military offensive. I had not anticipated that he would do that.’’ [NYT]

How about that, a puppet acting without its master's permission. There is a silver-lining here, though, McCain say "it certainly shows a degree of independence." It turns out, of course, al-Maliki's gambit at independence backfired badly and has left the survival of his government in question.

Ever the optimist McCain said, "Apparently it was Sadr who asked for the ceasefire, declared a ceasefire. It wasn’t Maliki. Very rarely do I see the winning side declare a ceasefire. So we’ll see."

Yeah, we'll see. Maybe part of the reason McCain was so surprised is because he keeps misreading the situation. Al-Sadr hardly backed down, al-Maliki had to run to him to him to put an end to the fighting before it brought down the entire facade of Iraq's democracy.


"[al-Maliki's failed offensive] was a chance for Mr. Sadr to flaunt his power, commanding both armed force and political strength that can forcefully challenge the other dominant Shiite parties, including Mr. Maliki’s Dawa movement and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. . . Mr. Sadr . . . demanded concessions, including that the government grant a general amnesty for his followers, release all imprisoned members of the Sadrist movement who have not been convicted of crimes and bring back 'the displaced people who have fled their homes as a result of military operations.'”

No one knows exactly what the Iraqi government has agreed to do in regard to these demands, but something tells me other parties in the government can read the writing on the wall and are looking to al-Sadr as the man with the power. So, it appears, the "decisive" battle W. was talking about, the fight al-Maliki said he'd fight "until the end," has resulted in a boon for "fiery," "anti-American," "radical" cleric Moktada al-Sadr.

Didn't see that coming.


Post a Comment

<< Home

hit counter script Top Blog Lists Favourite Blogs Top List
My Zimbio
Top Stories