February 23, 2008


After suspense, Iraqi cleric extends truce: In well-planned move, Sadr asserts his rising authority and status. (Alexandra Zavis, 2/23/08, Los Angeles Times)

Everything about Muqtada Sadr's announcement Friday that he was renewing a six-month cease-fire by his Mahdi Army militia appeared choreographed to reinforce his ascent from rabble-rouser to respected Shiite Muslim cleric and political power-broker.

Until the last minute, Sadr kept Iraq on tenterhooks about whether he would extend the truce, which has been credited with helping to reduce sectarian violence and attacks against U.S. forces.

The order to extend the cease-fire for another six months was delivered to loyalist clerics in sealed envelopes and revealed to followers during midday prayers in a flourish highlighting the importance of his cooperation as the U.S. starts to draw down extra troops deployed last year.

In a statement welcoming the announcement, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's office said Sadr's movement was "an essential pillar in the political process and the march toward a new Iraq."

The U.S. military signaled that it was ready for dialogue with Sadr's followers. U.S. officials, who a year ago described Sadr's movement as the single greatest threat to Iraq, have begun referring to him as "the honorable" Muqtada Sadr. They say his cease-fire has contributed to a 60% decline in violence since June.

The America/Mookie alliance has delivered big dividends for everyone but al Qaeda, the Ba'ath, and the anti-Iraq Left, there was never any chance he'd do other than re-up.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 23, 2008 8:58 AM
Comments for this post are closed.