Iraq Shia Leaders Sign Truce

The low level "civil war within a civil war" that has been simmering between the two largest Shia militias in Iraq may be over.

Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and the Badr Organization, representing the largest Shia party in Iraq, have been jostling for control of southern Iraq since Saddam was ousted. Lately, their competition erupted into violence and dozens have been killed.

But now the two sides have signed a truce that may lead to a reduction in violence and even more important, more cooperation with the central government
in Bagdad:

In a statement, the two leaders said their aim was to maintain both the Islamic and the national interest.

"The agreement is essentially a commitment of honour," a spokesman for Sadr's group Liwa Sumaysim told Agence France-Presse news agency.

"The most important aspect is that it forbids both sides to engage in bloodletting against each other and against Iraqis in general." A spokesman for Mr Hakim's group, Hamid al-Saadi, said:

"Iraq needs deals between factions to enhance and preserve Iraqi unity." The two leaders also say their groups will co-ordinate their media and cultural efforts.

The BBC's Jon Brain in Baghdad says, if successfully implemented, the agreement will resolve one of the many disputes that make it so difficult for Iraq to achieve reconciliation.
Indeed, if the scenario in the truce plays out, it should relieve Prime Minister Maliki of a gigantic headache. The Badr Organization is the most powerful Shia militia in Iraq and was headed for open warfare with the Mahdi Army. In effect, the agreement solidifies Maliki's back as he tries to affect reconciliation with the Sunnis. At the moment, he doesn't have to worry about the Shia militias making trouble while he tries to heal the wounds in Iraqi society.

And what of the anti-American mullah al-Sadr? As
Ed Morrissey correctly points out, he has been almost completely marginalized by a combination of his own stupidity in walking out of the government and pressure by the US military on his militia. He is still dangerous but as long as Maliki is willing to confront him, he may not be as big a problem as he's been in the past.
The low level "civil war within a civil war" that has been simmering between the two largest Shia militias in Iraq may be over.

Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and the Badr Organization, representing the largest Shia party in Iraq, have been jostling for control of southern Iraq since Saddam was ousted. Lately, their competition erupted into violence and dozens have been killed.

But now the two sides have signed a truce that may lead to a reduction in violence and even more important, more cooperation with the central government
in Bagdad:

In a statement, the two leaders said their aim was to maintain both the Islamic and the national interest.

"The agreement is essentially a commitment of honour," a spokesman for Sadr's group Liwa Sumaysim told Agence France-Presse news agency.

"The most important aspect is that it forbids both sides to engage in bloodletting against each other and against Iraqis in general." A spokesman for Mr Hakim's group, Hamid al-Saadi, said:

"Iraq needs deals between factions to enhance and preserve Iraqi unity." The two leaders also say their groups will co-ordinate their media and cultural efforts.

The BBC's Jon Brain in Baghdad says, if successfully implemented, the agreement will resolve one of the many disputes that make it so difficult for Iraq to achieve reconciliation.
Indeed, if the scenario in the truce plays out, it should relieve Prime Minister Maliki of a gigantic headache. The Badr Organization is the most powerful Shia militia in Iraq and was headed for open warfare with the Mahdi Army. In effect, the agreement solidifies Maliki's back as he tries to affect reconciliation with the Sunnis. At the moment, he doesn't have to worry about the Shia militias making trouble while he tries to heal the wounds in Iraqi society.

And what of the anti-American mullah al-Sadr? As
Ed Morrissey correctly points out, he has been almost completely marginalized by a combination of his own stupidity in walking out of the government and pressure by the US military on his militia. He is still dangerous but as long as Maliki is willing to confront him, he may not be as big a problem as he's been in the past.