Al-Sadr Extends Cease Fire

Rick Moran
Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr will extend the cease fire between his Mahdi Army and American forces according to sources:

Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his followers to prolong their Mahdi Army militia's ceasefire for another six months Friday, after seeing a dramatic reduction in violence in Iraq.

Shiite imams in mosques across south and central Iraq opened sealed letters from the Sadrist movement's leader and read his statement to supporters after Muslim weekly prayers on the half-year anniversary of the truce.

The decision to maintain the ceasefire was immediately welcomed by relieved US commanders, who once saw the Mahdi Army as the greatest threat to the future of Iraq but now hope Sadr can be a stabilising influence.

"I prolong the freeze in the activities of the Mahdi Army until the 15th day of the month of Shabaan," Sadr said, using the Islamic calendar to indicate that the ceasefire will continue until at least August 16.
No, our buddy Mookie is not doing it for us. He is doing it because he has no choice. He knows full well the capaibility of the US armed forces and also knows that if he were not to have extended the cease fire, we would have made he and his militia the number one target for elimination.

His only hope is to try and obtain power through the political process. To that end, he is negotiating a return to the government - both his cabinet ministers and members of the Iraqi parliament.

Bill Roggio speculates about some other motives:


By calling off the cease-fire, Sadr risked reigniting the violence in Iraq, which has dropped dramatically since last summer. Sadr risked alienating Iraqis as well as exposing his real level of support in the Shia community. The Iraqi government had the option of declaring the Mahdi Army and the Sadrist movement as illegal groups, and barring Sadrist politicians from running for political office.
 
In addition, Sadrist Movement politicians have been renegotiating a return to Maliki's government after it survived their April 2007 protest walk-out over long-term security agreements with the US. And Sadrist legislators had been lobbying for recently passed legislation that hastens provincial elections, believing they can challenge their Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq rivals in southern Iraq through democratic means. Both of these political developments contradict and would be imperiled by any return to hostilities.
It is probable that not all of his commanders will obey the cease fire. If so, they will be doing us a favor by identifying themselves. That will lead to their destruction - which is probably what Mookie has in mind anyway.

My read is that al-Sadr is probably overestimating his support among the Shias. He still has a power base in the health ministry where is able to dole out patronage jobs and portray himself as a politician concerned for the people's welfare. But Iraq has moved on in the last year and al-Sadr has misread the people and government so many times that his judgement can be called into question. He no longer has the juice to upset parliament or the cabinet with his walkouts and protests. And the hope is, after the provincial elections next fall, he will be marginalized except in the south where his power will be curtailed by the ISCI. That powder keg must be watched closely lest it explode and cause enormous problems for the government.

The cease fire is welcome news and assures a continuation of the slow and steady progress in Iraq.

Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr will extend the cease fire between his Mahdi Army and American forces according to sources:

Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his followers to prolong their Mahdi Army militia's ceasefire for another six months Friday, after seeing a dramatic reduction in violence in Iraq.

Shiite imams in mosques across south and central Iraq opened sealed letters from the Sadrist movement's leader and read his statement to supporters after Muslim weekly prayers on the half-year anniversary of the truce.

The decision to maintain the ceasefire was immediately welcomed by relieved US commanders, who once saw the Mahdi Army as the greatest threat to the future of Iraq but now hope Sadr can be a stabilising influence.

"I prolong the freeze in the activities of the Mahdi Army until the 15th day of the month of Shabaan," Sadr said, using the Islamic calendar to indicate that the ceasefire will continue until at least August 16.
No, our buddy Mookie is not doing it for us. He is doing it because he has no choice. He knows full well the capaibility of the US armed forces and also knows that if he were not to have extended the cease fire, we would have made he and his militia the number one target for elimination.

His only hope is to try and obtain power through the political process. To that end, he is negotiating a return to the government - both his cabinet ministers and members of the Iraqi parliament.

Bill Roggio speculates about some other motives:


By calling off the cease-fire, Sadr risked reigniting the violence in Iraq, which has dropped dramatically since last summer. Sadr risked alienating Iraqis as well as exposing his real level of support in the Shia community. The Iraqi government had the option of declaring the Mahdi Army and the Sadrist movement as illegal groups, and barring Sadrist politicians from running for political office.
 
In addition, Sadrist Movement politicians have been renegotiating a return to Maliki's government after it survived their April 2007 protest walk-out over long-term security agreements with the US. And Sadrist legislators had been lobbying for recently passed legislation that hastens provincial elections, believing they can challenge their Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq rivals in southern Iraq through democratic means. Both of these political developments contradict and would be imperiled by any return to hostilities.
It is probable that not all of his commanders will obey the cease fire. If so, they will be doing us a favor by identifying themselves. That will lead to their destruction - which is probably what Mookie has in mind anyway.

My read is that al-Sadr is probably overestimating his support among the Shias. He still has a power base in the health ministry where is able to dole out patronage jobs and portray himself as a politician concerned for the people's welfare. But Iraq has moved on in the last year and al-Sadr has misread the people and government so many times that his judgement can be called into question. He no longer has the juice to upset parliament or the cabinet with his walkouts and protests. And the hope is, after the provincial elections next fall, he will be marginalized except in the south where his power will be curtailed by the ISCI. That powder keg must be watched closely lest it explode and cause enormous problems for the government.

The cease fire is welcome news and assures a continuation of the slow and steady progress in Iraq.