Apparently reports of the Mahdi Army getting its collective ass kicked by the new Iraqi Army are on the money:
The political movement of Iraqi cleric and militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr said it would end a two-month boycott of parliament on Sunday, smoothing over a rift with its Shiite allies in the U.S.-backed government.
Darth Sadr seems to blow with the wind, cutting from the government whenever he thinks he can do better on his own. But after he gets knocked around for a while he always comes back to the table. Seems to Murdoc that this is direct evidence supporting a policy of knocking around the bad guys more than we have been lately. We aren’t quite to the “kiss and make up” stage in Iraq yet.
The fact that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki seems to have decided to go after the militias is a large factor.
The first “surged” troops won’t enter the fight until around the end of the month, but the “surge” already seems to be working. Earlier reports had al Qaeda fighters ordered out of Baghdad before additional US forces arrive.
Murdoc’s guess is that the slight change in course, back to a slightly more offensive posture, has as much to do with these successes as any additional troops will. The fact that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki seems to have decided to go after the militias is a large factor, as well.
The Sadrists announced a boycott late last year to press their demand for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and to protest against a meeting between Maliki and U.S. President George W. Bush.
Late last year it appeared to many that a US-withdrawal deadline was a real possibility, so the Sadrists probably decided to pull back and wait it out. Now, in fact, the exact opposite seems to have happened, and they’ve got no choices left besides either playing along or fighting it out. Fighting it out didn’t appear to be working so well, so Sadr’s back at the table.
He must have been feeling some heat and is hoping that calls for his death will subside if he appears to be playing along.
UPDATE: Just noticed this via Milblogs: Al-Sadr Thinks He Is Being Targeted, Moves Family to Safe Place.
(It may surprise you folks, but Murdoc almost never looks at FoxNews.com unless linked there from elsewhere…)
Al-Sadr said that 400 of his men had been arrested and that he is also being targeted, prompting him to move his family to a secure location, the Italian daily La Repubblica reported…
“For this reason, I have moved my family to a secure location. I even have had a will drawn up, and I move continuously in a way that only few can know where I am,” he was quoted as saying by Repubblica.
It seems that Sadr is taking this latest push and “surge” seriously. As well he should, as his primary defender, Prime Minister Maliki, no longer seems on his side.
From a comment on Milblogs:
Also, note the (approving?) silence from Sistani, who stepped in twice before to save Sadr.
For all the necessity of military victory against the militias, terrorists, and thugs, the key to peace will be when enough folks jump aboard the bandwagon. It’s hard to tell right now, but things certainly seem to have taken a drastic change in the past month or so.