Monday, March 31, 2008

Iraq - Sadr Surrenders?

Yesterday Moktada al-Sadr called for his militia to stop fighting Iraqi government forces, and many are viewing this as a surrender on his part, but is it?

In return for the return of the cease fire Sadr is demanding an end to raids, the release of his followers who have been arrested and is refusing to disarm. If it is a surrender it is hardly unconditional. Actually I think that if the government gives in to these demands it is a victory for Sadr and his followers.

According to NPR they are already portraying it that way. According to Lourdes Garcia Navarro she was escorted to Sadr's headquarters in Sadr city by Iraqi policemen, who essentially admitted they were allied with Sadr, and once there told that Sadr's forces were celebrating their great victory. Apparently no one told them al-Sadr had surrendered. (No audio yet I will try for it later today).

If the Iraqi government lets this stand I am not sanguine about the chances of a stable secular society forming. If however they hold the line I think al-Sadr and the Mehdi army will be defeated and one of the final impediments to reconciliation will have been removed.
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