Gunmen assassinated a top aide of anti-American leader Muqtada al-Sadr on Friday, sharpening a Shiite power struggle that has already triggered fighting between the cleric's followers and the U.S.-backed Iraqi government.
Riyadh al-Nouri, director of al-Sadr's office in Najaf, was gunned down by an unknown number assailants near his home after returning from prayer services, police and Sadrist officials said.
Al-Sadr blamed the Americans and their Iraqi allies for the killing but called for calm — presumably to avoid a showdown at a time his Mahdi Army militia is under pressure by Iraqi and U.S.-led forces in Baghdad and southern Iraq. -- AP
One of these times the Sunni are going to screw around and kill al Sadr, who will call for calm then? We are lucky no other lunatic fundamentalist has popped up to try and fill the role al Sadr seems reluctant to fill, that of aggressive holy warrior with a 50,000 man milita.
UPDATE: Wengler in comments, makes a good point. This article is poorly written. al-Sadr doesn't need to avoid a showdown with anyone in the south. They need to avoid one with him. He kicked their ass in the last attempt and presumably would do so again.