Saturday, May 10, 2008

Fighting in Sadr City Ending?

In a move the should curtail violence within rocket range of the Green Zone, Moqtada al Sadr's people have agreed to allow Iraqi troops into Sadr City. Provided they no longer arrest members of the Mahdi army without warrents. The deal hinges on heavy weapons. Maliki's troops are to restrict themselves to searching for heavy weapons (Rocket Launchers, Mortars, and Artillery, etc.)

It also would be a startling turnaround in fortunes for Maliki, who'd been widely criticized for picking a fight with Sadr's forces, first in the southern port city of Basra and then in Sadr City.

Members of Maliki's Dawa Party and the powerful Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq met with Sadr officials on Thursday and Friday to come up with a 14-point agreement to end the weeks of fighting, which has hindered the flow of food and water into Sadr City. The agreement was then passed to Sadr and Maliki for final approval, said Baha al Araji, a Sadrist legislator.

Hundreds of people have been killed and hundreds have been wounded in the fighting, which included frequent U.S. airstrikes. At least 8,500 people have been driven from their homes, and thousands of others have been forced to stay inside, too frightened to flee.

A government supporter said the Sadrists were brought to the table by the anger of Sadr City residents. On Thursday, the Iraqi military ordered Sadr City residents to evacuate in apparent preparation for a major offensive push.

"It is not the government who pressured the Sadrists into entering this agreement," said Ali al Adeeb, a leading member of the Dawa party. "It is the pressure from the people inside Sadr City and from their own people that will make them act more responsibly. -- McClatchyDC

Once more it's Sadr that has made a deal. Once more he shows he is control of the game.

Can we go home now?