Friday, January 26, 2007
From Juan Cole:
"Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that the Sadr Movement of Muqtada al-Sadr gave its unstinting support to al-Maliki's security plan. It was speculated that this step is an attempt to avoid a confrontatation with US forces. The London daily also confirms that the Sadrists have appointed a negotiator to talk directly to the Americans on behalf of the commanders of the Mahdi Army militia. It says that some Mahdi Army commanders have scattered to Kut, Babil and Taji or even to neighboring countries, and that al-Maliki has avoided having to choose between his American partners and his Sadrist allies by convincing the Mahdi Army to fade away for the moment. It says US ambassador in Baghdad Zalmay Khalilzad expressed concern that gunmen in Iraq may go into hiding during the US "surge," and then reappear when it is over.
I think that is what Gen. Abizaid tried to warn about when he argued against an escalation."
This is in line with Maliki's secret letter to the Mahdi gang, posted here yesterday.