Friday, March 16, 2007
For U.S. and Sadr, Wary Cooperation
The Washington Post
"BAGHDAD -- U.S. troops are conducting security sweeps in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City for the first time in three years, part of a revamped plan to pacify the capital. Yet the Mahdi Army militia of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has not risen up to fight them, despite U.S. raids on militia members' homes and growing Sunni attacks on Shiites.
"Until now, our leader has ordered us to keep quiet," explained Ayad al-Khaby, a local official in Sadr's organization. "This is in order for the security plan to succeed."
After four years of hostility, Sadr and the Americans are cooperating uneasily as the United States and Iraq attempt to tame Baghdad's sectarian violence. American officials, who in recent months described Sadr's Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias as the biggest threat to Iraq's stability, now praise the Shiite cleric.
The collaboration represents a remarkable shift for two adversaries who control the largest armies in Iraq and who fought some of the fiercest battles since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
For Sadr, it is the latest stage in an evolution from populist cleric to guerrilla fighter to political kingmaker and now to power broker. In the early months of the occupation, U.S. officials dismissed Sadr as irrelevant to Iraq's future. Today, they view him as a political catalyst who can help keep Iraq together -- or implode it.
"We're very encouraged by what we're seeing on the ground right now in Sadr City," said Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, the U.S. military's chief spokesman in Baghdad. "There is a tremendous amount of cooperation and dialogue ongoing. It's proven to be very beneficial to both sides."......"
Muqtada Sadr: What a coward and a collaborator. He is a tough guy with his drill team when it comes to terrorizing and killing Iraqis and Palestinians in Iraq and when it comes to ethnic cleansing. When it comes to fighting the occupation, all his empty rhetoric has finally yielded to this: open collaboration with the occupiers and the killers of over 600,000 Iraqis. Now he is hiding somewhere, probably in Iran, wearing a woman's 'abaya!
Mahdi "army": Celebrate Now, you cowards!