Best to go to the source and see how an Iraqi is viewing the current battle:
Last but not least, it’s good to finally hear Maliki acknowledge the danger that Sadr’s militia pose to the country. Saying that Shia militias are “worse than al-Qaeda” signifies the ferocity of the battle and the enormous pressure it applies on the government. It makes me optimistic that the leadership has realized the extent and nature of the threat. In fact I hope that my expectation of a truce that spares the heads of evil proves wrong. Avoiding taking a battle to the end could cost us several times the price in recurrent outbreaks of violence.
While most influential parties seem to be in favor of the crackdown on Mahdi army (including Kurds who view Sadr as an obstacle to establishing the federal system that would grant them control over Kirkuk. Also recall that Masoud Barazani was so vocal in expressing his hostility to Sadr back in late 2003 when he was temporary president of the GC) Sadr’s old ally Ibrahim Jaafari stepped forward to call for an end to the fighting and to accept the Sadrists back in the political process. The statement was described by Maliki’s advisor Sami Askari as “inappropriate and meaningless“.
But ironically a similar call came from Adnan Duleimi of the Sunni Accord Front. In my opinion this came out of Duleimi’s concern about maintaining the balance of power among Shia parties—a Da’wa and SIIC with near absolute power in the center and south would put more power at the disposal of these parties in Baghdad with federalism again being the central issue.
I was going to stop here but now I see that Sadr finally decided to break his silence and make the first public appearance in several months. While the location of the interview remains undisclosed, the fact that he was interviewed by Ghassan Bin Jidou suggests that he’s either in Iran or is enjoying the generous hospitality of his Lebanese twin Nesrallah (can anyone check the recent stamps on Bin Jidou’s passport?).
I want to end this by saying that if we put together Sadr’s words that he’s in control of the Mahdi army and Maliki’s words that Shia militias are worse than al-Qaeda then the logical conclusion should be that Sadr must be dealt with in the same manner in which we deal with terrorist chiefs when we spot them.
I figure one of two things is happening:
1. The Iraqi government and Coalition forces decided to have it out with Sadr and his goons or
2. Sadr and his goons see their power slipping away, and hope a spasm of violence can revive their political prospects.
In either case, this is our chance to finally – and very, very belatedly – deal with Sadr. With AQI on the run and the terrorist networks getting shakier all the time, the final obstacle to a lasting political settlement in Iraq is the Iranian-backed Sadr and his militia. ItM does acknowledge there have been some desertions from Iraqi security forces, but this might just be Sadrist infiltrators showing their true colors as the crisis breaks. In reading this in-country report, the clear impression is that while its a sharp fight, the Iraqi government and coalition forces have the upper hand – and reporting over at Multi-National Force Iraq appears to confirm this view.
All we can do here, of course, is pray for our troops and our allies – truth and justice must triumph in Iraq, and I can’t see Sadr’s rabble beign able to dent the US military nor the Iraqi security forces.