Sadr Cuts a Deal
Posted on Mar 30, 2008
Moqtada al-Sadr, after reaching an agreement with several Iraqi officials, has ordered his followers to stop fighting. Basra has reportedly quieted, but fighting continued in Baghdad despite the announcement. Underscoring Iran’s influence over the affairs of its neighbor, the deal was apparently brokered by the head of Iran’s Quds force, which the U.S. Congress has branded a terrorist organization.
The fighting in recent days has been described as a test of wills between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Sadr. The announcement of a brokered agreement adds weight to the view that Maliki will emerge from the conflict weakened.
New York Times:
The substance of Mr. Sadr’s statement, released Sunday afternoon, was hammered out in elaborate negotiations over the past few days with senior Iraqi officials, some of whom traveled to Iran to meet with Mr. Sadr, according to several officials involved in the discussions.
Still, though fighting was reported to have died down by late afternoon in Basra, it continued in Baghdad, including heavy combat by Iraqi and American troops and aircraft in the Mahdi Army stronghold of Sadr City, casting uncertainty on the deal.
The negotiations with Mr. Sadr were seen as a serious blow for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who had vowed that he would see the Basra campaign through to a military victory and who has been harshly criticized even within his own coalition for the stalled assault.
The BBC says a strict curfew in Baghdad has ended because of the deal.
USA Today reports that a prominent Iranian official oversaw the negotiations.