Muqtada al-Sadr may call for a monthlong unilateral cease-fire amid the formation of a new political coalition in Iraq. Sadr is set to meet Thursday with key Shiite political leaders and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to discuss his role, or lack thereof, in the changing political landscape.


AP via Yahoo!:

As violence rages across Baghdad and much of Iraq, a new coalition taking shape among Shiites, Kurds and one Sunni party is seen as a last-ditch effort to form a government across sectarian divisions that have split the country. While al-Sadr’s movement would not be part of this coalition, such an alliance — which reportedly is supported by the Bush administration — might pressure the radical cleric to soften his stance.

In Thursday’s meeting, the group wants to assure al-Sistani that the new coalition would not break apart the Shiite bloc, said officials from several Shiite parties. Potential members of the coalition said they have been negotiating for two weeks, and now want the blessing of al-Sistani, whose word many Shiites consider binding.

The movement is backed by the U.S. government, said Sami al-Askari, a member of the Dawa party and an adviser to [Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki.

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