Mahdi Army Surrenders - Authorizes Iraqi Government To Disarm Fighters
It seems the Mahdi Army in Sadr City has surrendered - completely:
Followers of rebel cleric Muqtada al Sadr agreed late Friday to allow Iraqi
security forces to enter all of Baghdad’s Sadr City and to arrest anyone found
with heavy weapons in a surprising capitulation that seemed likely to be hailed
as a major victory for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.
In return, Sadr’s Mahdi Army supporters won the Iraqi government’s
agreement not to arrest Mahdi Army members without warrants, unless they were in
possession of “medium and heavy weaponry.”
The agreement would end six weeks of fighting in the vast Shiite Muslim
area that’s home to more than 2 million residents and would mark the first time
that the area would be under government control since Saddam Hussein was toppled
in 2003. On Friday, 15 people were killed and 112 were injured in fighting,
officials at the neighborhoods two major hospitals said.
It also would be a
startling turnaround in fortunes for Maliki, who’d been widely criticized for
picking a fight with Sadr’s forces, first in the southern port city of Basra and
then in Sadr City.
Members of Maliki’s Dawa Party and the powerful Islamic
Supreme Council of Iraq met with Sadr officials on Thursday and Friday to come
up with a 14-point agreement to end the weeks of fighting, …
What is interesting is how this sudden capitulation comes one day after aids to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr lashed out at the top Shiite cleric in all of Iraq and basically claimed he shared the guilty for the deaths in Sadr City because he had sided with Maliki and the US forces. This was an astounding and dangerous step for Sadr to take. Was this act of defiance too much for the powers to be, which decided it was time to end the fighting? Was Iran getting nervous about the building fire power the US was gathering in the region with the addition of another Carrier Group?
Go read the whole thing.