BAGHDAD -- Iranian officials helped broker a cease-fire agreement Sunday between Iraq's government and radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, according to Iraqi lawmakers.
The deal could help defuse a wave of violence that had threatened recent security progress in Iraq.
The goal is not just to defuse violence it is to rid Iraq of Muqtadr, and end violence though WINNING a real peace.
It also may signal the growing regional influence of Iran, a country the Bush administration accuses of providing support to terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere.
Al-Sadr ordered his forces off the streets of Iraq on Sunday. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki hailed al-Sadr's action as "a step in the right direction." It was unclear whether the deal would completely end six days of clashes between U.S.-backed Iraqi forces and Shiite militias, including al-Sadr's.
Osama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni lawmaker who oversaw mediation in Baghdad, said representatives from al-Maliki's Dawa Party and another Shiite party traveled to Iran to finalize talks with al-Sadr.
Iran has close ties with both al-Sadr's movement and al-Maliki, who spent several years in exile there. Al-Nujaifi said the agreement was brokered by the commander of Iran's al-Quds Brigade, which is considered a terrorist organization by Washington.
The Iranians don't want the militias who they control wiped out.
Why would the Iraqi govt agree? Why would we go along except to arrange to get out of town quietly?