The entire episode underlines how powerful Iran has become in Iraq. The Iranian government had called on Saturday for the fighting to stop. And by Sunday evening it had negotiated at least a similar call from Sadr (whether the fighting actually stops remains to be seen and depends on local commanders and on whether al-Maliki meets Sadr’s conditions).
Al-Sadr’s statement is translated here. The main points:
‘ We have decided the following:
1. Cancel the armed manifestation in Basra and all over the governorates.
2. Stopping the illegal and random raids and arrests.
3. Demanding the government to apply the General Amnesty law and release all the prisoners that was not proved to be guilty and especially the prisoners of Sadr movement.
4. We announce our innocence from any one who caries the weapon and target the government and services apparatuses and establishments and parties offices.
5. Cooperating with the government apparatuses in achieving security and condemn criminals according to the legal procedures.
6. We assure that the Sadr movement doesn’t have any heavy weapons.
7. Working on returning the displaced people that moved due to security events to their original places.
8. We are asking the government to take care of the Human rights on all of its procedures.
9. Working on achieving the constructional and services projects all over the governorates.
[Signed and stamped Muqtada Sadr 22/Rabi Awal/1429]’
The NYT notes the irony here that the al-Maliki government is dependent on Muqtada al-Sadr to pull its fat from the fire:
‘Many Iraqi politicians say that Mr. Maliki’s political capital has been severely depleted by the campaign and that he is now in the curious position of having to turn to Mr. Sadr, a longtime rival and now his opponent in battle, for a solution to the crisis.’
The main thing the mini-uprising illustrated, Mr. Maliki is running the country largely in name only. Things can get bad if Sadr (who is reputedly hanging/hiding in Iran) wants to make it so.
Sadr, h0wever, is currently playing the saint (hoping to become an “Ayatollah“), and will be happy biding his time until the occupation ends.