Wednesday :: Feb 20, 2008


by Turkana

In December, it was clear that reports of the "surge" working in Iraq were vastly overstated. At the beginning of this month, there were ominous signs that things were getting worse. The key has always been the unilateral cease-fire, called by Moqtada al-Sadr, but that looked to be ending, in late January. Well, guess what...

A few days ago, Agence France-Presse had this bad news:

Radical Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's movement Sunday announced it was cancelling a pact it signed four months ago with its main Shiite rival aimed at reducing tension between the two groups.

The agreement between the Sadrists and the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) of Abdel Aziz al-Hakim "has failed and is cancelled," Nassar al-Rubaie, spokesman for the Sadr bloc in parliament, told AFP.

The two groups, which have clashed repeatedly in the past as each sought control of Iraq's majority Shiite community, signed a pact last October 6 aimed at ending the violence between their two militias.

So, the Iraqi civil war may soon get much worse. With our troops caught in the middle, and our presence in Iraq fueling it. But that's not all. The Associated Press is now reporting:

Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has threatened to lift by the end of the week a six-month cease-fire widely credited with helping reduce violence in Iraq, officials said Wednesday.

Sheik Salah al-Obeidi, a spokesman for al-Sadr in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, said that if the cleric failed to issue a statement by Saturday saying that the cease-fire was extended "then that means the freeze is over."

The cease fire was declared in August and due to expire at this month's end.

Al-Sadr's Mahdi Army is among the most powerful militias in Iraq. The crux of the message being sent by the organization was that al-Sadr followers would be free to resume their activities if no message was sent by the cleric on Feb. 23.

So, while we're all focused on last night's big wins for Barack Obama, and the possibly determinant March 4 primaries in Ohio and Texas, the date we really should be focused on is Saturday. Because if al-Sadr doesn't renew his cease-fire, the Iraq War will soon be again exploding in unfettered fury. And a lot more people will suffer and die.

Turkana :: 1:22 PM :: Comments (47) :: Digg It!