Sunday, May 20, 2007

Good news in Iraq?

Unsurprisingly for a foreign policy whose main point of consistency is its subservience to the law of unintended consequences, the Iraq escalation surge may actually be working, sort of.

Ostensibly intended to give the Iraqi government breathing room (or at least vacation time) in which to seek the political compromises EVERYBODY recognizes to be necessary to a reasonably peaceful Iraq, the surge may be assisting one of the militias we are ostensibly battling.

But while the ineffectual government appears no closer to resolving the differences between the various factions in Iraq, another group is, Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.

From the Washington Post:

The 33-year-old populist is reaching out to a broad array of Sunni leaders, from politicians to insurgents, and purging extremist members of his Mahdi Army militia who target Sunnis. Sadr's political followers are distancing themselves from the fragile Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which is widely criticized as corrupt, inefficient and biased in favor of Iraq's majority Shiites. And moderates are taking up key roles in Sadr's movement, professing to be less anti-American and more nationalist as they seek to improve Sadr's image and position him in the middle of Iraq's ideological spectrum.

"We want to aim the guns against the occupation and al-Qaeda, not between Iraqis," Ahmed Shaibani, 37, a cleric who leads Sadr's newly formed reconciliation committee, said as he sat inside Sadr's heavily guarded compound here.

Whether Sadr can be successful in his attempts to reach out to Sunnis is far from a settled question. But given that his Mahdi Army, now lying low during the American surge in order to let the US do his dirty work for him, represents the largest indigenous Iraqi military force and holds sway over a far larger portion of Iraq than does the Iraqi government which can barely govern the heavily barricaded Green Zone, little less the rest of the country, Sadr's initiative needs to be taken seriously.

But should Sadr be successful one wonders how the US will react. Would we continue to support the beleaguered Iraqi government against a combined Sadrist-Sunni force?

Would we want to?

Or, will BushCorp™, desperate to extricate itself from this quagmire of its own making, accept a new strongman to replace Saddam?

Should it?

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