March 22, 2007

A Deal Is Done

This is interesting. US forces have released Moqtada al Sadr's #2 aide in reponse to a request from Iraq's perpetually "embattered" PM al-Maliki. Sadr's aide was detained by the US for two years despite an Iraqi court finding him innocent. So a significant deal has been done, but what's really going on here?

Al Sadr has been in hiding while the US makes a show of razing his ghetto patch in Baghdad, killing and arresting "hundreds" of his supporters. Al-Maliki relies on Sadr's political support, but he was forced to support the US crackdown. So I can see how this deal would help cement al-Maliki's ties with Sadr. But what's in it for the US?

How does this sound: Bush wants a military surge for his own political PR purposes (knowing that militarily it will be insignificant). He presses al-Maliki to co-operate, identifying Sadr as (once again) the public face of evil, again just for PR purposes. Al-Maliki makes a deal with Sadr: save your ass and lie low till this dies down, and in return I will get your #2 aide back to you. Bush gets his "surge", al-Maliki maintains his power base, and Sadr gets his man.

Colorin colorado? Does this signal an end to the "surge" in Sadr's district?

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