Leila Fadel reports:
Iraqi lawmakers traveled to the Iranian holy city of Qom over the weekend to win the support of the commander of Iran’s Qods brigades in persuading Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr to order his followers to stop military operations, members of the Iraqi parliament said … The backdrop to Sadr’s dramatic statement was a secret trip Friday by Iraqi lawmakers to Qom, Iran’s holy city and headquarters for the Iranian clergy who run the country. There the Iraqi lawmakers held talks with Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Qods (Jerusalem) brigades of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and signed an agreement with Sadr, which formed the basis of his statement Sunday, members of parliament said. Ali al Adeeb, a member of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s Dawa party, and Hadi al Ameri, the head of the Badr Organization, the military wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, had two aims, lawmakers said: to ask Sadr to stand down his militia and to ask Iranian officials to stop supplying weapons to Shiite militants in Iraq. “The statement issued today by (Muqtada al Sadr) is a result of the meetings,” said Jalal al-Din al Saghir, a leading member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. “The government didn’t have any disagreement with the Sadrists when it went to the city of Basra. The Sadrist movement is the one that chose to face the government.” “We asked Iranian officials to help us persuade him that we were not cracking down on the Sadr group,” said an Iraqi official, who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject. He described the talks as successful but said hard-line Sadrists could goad the government into over-reacting and convince Sadr that the true aim of the Iraqi Security Forces is to destroy the Sadrists. “I will not be surprised if the whole thing collapses,” he said.
I see three takeaways from this news. First, it was the government that blinked and not Sadr. Secondly, the Iraqi government turned to Iran and not the US when it needed diplomatic help. Lastly, there is no guarantee that the battle between the government and the Sadr forces is not over. So tell me again – why do we leave US forces in the middle of this mess?
Update: Juan Cole makes several observations as to this recent news but his title really captures the essence:
Iran Brokers Call for Ceasefire; Bush reduced to Irrelevancy in Iraq; Fighting Continues