McClatchy Washington Bureau reports a possible agreement between the militias, and with the Iraqi government:
Followers of rebel cleric Muqtada al Sadr agreed late Friday to allow Iraqi security forces to enter all of Baghdad’s Sadr City and to arrest anyone found with heavy weapons in a surprising capitulation that seemed likely to be hailed as a major victory for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.
In return, Sadr’s Mahdi Army supporters won the Iraqi government’s agreement not to arrest Mahdi Army members without warrants, unless they were in possession of “medium and heavy weaponry.”
The agreement would end six weeks of fighting in the vast Shiite Muslim area that’s home to more than 2 million residents and would mark the first time that the area would be under government control since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003. On Friday, 15 people were killed and 112 were injured in fighting, officials at the neighborhoods two major hospitals said.
Members of Maliki’s Dawa Party and the powerful Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq met with Sadr officials on Thursday and Friday to come up with a 14-point agreement to end the weeks of fighting, which has hindered the flow of food and water into Sadr City. The agreement was then passed to Sadr and Maliki for final approval, said Baha al Araji, a Sadrist legislator.
Hundreds of people have been killed and hundreds have been wounded in the fighting, which included frequent U.S. airstrikes. At least 8,500 people have been driven from their homes, and thousands of others have been forced to stay inside, too frightened to flee.
Sadr supporter Araji, however, said the agreement specifically barred American forces from entering Sadr City.
The agreement probably will not be released for awhile as appears to happen most often. But the jockying of military and political forces in a ‘soft’ sort of skirmish campaign will probably be the order of the day if all are lucky.