Erick Stakelbeck

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Did Iran Help Secure Al-Sadr's Iraq Truce?

CBN News reported today on radical cleric (and Iranian proxy) Muqtada Al-Sadr's call for a truce between Shiite militias--chief among them his al-Mahdi Army--and Iraqi government forces. Now McClatchey reports that an Iranian general played a key role in the negotiations:

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.

Sadr ordered the halt on Sunday, and his Mahdi Army militia heeded the order in Baghdad, where the Iraqi government announced it would lift a 24-hour curfew starting early Monday in most parts of the capital.

But fighting continued in the oil hub of Basra, where a six-day-old government offensive against Shiite militias has had only limited gains.

So far, 488 people have been killed and more than 900 wounded in the offensive, Iraqi Interior Ministry officials 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.

This brings us back to a recurring problem: the considerable influence of Shiite Iran over the Shiite-dominated al-Maliki government and over Iraqi affairs in general. Many observers were disturbed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad's visit to Iraq last month and saw it as a slap in the face to the Bush administration. Now, the fact that the Al-Sadr truce was apprently brokered by an Iranian general--and that Iraqi lawmakers had to travel secretly to Iran with hats in hand to get it--shows that the U.S. is facing quite an uphill climb in its battle to cleanse Iraq of Iranian influence. Indeed, under the al-Maliki government, this may be a downright impossible task.  Allahpundit at has more essential links and analysis on the Basra offesnive, al-Sadr and Iran.

Print     Email to a Friend    posted on Monday, March 31, 2008 4:00 AM

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