Good news came from Iraq this weekend – the best news for the US, probably, since Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the prince of al-Qaeda in Iraq, was killed by a US air strike in June 2006.
The two rival clerics, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim and Muqtada al-Sadr, who control the Iraqi Shi’ite community, have decided to lay down their arms and unite their efforts to bring stability and security to Iraq.
Hakim leads the powerful Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC), which controls the Badr Brigade. Sadr leads the Mahdi Army, a massive militia that controls the slums and poorer districts of Baghdad. Hakim is popular among the educated Shi’ite elite, the middle-class, and affluent business community. He is backed by both Iran and the United States. Sadr reigns among the young and the poor and is backed by grassroot Iraqis.
The two men, who control two very powerful militias, have been sniping at each other since the downfall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003. This single reconciliation development – if carried out as planned – can truly help end the violence, more so than all the conferences, debates, and proposals laid out since 2003. If united, the two militias can help eradicate al-Qaeda in Iraq. All they have been doing for the past 4 years, however, is fight one another for control of the Shi’ite street. [complete article]