Saturday, October 6, 2007

Shiite Happens

Well, I hope this means something:
Two of Iraq's most powerful Shiite leaders agreed on Saturday to end a bitter rivalry in a bid to end months of armed clashes and assassinations in the oil-rich south that have threatened to spread into a wider conflict.

Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the largest Shiite political party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, promised to stop the bloodshed and enhance cooperation between their two movements.

An official in al-Sadr's office in the holy city of Najaf called the agreement a "fresh start."

Internal rivalries have been rising in recent months, particularly in the southern Shiite heartland where factions have been vying for power as the British military has pulled back to a base at the Basra airport.

The three-point agreement appeared to be aimed at reining in rival militants loyal to al-Sadr and al-Hakim before the fighting erupts into a full-fledged conflict that could shatter the relative unity of the Shiite-led governing apparatus.

It also comes as mainstream politicians from Iraq's majority sect have been trying to bring al-Sadr back into the fold after his loyalists pulled out of the main Shiite bloc last month.

The Sadrists' pullout left the United Iraqi Alliance, which includes al-Hakim's SIIC, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa party and some independents, with only 85 seats—a dramatic drop for an alliance that once held 130 seats in the 275-member parliament.

Sadrist lawmaker Nassar al-Rubaie said the agreement did not change the movement's political opposition to al-Maliki's beleaguered government but was aimed at "preventing clashes between the two groups and reducing the violence hitting the country."

"We have agreed to from joint committees to investigate any friction and to determine the reasons and the people behind it," he said, stressing the need for dialogue. "The success of this agreement will mean less bloodshed."

There is nothing wonderful about the Shiites pulling out of the government but without the militias and resultant threat of violence, this is just politics. Nobody freaks out when a coalition breaks apart in Germany and this should eventually reach the same place.

Here's hoping.

1 comment:

Bill D. Cat said...

This smells like some kind of trap . Maybe this will get a response .