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August 6, 2004
Moqtada al-Sadr, The John Kerry Of Iraq

Radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr executed a flip-flop on his part-time insurgency again, this time within 24 hours, which has to be a record of some sort. The New York Times reports that less than a day after initiating armed insurrection -- again -- and getting the worst of the battle -- again -- Sadr appealed for a truce with Iraqi and American security forces ... again:

The radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr called for a national uprising against American and allied troops Thursday morning, then backed off near midnight after a day of fighting between his guerrillas and American and Iraqi forces. ...

One American marine and several insurgents were killed in Najaf, where marines fought alongside Iraqi policemen and National Guard troops. At least a dozen more soldiers and dozens of insurgents were wounded in both Baghdad and Najaf, though exact casualty counts were unavailable late Thursday night.

Near midnight, Mr. Sadr offered a tentative cease-fire, saying his guerrillas would stop fighting if American soldiers did the same, according to a spokesman for the group. The offer would renew a two-month-old truce between Mr. Sadr and the American military, a truce that had appeared on the verge of crumbling earlier Thursday.

Sadr seems determined to either make himself the greatest figure of indecision since Hamlet or patterns himself after a certain American politician who cannot make up his mind what he wants. As late as a week ago, Sadr appeared to invest himself in the new Iraqi political structure that has coalesced in Baghdad and the Allawi interim government, condemning a wave of terrorist attacks against Christian churches. This week he's back to being an insurgent, up until his nose gets bloodied, and then he wants to return to a political role.

Unfortunately, Sadr's time has passed. Iraqis may have considered him a brave if hotheaded figure of resistance to foreign occupation in the spring, but now that the interim government is in place, all that most Iraqis want is a return to normalcy. Sadr and his minions interfere with that process every time Sadr's hormones fly out of control and he starts attacking Iraqi police stations, as he did over the past week to re-ignite his Mahdi uprising. Those Iraqis who support armed struggle to the death against foreign troops now line up behind Zarqawi and his Islamofascist ideology, where even Sadr doesn't go, and the vast majority of Shi'ites in Iraq have made clear through their indifference to Sadr that they far prefer Ali al-Sistani's moderate leadership.

Sadr himself may sense that his time may be growing short and that his radicalism will win him few converts in a democratic and pluralistic Iraq. Unfortunately, Sadr shows absolutely no ability to think strategically, and even tactically he makes a better cleric than a general. All the Mahdi army will do under his leadership is die in highly disproportionate numbers while Sadr dithers in the mosque.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 6, 2004 7:37 AM

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Enough is enough. Al Sadr is wanted by the Iraqi government for charges stemming from the murder of a rival cleric. He was given a free pass by not being detained two months ago when the fighting hit a peak before Al Sadr called off his militia. Al S... [Read More]

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