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Two of the major Shi'ite factions in Iraq have agreed on a deal to end the Shi'ite insurgencies that have fueled the death and destruction in Baghdad. The Dawa and Sciri parties have thrown down a gauntlet to both Moqtada al-Sadr and the Sunni parties that have backed their own insurgents:
Two of the senior Shia political leaders in Iraq agreed in principle to crack down on death squads within their own ranks yesterday. The rival Shia factions struck the deal in an attempt to salvage the country from collapse, said Haidar al-Abadi, a Shia MP in the Dawa party, who is close to Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister.
The Dawa and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri) agreed that the national unity Government had been rendered impotent by the failure of the Shia coalition to take on militants who have been killing Sunnis and fuelling sectarian strife.
The Sunni parliament bloc has backed extremist groups that are killing Shias. The violence backed by the two camps has led to many experts calling the conflict in Iraq a civil war.
Last night a delegation was on its way to the shrine city of Najaf intent on convincing the anti-Western cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army militia is blamed for much of the widespread killing of Sunnis, to join the crackdown. Officials close to Hojatoleslam al-Sadr said he had agreed to rejoin the Iraqi Government.
It appears that Nouri al-Maliki has just about run out the string in Baghdad. Even the Dawas appear to have lost patience with Maliki, a bad sign for the beleaguered Prime Minister; there appears to be no other reason why Maliki would forsake Sadr for Abdul Aziz Hakim. It also portends some dark days for Sadr, if he doesn't agree to go along with the program. So far, the Dawas and Sciri speak only of the "criminal elements" that have infiltrated the Mahdi Army, but is Sadr resists, they may shift from elements to leadership. Maliki's agreement with his former opponents in Sciri appears to be a last resort for his hold on power, and it looks like he finally got tired of relying on Sadr for his political muscle.
This agreement will put more pressure on the Sunnis to respond in kind. The Shi'ite militias, after all, arose as a response to the original Ba'athist remnants attempting to extend their reign of terror after the fall of Saddam, and the Sunni political parties have done little since then to stop it. Perhaps the Sunnis now understand that the continuance of the insurgencies puts them at risk of annihilation by the Shi'ites if Iraq descends into civil war. If they haven't up to now, they should, and they should take this opportunity to calm the waters.
If this agreement holds, it could represent the first break in the political logjam that has fueled the insurgencies and the destruction in Iraq. A temporary alliance between Maliki and Hakim that marginalizes Sadr can only be good news for everyone. It's just too bad that it took this long for the Dawas and Sciri to divorce Maliki from Sadr.Sphere It View blog reactions
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