Baraka & Ahmed Alaskary
February 16, 2007
politically and on the ground in Iraq point to possible
genuine progress in dealing with the current security crisis.
Sadr, head of the Mehdi army and a large bloc in parliament,
is giving signals that he may be willing to negotiate or
compromise as forces begin the latest security crackdown.
Sadrist bloc did agree to end their prolonged boycott and
return to parliament. Their return occurred despite the
arrest of a top aide to Moqtada, Sheik Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji
by Iraqi and US forces. The Sadr faction also gave unanimous
approval to the Prime Ministers latest security proposal
in parliament. On top of this, the recent arrest of the
Deputy Health Minister Hakim al-Zamili, accused of diverting
millions of dollars to the biggest Shiite militia and allowing
death squads the use of ambulances and government hospitals
to carry out kidnappings and killings, is a symbol of the
new no-nonsense approach by Nouri Maliki. These events are
significant on two levels:
1. There are
finally some concrete actions by Nouri Al-Malikis
government to follow-up on its previous verbal commitment
to the Maliki-Bush plan. The arrest of Hakim al-Zamili and
Sheik Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji is a clear and powerful message
on the part of the Prime Minister on how he wishes to deal
with militias who do not respect the rule of law.
2. It shows
a clear shift in position on the part of Moqtada, who seems
to be more willing to work within the political process.
While some suggest this change of heart is due to his realisation
that many sections of the Mehdi army are increasingly operating
outside of his control, further dialogue and cooperation
still remain the best way to deal with him and his militia.