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By Mohammed Baraka & Ahmed Alaskary
February 16, 2007

Political Progress

Recent developments politically and on the ground in Iraq point to possible genuine progress in dealing with the current security crisis.

Moqtada Al 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.

Recently the 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 Minister’s 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-Maliki’s 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.

 

© 2007 Iraqi Prospect Organisation
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