The Christian Science Monitor reports that the U.S. is “closing in on a deal” with Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the insurrection in at least three towns in southern Iraq. The coalition’s previous position has been that it wants to kill or capture Sadr. But now, according to the report, the plan is to co-opt him, by engaging him politically and perhaps even integrating his militia into the Iraqi national security forces.
Our sense has been that the correct approach to Sadr is to crush him militarily. Doing so would both send the correct signal and eliminate a force with huge potential to disrupt Iraq in the future. However, we understand both the need for flexible solutions based on the “facts on the ground” and our own lack of knowledge of these facts. One can imagine a set of facts under which it might make sense to attempt to co-opt Sadr. I just hope that our government, looking for a quick fix (at best) as the June 30 “handover” date approaches, is not imagining that set of facts.
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