Earlier today, the highest-ranking Sunni in Maliki’s Iraqi government called on his fellow Sunnis to rejoin the government so they can help to “save Iraq:”
The Sunni leader has been one of al-Maliki’s most bitter critics, accusing him of sectarian favoritism, while the prime minister has complained that the vice president is blocking key legislation.
But al-Hashemi and other Sunni leaders apparently have been swayed by al-Maliki’s crackdown against Shiite militias that began late last month and focused on the feared Mahdi Army of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
As we and others have said, Maliki’s attack on the Sadrists was a vital step toward a unified Iraq. American media, clueless as usual, focused mostly on the facts that American authorities were notified only shortly before the operation began, and a small percentage of Iraqi troops performed poorly. They thereby missed or downplayed the main story.
Muqtada al Sadr, meanwhile, has recanted his “final warning” to the Iraqi government, claiming that he was misunderstood:
The Shiite cleric on Friday called for an end to Iraqi bloodshed, saying his threat of an “open war” applied only to U.S.-led foreign troops.
Things are obviously going badly for Sadr. Maliki now refuses to end the crackdown on the Mahdi Army until his conditions are met; the key condition is that the Sadrists surrender their weapons.
Taken together, these events represent the best news from Iraq in a long time.
UPDATE: I missed this yesterday, but it’s well worth reading: “Esteem for US rises in Asia, thanks to Iraq war”.