Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Standing In The Way Of Control

Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is trying to regain control over his Mehdi Army militia in Iraq, by ordering it to stop its activities for six months. He's telling his estimated 60,000 fighters not to attack US and British forces, or anyone else for that matter, which certainly sounds like good news.

There's one main reason why al-Sadr's had to do this, and that's Iran. Despite his recent denials that some of his men have been trained, equipped and funded by Tehran, it's widely believed that elements within the Iranian regime have been doing exactly that. Today's development is a tacit admission by al-Sadr that he's lost control of groups of fighters, who seem keener to do the bidding of Iran's Shia clerics. If those men continue to follow Iranian orders, it would be foolishly optimistic to expect much of a reduction in violence.

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