Michael Totten

Sadr Cries Uncle?

A shaky truce has been called between the U.S. and al-Sadr’s insurgency.

NAJAF, Iraq – Iraqi officials and aides to a radical Shiite cleric negotiated Friday to end fighting that has raged in Najaf for nine days, after American forces suspended an offensive against Muqtada al-Sadr’s militia. Al-Sadr’s aides said he was wounded by shrapnel, but Iraqi officials said the cleric was involved in the talks.

I have no idea what they’re talking about, obviously. None of us do. It’s possible that al-Sadr is giving it up because he is afraid and knows he’ll be destroyed if he doesn’t. (Especially if he really is wounded.) That might not be what’s happening. I really don’t know. But one thing I do know is that the U.S. military isn’t afraid of any defeat. Sadr and his boys aren’t that tough. Their only choices were to fight to the death or cry uncle. Looks to me like they chose the latter.
The potential problem here is that Sadr and his gang are calling a hudna, a truce in a moment of weakness, in order to regroup and fight again later. If that’s the case this truce has no value from our point of view. A pause in fighting is not an end to fighting, and there’s no point deluding ourselves that this is over unless Moqtada al Sadr is negotiating the terms of his surrender.