I’m writing, of course, about Moqtada al-Sadr.
He and his Mahdi army have been powerful forces and power brokers for a long time.
Was violence down in Iraq in 2007? Yep, but not because of the “surge.” It’s because al-Sadr declared a cease fire.
Is violence suddenly back up in Iraq? Yes, because offshoots from al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army are fighting again. And here’s the kicker: if they keep fighting, al-Sadr becomes more powerful in the minds of Iraqis; if they stop fighting because al-Sadr commands them to stop, al-Sadr becomes more powerful in the minds of Iraqis.
The trouble with a lot of American news is they set everything up from the point of view of the American military or American politicians. Reading the news with Moqtada al-Sadr in mind, it’s easy to see how from an Iraqi point of view, he’s becoming more and more powerful.
Frankly, I think he’s winning not only the war but the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. Maybe the US should start negotiating with him.