Thursday, August 19, 2004

Sadr's dilemma

Now that Muqtada has been cornered in the shrine of Imam Ali huddled with what is left of his militia and 'human shields', he agrees to the three conditions set by the National Conference to get him out of the trouble he put himself into. To abandon the holy shrine, to disarm Al-Mahdi and retreat from Najaf, and to turn it into a political organisation. The official agreement from Sadr's office in Baghdad was read today at the National Conference and sparked some hope for a peaceful end to the crisis in Najaf.

10 members from the National Conference met yesterday with Sadr's aides at the shrine. Sadr did not meet with them personally due to 'security reasons', although I doubt he had left the shrine under the circumstances. Two of his family members were among the delegation, Hussein Al-Sadr (his father's cousin) and Ruha Al-Sadr (his maternal aunt). News reports last night mentioned that the negotiations failed with the delegation returning to Baghdad which lead to the announcement by the Minister of Defence this morning to resume 'decisive' military operations. Sadr seemed to have changed his mind, as usual, in the afternoon and voiced his agreement to the conditions provided all military operations cease in the city. The Defence Minister mentioned that operations would resume tomorrow if the conditions were not carried out immediately.

I'm not very optimistic to tell the truth.

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