Thursday, November 30, 2006

Mook to C7, Check

Moqtada al-Sadr proves that he knows a thing or two about how the game of chess is played. In response to a possible intra- (and inter-) sectarian alliance forming at the behest of the Americans in order to clip Sadr's wings a bit, the Mookster is making his own move toward consolidation and fortification.

Radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is building an anti-US parliamentary alliance to demand the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, some of his party's lawmakers have told AFP.

Earlier on Thursday, Salih al-Agaili, a member of Sadr's parliamentary group, said the bloc now hoped to persuade more lawmakers to follow their suspension, adding that some have "started contacting us to take a similar position. We are holding talks with them."

He did not name the groups but said they would soon declare their intentions. "We are endeavouring to form a national front inside parliament to oppose the occupation," Agaili said.

He stressed that the minimum condition for Sadrist deputies to rejoin the government would be "a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces." [...]

Earlier this year, Sadr supporters claimed they had recruited 100 members of the 275-member parliament who wanted to send home the 150,000-strong US force backing Maliki, but this was never put to the test in the chamber.

I don't know how successful Sadr will be in this attempt to create a broad united front in opposition to the alliance being amassed against him, or whether it is yet one more bluff intended to frighten his opponents. But betting against Sadr hasn't been a lucrative endeavor these past three-plus years. He tends to cover spread.

That, and it seems a signal characteristic of the Bush administration to get caught flat-footed when an adversary actually has the gumption to, you know, do something other than sit there like a stooge and take it. A surprisingly common, "no one could have seen that coming" reaction to all-too-predictable counterpunches (see, ie, the formation of an Iraqi insurgency, Iranian interference in Iraq, Shiite assertion of power in contravention of Chalabi-as-king dreams, Sistani's election demands, etc.).

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