Truce In Baghdad Seems To Hold

When additional American forces were deployed to Iraq, many of them were assigned to the impoverished neighborhood called Sadr City, where the Mahdi Army (Jaish al-Mahdi, or “JAM” in American military shorthand) has been attempting to establish itself as the decisive security force that can protect and provide for the people. JAM is a Shi’ite militia that claims to fight for the protection and well-being of Shi’a Iraqis everywhere. This position became more and more difficult to maintain over the summer, as JAM went head-to-head with the American forces patrolling the Baghdad neighborhoods. After months of bloody fighting, the Mahdi Army began to loose the confidence of the people it sought to “protect.” Too many civilians were dying, and the majority of the deaths were the result of indiscriminate tactics used by the militias, such as roadside bombs and suicide attacks. So, when the US commander in the area, Lieutenant-Colonel Jeffrey Sauer, reached out to JAM’s leader, the charismatic Moqtada al-Sadr, and offered a truce, it was not a complete shock when Sadr accepted.

That was three months ago, and the truce seems to be holding. It’s an important step, and should be celebrated for the small victory it is.

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