So the backstory (Cole most info. on this) is that delegations from PM Maliki’s own party and allied group (Dawa and SIIC respectively) against the Prime Minister it would appear goes to the Holy Seminary City of Qom in Iran (where Moqtada is studying to become an Ayatollah) and makes a deal with him. Sadr sets the terms of the ceasefire and it appears keeps very open the door to violence should his demands not be met. Put a fork in Maliki.
For Robb: “Further, any internal dissension [within the Mahdi Army] that existed before the event due to a ceasefire is now gone.” The key as his analysis always points out is not large scale command and control structures imposed from above–or attempted to be imposed in the case of Maliki–but local power from the street, networked organization, and playing defense as prime strategy.
For the official spin from the right, Ed Morrisey here (“Remind Me Again Who Is Losing Basra?”). Easy answer: Not the guy he thinks.
Even Allahpundit (co-blogger on Hot Air with Morrisey) isn’t buying that line.
It does put an interesting take on this (h/t Obsidian Wings):
Randy Scheunemann, the McCain campaign’s senior foreign policy adviser [said] “Would you rather have the Maliki government in control, or the Iranian-backed special groups in control, or Al Qaeda in control?”
Well given that the Quds Force did broker this deal in Iraq….asking about would you rather have is the wrong question. Better to ask what you do have. The Maliki has never and will never be in control. That fact has been made crystal clear by this episode. The Mahdi Army gains further cred, which means (as Robb points out) any casualties they took in this fight–particularly by standing up to US firepower–will be filled and then some by new recruits. No government in Iraq can gain legitimacy after being installed by the US. Period.