Friday, Mar. 19, 2010

August 2004
Peace Breaks Out?

"Iraq has achieved a victory today. No more fights"

Qasim Dawood, an Iraqi minister of state, as quoted in The Washington Post, rejoicing at the peace deal ending the fighting in Najaf

After a ceasefire is brokered by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most influential Shi'ite leader in Iraq, three weeks of intense fighting in Najaf between U.S. forces and Shi'a militia of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ends in late August. U.S. forces and al-Sadr's Mahdi army withdraw. Najaf and Kufa become weapons-free zones, and Sadr, who had been wanted by the former U.S. occupation authority on murder charges, is allowed to participate in political activities. Many Iraqi and U.S. officials will come to regret the deal, as Sadr and his Mahdi Army will remain one of the country's most destabilizing sectariain elements for years to come.