Now that the inevitable peace deal between the American forces and Sadr’s Mahdi army appears to have been reached, amounting to restoration of the status quo ante
, can anybody provide a coherent rationale for Bremer’s decision to drive Sadr into revolt in the first place, by closing his newspaper and arresting his supporters? The assault on Fallujah was bound to be a disaster, but it’s not surprising that the Americans felt impelled to take some drastic action in response to the killing and mutilation of US contractors there. But the attack on Sadr seemed gratuitiously stupid, even more so than the disbanding of the army and the banning of the Baath party.
Tacitus, still taking the view that “failure is not an option in Iraq” is naturally furious about the deal . But any realistic analysis of the planned election must recognise that Sadr has enough support to make him a powerful force. He may not be a particularly attractive character, but he’s no worse than dozens of other world leaders with whom we deal for want of any better alternative. The notion that a military option with a June 30 deadline could take him and his movement out of the picture was never more than a delusion.
Whether you think, like Tacitus, that the attack on Sadr should been pushed through to its bloody conclusion, or like me that it should never have started, this is another appalling stuffup on Bremer’s part. Even at this late stage he ought to take responsibility and resign or, failing that, be sacked.