Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric who has declared cease fires in the past, is now apparently angry over US/Iraq government attacks on his force. He issued a “finalwarning” to the Mailiki government to end its crackdown on his followers or threatened to initiate an “open war of liberation.” A full blown attack by his forces would dramatically increase the level of fighting in Iraq and prove the “surge” had failed, at least until the war against al-Sadr was won. Last year, al-Sadr attempted to defuse tensions by declaring a unillateral case fire only to witness a response which resulted in closing his offices in Baghdad and harassing his forces. “So,” he said, “I am giving my final warning…. to the Iraqi government to take the path of peace and abandon all violence against its people. If the government does not refrain.. we will declare an open war until liberation.”
Whether by planning or simply a coincidence, the al-Sadr statement came after an al-Qaida announcement of a one month campaign of violence. At present American forces are attempting to seal Sadr City in Baghdad which may prove a costly fight if al-Sadr’s warning is carried out.
From day one of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein the fight in Iraq has been a political one but the American and Iraqi government have mainly focused on military aspects of the situation.