Muqtada al-Sadr, powerful leader of Shiite militia forces ordered his followers to cease attacks on American and coalition forces until some semblance of order can be established in Iraq. He as upset at the growing factionalism which is causing Shiite militia to fight with one another and seriously impeding their ability to be unified. His men clashed with militia from the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council(SIIC) in the holy city of Kerbala where thousands of pilgrims had gathered to celebrate a religious holiday.
It appears al-Sadr fears an outbreak of civil war within Shiite forces that would enable Sunnis gain power as their opponents fight with one another. The six month cease fire opens new opportunities for the United States and the Maliki government to create some semblance of order and calm in Iraq. The issue is whether or not the Mailiki government can take advantage of this lull in fighting by a major militia faction.