McClatchy says that Iraqi troops will soon be walking the streets of Sadr City and arresting those found with "medium and heavy weaponry."
Followers of rebel cleric Muqtada al Sadr agreed late Friday to allow Iraqi security forces to enter all of Baghdad’s Sadr City and to arrest anyone found with heavy weapons in a surprising capitulation that seemed likely to be hailed as a major victory for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.
In return, Sadr’s Mahdi Army supporters won the Iraqi government’s agreement not to arrest Mahdi Army members without warrants, unless they were in possession of "medium and heavy weaponry."
The Mahdi Army, and the Sadr movement in general, has been losing support in the past two months in the face of a government offensive intended to force the militia from its controlling positions in Basra and Sadr City.
Militarily, the Iraqi military’s offensive in Basra might not have been as well-planned or as successful as was hoped. But the right sort of results seem to have manifested themselves anyway:
…after initially resisting Maliki’s offensive, the Sadrists ceded their areas, and the change in atmosphere has been palpable. An annual poetry festival, al Mirbed, resumed for the first time in three years, with male and female folk dancers performing in public and poets spouting their verses.
Could Sadr City be the next rebel stronghold to return to a semblance of order? If so, Baghdad’s pacification could finally be happening.
This is another important piece of good news and it seems reasonable to give credit for this seeming success to the Bush administration’s steadfast determination to keep American troops in Iraq until the job there is done.