So Moqtada’s Mahdi Army was allowed to leave the Imam Ali Shrine intact, with all its weapons. Moqtada himself will have the murder charges against him forgotten, and be invited to take the popularity he apparently has gained by fighting the Americans into the political arena with him, still backed by his own militia.
It’s possible that this was the least bad solution available. It’s almost certain that once Sistani had decided to intervene and demonstrated his capacity to mobilize thousands of followers, we didn’t have much choice but to go with the flow.
Still and all, this looks to me an awful lot like defeat. If this is the best result we could get, we shouldn’t have started the confrontation in the first place. We started out to take Vienna, and we didn’t take Vienna. Very, very bad.