Is Moqtada backing down?

The Iraqi political class seems to be stepping back from the brink of all-out sectarian war.

According to NPR, al-Maliki got support in Parliament from across the Iraqi political spectrum for his plan to crack down on violence in Baghdad. The Sadrists have resumed their seats in Parliament, and the mayor of Sadr City is negotiating an agreement on U.S./Iraqi Army patrols in his territory, which has been off limits until now. And apparently the Sunni parties are willing to give it a try. (That account is in some tension with this AP story.)

Maybe the threat of a U.S. withdrawal has finally concentrated the minds of the Iraqi political class. If Iraq’s Shi’a wind up depending on Iran, that’s not good for Moqtada; the Iranians favor the Mahdi Army’s rival, the SCIRI.

Maybe Mr. Bush ought to be grateful to the Democrats (and, of course, the voters) for playing bad cop to his good cop.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: