The decline in Iraqi violence over the last half year can be partially if not greatly attributed to the Iraqi militia cease-fire. Now the situation is looking precarious. After a crackdown on militia in Basra this week, Shiite Cleric Moqtada al-Sadar is urging civil disobedience beginning with sit-ins, followed by civil revolt, if necessary, and even continuing on to an unnamed â€œthird stepâ€ if the crackdown doesnâ€™t stop.
Al-Sadar has been a thorn in the side of the Iraqi people and our coalition troops for a long time. Thereâ€™s no reason to assume or really even hope his civil disobedience campaign will remain a peaceful protest. How our leaders and the Iraqi government handle this delicate situation could determine whether the country stays on the path to greater stability or whether weâ€™re headed for an extended return to violence. The key here is to keep it a diplomatic problem and not let it become a military one.
Much easier said than done.