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 “third step” if the crackdown doesn’t stop.

Al-Sadar has been a thorn in the side of the Iraqi people and our coalition troops for a long time. There’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 we’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.

Politics Al-Sadar Causing Problems Again