Most Prescient. Op-ed. Ever.
Take a bow, Dan Senor and Roman Martinez!
Moqtada al-Sadr — the radical cleric dubbed “The Most Dangerous Man in Iraq” by a Newsweek cover story in December 2006 — has just unilaterally extended the ceasefire he imposed on his Mahdi Army militia last summer. And on the eve of the Iraq War’s fifth anniversary, Sadr also issued a somber but dramatic statement. He not only declared that he had failed to transform Iraq, but also lamented the new debates and divisions within his own movement. Explaining his marginalization, Sadr all but confessed his growing isolation: “One hand cannot clap alone.”
What happened? Over the past five years, Sadr has been one of the most persistent and insurmountable challenges for the U.S. Leveraging his family’s prestige among the disaffected Shiite underclass, he asserted his power by violently intimidating rival clerics, agitating against the U.S. occupation, and using force to establish de facto control over Baghdad’s Sadr City (named after his father, and home to two million Shiites on the east bank of the Tigris) and large swaths of southern Iraq.
The story of his rise, and fall, illustrates the complex relationship between security and political power that drives the fortunes of the U.S. mission in Iraq.
That was six days ago.