The US military and its Iraqi allies have abandoned the siege of Sadr City, the poor Shia slum of Baghdad, after failing to disarm the Mehdi army – a resistance organisation led by rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
The humiliating climbdown is a heavy blow to the “surge” strategy launched by George Bush that had the central aim of crushing all major resistance to the occupation.
This is the third major uprising by the Mehdi Army since the occupation began. During each, the US has vowed to crush Sadr’s organisation, only to back away.
As part of the truce, Sadr agreed to allow the Iraqi army into the area, but the Mehdi Army was allowed to retain its arms.
The US attack on Sadr City triggered seven weeks of deadly clashes that killed 900 people.
Now occupation forces are trying to build a four metre high “security barrier” around the area as part of a policy of dividing Baghdad. The Mehdi Army has repeatedly blown holes in the wall.