Al-Sadr called for the Mahdi Militia to cease activities for 6 months so he can reorganize the force. This follows increased conflict between the Madhis and other Shia political parties.

Clashes at Karbala killed 50 during the pilgrimage. Mahdi militiamen attacked SIIC and Dawa political offices in Baghdad recently, escalating tensions even further.

The Jaish al-Mahdi is badly fragmented, with many units acting as local mafias more than a centrally controlled militia. The other Shia political parties, such as SIIC and Dawa, are turning against Sadr’s forces now that al-Qaeda is a declining threat.


Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered a six-month suspension of activities by his Mahdi Army militia in order to reorganize the force, and it will no longer attack U.S. and coalition troops, aides said Wednesday.

The aide, Sheik Hazim al-Araji, said on Iraqi state television that the goal was to “rehabilitate” the organization, which has reportedly broken into factions, some of which the U.S. maintains are trained and supplied by Iran.

Many Arab Shia are viewing Sadr’s JAM as Iranian allies. Sadr tries to sound nationalistic, but he cannot do so while taking aid from Iran and Hezbollah.

As Al-Qaeda loses influences, Shia political parties can now view JAM as a threat. In Basra, power plays by the JAM have not gone unnoticed. Rival parties in Basra, like the Fadila Party and SIIC have challenged the Sadrist factions.

Now that an Iranian-backed JAM attacked on other Shia political parties, and al-Sistani’s men at a pilgrimage, the majority of the Shia are turning the tables on JAM. The SIIC militia, Badr Brigades, is actively fighting JAM. SIIC, Dawa, Fadila, and other Shia parties can also call upon the Iraqi Security Forces, or give intelligence tips to the Americans. This gives them relative military dominance at all levels of conflict.

Sadr, at the very least, has a good idea of where the political winds blow. He is basically calling for a ceasefire and will use the time to try and regain control over his fragmented militia while deflecting reprisals. But, obviously, such pronouncements may be as truthful as Sadr’s claims of nationalism while he hides in Iran. Trust but verify as always.