The Associated Press refrains from Calling Moqtada al Sadr – Mookie – by their usual descriptive term: "Fiery" in this report. Maybe because winners don't do what Mookie is doing: pulling his fighters off the streets nationwide in Iraq.
Al-Sadr's nine-point statement was issued by his headquarters in the holy city of Najaf and broadcast through loudspeakers on Shiite mosques. It said the first point was: "taking gunmen off the streets in Basra and elsewhere."
He also demanded that the Iraqi government stop "haphazard raids" and release security detainees who haven't been charged, two issues cited by his movement as reasons for fighting the government.
Followers handed out sweets in Baghdad's main Mahdi Army militia stronghold of Sadr City.
Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh called the statement "positive and responsible." But he also warned in a telephone interview broadcast on Iraqi state TV. that security forces would continue to target those who don't follow the order.
"We expect a wide response to this call," he said. "After this announcement, anybody who targets the government and its institutions will be regarded … as outlaws."
It would appear that Mookie has, once again, been defeated. If he was actually winning, he would not have run for cover. One presumes that the new tactic of hitting Mahdi Army headquarters and strongholds got Mookie's attention. Since, presumably, he is smart enough to realize that his stronghold could be next. The media – and the left – have been trying to sell this latest wet firecracker from al Sadr as a sign that the Iraqi government has lost control. It looks rather more like al Sadr has lost decisively.