Muqtada's Shift

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Muqtada al-Sadr goes in for a little political repositioning, "reaching out to a broad array of Sunni leaders" and distancing itself from the US-backed, Shiite-led Iraqi government that it once supported. Sadr's swung back and forth on this kind of thing, so I don't think it need be seen as reflecting any true change of heart. Still, he seems like a pretty canny politician who has a better grasp than most Americans on the state of Iraqi public opinion.

Thus, when he has his minions saying things like "We want to aim the guns against the occupation and al-Qaeda, not between Iraqis" I think that's a sound indication that this is the political sweet spot in Iraq. That, in turn, is just another indication that if we leave Iraq, there'll be nothing left for Iraqis to do but turn on al-Qaeda; it's only the fact of the occupation that prevents the objective unpopularity of al-Qaeda from becoming the most salient thing.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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