Saving Pvt. Journalism, Pt. 7
Christmas in Iraq - Santa's Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

A coalition of moderates in Iraq

There is plenty to disagree about regarding Iraq, but the progression of Moqtada al Sadr on to paradise carries widespread approval. We failed to speed this up a couple of years ago, largely at the insistence of the Grand Ayatollah Sistani. He told us he could keep Mookie in check and we figured we had enough other problems and said OK. That hasn't worked out so well and now it looks like Sistani might have had enough

But Ayatollah Sistani has grown increasingly distressed as the Shiite-led government has proved incapable of taming the violence and improving public services, Shiite officials say. He now appears to be backing away from his demand that the Shiite bloc play the dominant political role and that it hold together at all costs, Iraqi and Western officials say.

As the effective arbiter of a Shiite role in the planned coalition, the ayatollah is considered critical to the Iraqi and American effort.

American officials have been told by intermediaries that Ayatollah Sistani "has blessed the idea of forming a moderate front," according to a senior American official. "We wouldn't have gotten this far without his support."

The under current to all of this is that any moderate front would exclude the problem child and his militia. This dovetails nicely with a surge in Baghdad as Mookie's troops would have to be dealt with for any kind of security to hold. If Sistani can replace Sadr's seats in the government with Kurds and moderate Sunnis, and we can put a hurt on the Shiite death squads as well as the Baathist ones, something good could happen.

Wouldn't that be an interesting change of pace?

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