Developing: Sadr Group Leaves Ruling Shiite Block

Is this an ‘oh shit’ moment for Maliki, or business-as-usual in the haphazard Iraqi parliament?

BBC News:

The decision, announced at a news conference in the holy city of Najaf, comes five months after Mr Sadr pulled out his ministers from the cabinet.

The group has complained that Mr Maliki has not consulted them over decisions.

Other grievances voiced in the past by the Sadr bloc include their call – ignored by the prime minister – for a timetable for the withdrawal of US-led forces from Iraq.

In August, the main Sunni alliance also withdrew from the Iraqi cabinet, which currently has 17 ministers – with 23 other portfolios left unfilled.

[…]

While there has been no official explanation of the timing of the announcement, our correspondent says Mr Sadr may be worried about continuing to support a government that is so close to the Americans.

Mr Sadr supporters have also been unhappy with Mr Maliki’s moves to allow former members of Saddam Hussein’s regime back into the administration, our correspondent says.

In a statement made in Najaf, the Sadr group said: “The political committee has declared the withdrawal of the Sadr bloc from the alliance because there was no visible indication that the demands of Sadr’s bloc were being met.”

[…]

Many observers will be keen to see whether the suspension of the activities of the Mehdi Army militia that Moqtada Sadr ordered at the end of August will hold.

Analysts see the move as an attempt by Mr Sadr to regain control over his increasingly divided militia.

This could, as indicated by the Beeb, simply be a hardball negotiating tactic to address longstanding political grievances, or part of an attempt on the part of Sadr to rein in his increasingly divided Mahdi partisans. One also wonders what relationship if any the move has with recent reports on US efforts to expand the ‘Anbar Model’ to Sadr loyalists.

As the title says, developing…

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