US Teams With Al-Sadr

Common enemies inspire peculiar alliance
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 12, 2007 5:27 PM CST
A young boy drinks a glass of milk next to a poster of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007....   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The US military and the man who was once considered the most powerful destabilizing force in Iraq, Moqtada al-Sadr, now have a common enemy: rogue members of Sadr's Mahdi Army. Since Sadr declared a ceasefire three months ago, US commanders, including Gen. David Petraeus, have been secretly meeting with Sadr's deputies to cooperate on fighting the Iran-funded splinter militias, Newsweek reports.

Sadr loyalists have formed  a “golden battalion” to hunt the rebels; the US military hopes to keep widening the distance between the groups, and has brokered truces between Sunni sheiks and Mahdi Army commanders in some Baghdad neighborhoods. Sadr himself has been absent from public life since August; Newsweek says he may be in Najaf studying up for a clerical promotion.