Let's play Find the Ways Maliki Pretends He Is George Bush--first to four wins--but don't blink, because it's going to be a quick game:
The negotiations with Mr. Sadr were seen as a serious blow for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who had vowed that he would see the Basra campaign through to a military victory. He has been harshly criticized even within his own coalition for the stalled assault.
Last week, Iraq’s defense minister, Abdul Kadir al-Obeidi, conceded that the government’s military efforts in Basra met with far more resistance than expected. Many Iraqi politicians say that Mr. Maliki’s political capital has been severely depleted by the Basra campaign and that he is in the curious position of having to turn to Mr. Sadr, a longtime rival, for a way out.
Such a curious position, but not unexpected to anyone who's been paying a lick of attention. As noted before, al-Sadr pulls the strings in Iraq, and he's young, and he's patient. None of that bodes particularly well for neocon dreams of a permanent US presence acting as a stabilizing force for the region.