Mohammed from Iraq the Model:

The battle between criminal gangs and the state continues, yet the war is far from being over. Public statements keep coming from both sides and they don’t seem to promise a diplomatic resolution for the crisis. The latest exchange included a pledge for a “final battle” by Sadr’s spokesman Bahaa Aaraji and an assertion by Maliki that the government will not stop pursuing gangs militarily and politically. Telling Sadr that his movement cannot take part in elections unless he disbands his militias and surrenders weapons is a turning point in Iraqi politics, especially because a broad political front including leading Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish powers emerged to back this new trend in dealing with this issue.

I think what encouraged Maliki to push the limits of the conflict to this unprecedented level was the first-of-a-kind success of the Political Council for National Security — an entity that includes the president, PM, and leaders of major parliamentary blocs — to reach consensus on a decision. This entity managed for the first time a week ago to overcome the impotence that had halted its mission since its inception. Evidence of the newfound potency of this entity is that Ayad Allawi, who had refused being part of it for a long time, is now sending delegates to negotiate terms for his membership.

The ongoing confrontation highlights a dramatic change in the inclination of the Iraqi leadership, which decided to face the challenge with unwavering resolve instead of shrinking away.