Kevin Drum notes that Moqtada al-Sadr has extended his cease-fire for another six months. This is abundantly good news, and as the Washington Post points out, this cease-fire is at least as significant a factor in the drop in violence as the “surge”.
I’ve updated the figure above from what I posted at the State of the Union. It remains the case that a model of fatalities since the ceasefire is a much stronger fit than a model of fatalities since the
surge” began. Coalition fatalities have been flat since last October, and fell substantially in September. The long-term trend was upward in August, suggesting that the military escalation was not the dominant force.
It isn’t clear why Sadr called the ceasefire, nor why he chose to continue it. It is an encouraging sign, but without knowing what motivates Sadr, it’s too early to say whether this situation is sustainable. The Post suggests that this corresponds to Sadr’s desire to strengthen his political position. That may not be the best thing for Iraq, or for United States interests in the region.