According to Newsweek magazine, Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army may be the next recipient of US largesse as Petreaeus looks to the firebrand cleric to expand the Awakening. I'm hoping my colleague Eric Martin will also have something to say about this story later but I want to flag up a line from the Newsweek piece that really encapsulates the story:
Petraeus recently started using the honorific "seyed" when referring to Sadr and has asked U.S. officers to do the same.The honorific denotes males accepted as descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his grandsons, Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn ibn Ali. Petraeus is thus signalling American acceptance that Sadr is a primary player in Iraqi political and religious life, not just an insurgent menace.
If Petraeus does move to bring the Mahdi Army into the Awakening, then watch as yet again those who have previously been designated by the pro-war cheerleaders as terrorist cockroaches (who must never be negotiated with or appeased in any way) become suddenly acceptable allies in their eyes. Their ability to spin their opinions on a dime as long as it accords with the White House message never ceases to amaze me.