Aides to both men admit that Mr Maliki and Gen David Petraeus engage in frequent stand-up shouting matches, differing particularly over the US general’s moves to arm Sunni tribesmen to fight al-Qa’eda.
One Iraqi source said Mr Maliki used a video conference with Mr Bush to call for the general’s signature strategy to be scrapped. “He told Bush that if Petraeus continues, he would arm Shia militias,” said the official. “Bush told Maliki to calm down.” (See here)
Washington was beginning to despair about the man they had put their faith in to help set Iraq on the path of stability, his sectarianism, his lack of backbone, the resignations from his cabinet.
Now this. On Friday, Maliki made the spectacular move to fly into Saddam's hometown to the heartland of Sunni tribal leaders and extend a direct and personal appeal. He has requested that they put aside their differences to work towards the common goal of dealing with Al Qa'eda, the lawless menace in the country. In a move which will go a long way towards winning over the Sunni factions which mistrust Sadre, he has made "a clean break with Moqtada al-Sadr yesterday, signing an accord with the Kurds and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. The coucil commands the Badr Brigade, which has fought Sadr's forces in the south for control. Maliki apparently has co-opted them into the government, isolating Sadr even further than ever after the radical cleric pulled his ministers from Maliki's government".
If all goes well, this may be Maliki's big move towards proving himself to be the statesman Iraq so badly needs which can only come as a huge relief to the U.S. who are looking forward to at least some light at the end of the tunnel by which they can plan their departure from Iraq sometime this century!