WaPo: "A week after seizing control of Najaf, Iraq's holiest city, members of a militia loyal to radical Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr relinquished their hold on police stations and government buildings Monday as hundreds of U.S. soldiers mobilized in preparation for an assault on the city."The withdrawal of Sadr's forces, the continuation of a cease-fire in the violence-wracked city of Fallujah and the release of seven kidnapped Chinese civilians amounted to the most positive developments for U.S. occupation forces since a two-front war with Shiite militiamen and Sunni Muslim insurgents erupted a week ago."Meanwhile, the New York Times reports, leading Shi'ite clerics -- including representatives of Grand Ayatollah Sistani -- are now meeting with Sadr in Najaf, to try to defuse his standoff with American troops. But Juan Cole is pessimistic about the talks.

I think it most unlikely that the terms of the negotiations reported above will be acceptable to the United states. Coalition spokesmen continued to talk about capturing or killing Muqtada. The tough talk may be intended to put pressure on him to surrender, but if so it is a miscalculation. Muqtada is a millenarian who thinks the world is about to end, and for the foreigners to discuss killing him might well drive him to seek the advent of the apocalypse through a call for more violence.
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