Sadrist comments on the stand-down order
Nahrainnet, the Sadrist news site, adds the following to its report on Sadr's order to the Mahdi Army to stand down. First, the report quotes sources to the effect this naturally doesn't abrogate the universal and inalienable right of self-defense, in the event the movement is attacked or harassed. And then the journalist adds:
The question is: Will the leadership of the American forces issue orders to avoid harassing the Mahdi Army, or will it find this truce an occasion to increase its attacks on this Army, of which already hundreds of martys have fallen on account of attacks by the American forces, and over 2000 members have been arrested in the last eight months, including men of religion, social activists, and politicians?!The stand-down statement and explanations by Sadrist sources included references to the need to protect the offices of all sects and parties, clearly an expression of concern about the attacks on SCIRI and Dawa offices in Baghdad (thought to have been in retaliation for what happened in Karbala), and to the need for a space of time to "reorganize the Mahdi army in a way that preserves its ideology". So the surprising stand-down order appears to have been triggered by a realization that control had deteriorated to such an extent that the movement as a whole was at the mercy of events triggered by others. On the other hand, it is important to bear in mind the point cited above, namely self-defence and the question whether the American forces respond by discontinuing their attacks or not, attacks which the writer points out have included arrest of civilian activists and not just fighters. Another point often lost in translation is that that the period referred to isn't "six months", but "a period of time not exceeding six months".